Bankroll management is one of the most important factors in poker and do not let anyone else tell you otherwise. Some people will say that bankroll management isn’t important if you are not playing the game professionally or semi-professionally or if perhaps you have outside income propping up your poker play. This is true to a certain extent but let me phrase this another way, as a poker player you are doing more than just playing cards. You are in actual fact managing money and that could be a considerable sum depending on how high you play.
If you had to stake someone to play poker you would require certain characteristics from that person both as a poker player and as a person in general. One of them would be to have a professional attitude towards handling money both in their actual poker play, money transferals and their philosophy towards losses and gains and how to expand or contract the bankroll based on results. Having a bankroll management philosophy in place means that you are behaving professionally with what is essentially one of the major tools of your trade……..money!
Why is a bankroll important in tournament poker?
Having a bankroll is even more important in tournament poker simply because the variance is much greater to that of cash games. This is especially the case if the tournaments are MTT’s (Multi-Table Tournaments) where the losing runs can be long and severe. In fact even in STT’s (Single Table Tournaments) the losing runs can be longer than many people think. Because of that sad but inevitable fact you need to allow for losing runs and this means being able to play your normal strategy without it affecting how you play.
This last point is vital because if you have a winning strategy in place the worst thing that you can do irrespective of whatever form of poker that you are playing is to deviate from that strategy simply because you have had a losing run. Let us look at a player who is playing say $10 STT’s with only $100 behind them as a bankroll. Clearly this player is under pressure to do well during their first ten tournaments and this is impossible to guarantee even if the player has an edge.
In fact even in single table SNG’s this bankroll would be woefully short. The fallout from this is that with a short bankroll this can affect how well you play in later tournaments. If this forces you to tighten up your play then you are no longer playing optimally and that will then affect your earn rate and tournament success in the future.
SNG Tournament Bankrolls
Many players ask for accurate figures with regards to quoting bankroll sizes but nothing is really set in stone here. Over time levels change and within these levels the players change as do their average skill sets. So we are generalising here when we say that for SNG’s you should be using a bankroll size of at least x50 the amount of the tournament that you are looking to play.
This also includes any tournament fees that you may have to incur as well. So if you wanted to play say $10+$1 SNG’s then I would say to have a bankroll of around $550 and this should be pretty stable and enable you to play to the best of your potential and consistently make money as long as you have a clear edge in the games. In large MTT’s then we need to use a different dynamic but the concept is the same.
What you need to remember above everything else is that an MTT is simply a poker tournament with more players. As a rule then a smaller percentage of the player’s cash than in an SNG and so your bankroll has to compensate for that. Depending on the number of players that are active in the tournaments that you play in then your bankroll size needs to adjust for that fact.
If you are playing tournaments with up to 250 players then I would recommend at least 50 buy-ins as an absolute minimum! With tournaments at around the 500-1000 player mark then I would increase that to 100 buy-ins and to 200 buy-ins if you are playing in massive events with several thousand players in them and especially online tournaments with really fast levels and blind increases. So it is important to remember that tournament bankroll size is dependent on your tournament style as well as the speed of the tournament. The faster the tournament plays in terms of how quickly the blinds and antes increase then the greater amount of luck is involved and your bankroll size has to allow for that.
Written by: Carl “The Dean” Sampson