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Bankroll Management [video]

While streaming my $200 to $10,000 poker challenge on twitch, the viewers asked for some advice on proper bankroll management. This was my quick and dirty breakdown of buy-in requirements based on risk tolerance.

To reiterate: a 20 buy-in roll is an absolute minimum that you should start with if you are going to take this seriously. In most cases, I would aim higher: from 30 to 50 buy-ins. For example, if you want to start out at $0.01/$0.02 (aka 2NL), then you should deposit at least $60.

Other Bankroll Considerations

Let’s talk about a few more important aspects of bankroll management that I didn’t cover in the video.

1. Bank-roll tilt

Letting your bank-roll dip to low can be another cause of tilt. As it gets lower and lower, you start to get this f*ck it mentality. You take bigger risks and your play deteriorates. Avoid this by dropping down in stakes when your roll gets too low.

2. Taking Shots

It also might be helpful to use two different levels when deciding which stakes to play. You start playing the higher level when your roll reaches an upper bound but if it drops to a lower bound then you stop. For example, you might start playing $25NL when your roll reaches 40 buy-ins for that level (or $1000) but if your roll drops to 30 buy-ins (or $750) then you stop. Taking a 10 buy-in spread approach like this approach gives you some room to operate, since it’s so easy to go up or down 3 or 4 or 5 buy-ins even if you’re playing really well.

3. Don’t Withdraw!

If you have aspirations to become a professional poker player then this is one of the best pieces of advice I can offer you. After you deposit, DON’T WITHDRAW ANYTHING until you’re winning at 100NL. Find a way to support yourself otherwise, and let the money grow. If you’re pulling money out here and there, then when you eventually hit a nasty down-swing it can be a disaster. This is especially true for your first major down-swing, where you may get used to a higher win-rate that is artificially inflated because you’ve been running well.
Another way to think about it is to imagine that you are trying to fill up a sink with an open drain. It’s pretty much impossible!

Want to learn more?

I go into greater depth with more examples and nice looking tables in my complete poker training series. In the series, we start out with a discussion on goal setting to make sure we’re headed in the right direction, as efficiently as possible. And then within this discussion, we establish what our plan of attack will be with our bankroll. This then determines what kind of games we can start choosing to play which is covered in the second video. Check out the video course if you haven’t already.

And if you find the strategy content I provide useful, please, please share it with those buttons below. Thanks for reading!

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4 Comments
  • Darren- Coach @ PokerInABox
    June 18, 2015 at 2:39 am

    Good stuff Mike, I am personally in agreement with everything you explained in the video and on the blog. Proper BRM is absolutely necessary in a volatile game such as poker since luck does play a factor in the short term (shot taking). I would suggest people that aren’t in a rush and want to learn their game and their edge in the game to practice the conservative approach as it will give a much better indication of your skill level and allow for “ease of mind” as you won’t be second guessing to make high variance plays 🙂

  • Reyez
    June 24, 2015 at 5:20 am

    Do you need to be in 100NL to withdraw?

    • Mike "fooz" Gano
      June 25, 2015 at 3:40 am

      It’s not a bad idea. The less you withdraw, the faster your roll grows and the sooner you can play the higher stakes! The higher you climb, the more you can potentially make.
      If you REALLY have to withdraw, that’s fine. But I would not be constantly withdrawing when you’re playing the micros. It will take you MUCH longer to move up the stakes.

  • Tuffnut
    August 18, 2015 at 11:46 am

    I would recommend to withdraw it to an online wallet and not leave it all at just 1 pokersite. If it goes down then your roll is not availeble or maybe lost… maybe its a good idea to spread it, just like at home where you want to hide your money in seperate chuncks. Do not keep it all in 1 place 🙂 and set yourself a goal… like when grinded 1.1k then you take your best friend or girlfriend to dinner and celebrate your 1K bankroll. (You did a hard job to get there)

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