One of the biggest reasons why people go broke in poker is because they keep an insufficient bankroll. Luckily when I first started learning to play poker I was naturally very cautious. My first deposit was just $50 and started playing the lowest stakes games available (1c/2c). Most players however start out by depositing says $100 and playing 25c/50c games or higher. Most of the time these players will go broke within a few hours after getting unlucky and then get mad because they lost all of their money or even worse, become disillusioned and quit playing poker altogether.
What most novice players do not understand is that although poker is a skill game, it is a game of the long run. It’s possible to get unlucky for days, weeks or even months at a time. Having a large bankroll will allow you to ride out the bad variance and survive getting unlucky.
I understand some players do not want to play poker professionally, which is fine; playing this game for a living is not for everyone. That being said, you will have a much greater time playing poker if you:
- Play at a limit where losing the money does not hurt you financially.
- Learn some basic poker strategy so that you avoid bleeding money.
- Keep enough money on a poker site so that you do not have to keep re-depositing.
For a recreational player I would advise you keep around 20 full buyins on the website at once. I would also advise recreational players to play short stacked and try to run up big stacks. The reason for this is primarily that when players are deep stacked, it favours professionals and advanced players alike. The deeper the stacks, the more the relative skill level of the players matters. By playing short stacked you can actually minimize the edge that your opponents could potentially have against you.
Generally I would advise pro players to keep at least 100 full buyins for the stakes that they play as their poker bankroll. This is what I kept to, sometimes I would have much more than this though. I remember I used to have about $40k in my poker account whilst still playing $1/$2. So the rule is not set in stone that you have to move up when you have X amount or move down when you have X amount.
If i went on a bad run i would move down stakes once i had only 50 buyins for the stake i was playing. So if I started with a $20k bankroll for nl200, I would move down to nl100 if my bankroll decreased down to $10k.
I would then try and re-build my bankroll and would move up again when I had 60 or 70 buyins again for nl200. If I went below the 50 buyin mark again, I would drop down and repeat the process.
What is Your Skill Level?
If I was to 4 table nl200, I would be comfortable playing with just a 50buyin bankroll. I would feel confident that I would never go bust 4 tabling with this bankroll.
However, if I was 12 tabling, i would definitely not feel comfortable with just a 50 buyin bankroll. The reason for this is because my win rate whilst playing 12 tables is a lot less than my win rate playing 4 tables. My hourly rate might be more playing 12 tables, but the variance I will experience will be many times greater playing 12 tables.
So if you have a low win rate or are playing lots of tables, be prepared for a lot of variance. I would generally recommend a larger bankroll for hardcore multitablers and a lower bankroll for highly skilled players who game select.