Poker Money Management
Being able to keep control of the money you play with at the poker table is an essential skill for any winning player.
Good poker money management is what prevents bad luck and horrendous runs of cards from crippling your bankroll and leaving you with peanuts to play with. So if you want to avoid losing all of your bankroll, have a good browse over this article.
Why is money management important?
Even if you are a top-level player, there is no hiding from the luck factor in poker, so it is important to have a strong enough bankroll to withstand the toughest beatings from lady luck. Therefore we are going to need to play at limits that will allow our bankroll to take a few hits from time to time.
However, playing at ridiculously low stakes in relation to the size of our bankroll is not the answer, as we need to give ourselves a chance of actually winning a decent amount of money from our time spent at the tables.
Good money management in poker is all about safely maximizing the amount of money that we can play for and win from each session.
Poker money management rules.
Poker money management example.
The rules of poker money management above highlight the minimum number of buy ins that you should have to play at each of the available stakes online. So to play at the $2/$4 NL Hold'em games that have a maximum buy in of $400, you should have at least 20 buy ins for this level in your bankroll, which is 20 x 400 = $8,000.
So if we carry on with this idea...
- With $200 you can play at 5c/10c – 20 x $10 buy ins.
- With $500 you can play 10c/20c – 25 x $25 buy ins.
- With $1000 you can play at 25c/50c – 20 x $50 buy ins.
And so on. The same thing applies to money management in Sit and Go tournaments as it does with Texas Hold'em cash games.
Money management explanation.
These guidelines may well appear to be pretty wild at first; asking you to play at lower stakes than you might have expected. However, if you are winning player with a set amount of money to play with, then you should try your best to adhere to these rules.
It's not uncommon to have runs where you lose 5 or more buy ins playing cash games, which is why 20 buy-ins gives you a big enough cushion to absorb such a hit and battle away with a respectable bankroll amount.
If you are more of a casual player looking to play poker with money that you can very comfortably afford to lose, then these rules are going to be too strict for you (I bet that's a relief). These guidelines have been put forward primarily for players who want to try and build a big bankroll and move up the limits, safely earning more and more money as they go along.
As a casual player, you can pretty much set your own rules if you are not overly concerned about losing your money to a bad run of cards.
Moving up and down limits.
As you win and lose money, you should be prepared to shift up and down limits depending on how many buy ins you have in your bankroll.
Moving limits example.
Lets say that you have $2,500, which gives you 25 buy ins for the $0.5/$1 NL Hold'em game (typical max buy in at this level is $100).
If you manage to play solid poker and take your bankroll up to $4,000, you will then have 20 buy ins for the $1/$2 game. Depending on how comfortable you are with switching up levels, there is no reason why you couldn't leave the 50c/$1 stakes and start playing at the next level. If things go wrong and you end up losing a few buy ins you can always move back down, but with 20 buy ins you are safely bankrolled to play at the higher stakes.
Conversely, if you happen to hit a bad run of cards and you lose 6 or more buy ins, leaving you with 19 buy ins, you should consider moving down to the 25c/50c game until you win enough money to get back up to 20 buy ins for the 50c/$1 game. Personally, I would typically wait until I hit 15 buy-ins remaining before deciding to move down a level to safely recoup losses, but this all depends on how much of a risk you are willing to take.
Poker money management overview.
If you are not strict with yourself when it comes to money management, then you are going to have trouble keeping on top of your bankroll. You could be the best player in the world, but if you are constantly playing out of your depth, you don't stand a chance of consistently winning money from the game.
Keep your cool, and remember:
- 20 buy ins for cash games.
- 40 buy ins for Sit and Go tournaments.
Best of luck.
There is a useful article covering the same topic as this under bankroll management in the main strategy section.
Go back to the sublime Texas Hold'em guide.