Building a Poker Bankroll

Building a poker bankroll is a major task but it’s not as unreachable as some people think it is. No matter how low you start out, you can build a bankroll a lot faster than you might imagine. All it takes is dedication and the ability to resist cashing out frequently. As you move up in stakes, the money will come in faster and your bankroll will grow even faster yet. It’s sort of a snowball effect.


The best way to get off to a fast start is to go bonus hunting. Every poker site gives away some sort of deposit bonus when you sign up with them. With hundreds of poker sites out there, there are tens of thousands of dollars of free money waiting for you.

The only thing you need to be able to do is play solid poker so that you don’t lose money while you clear your bonuses. If you learn the right online poker strategy, not only will you be able to clear you bonuses without losing money, but you’ll also make a little extra money on top of that.

Bonus hunting requires a little planning for you to be able to take the best advantage of poker bonuses. The thing is, each poker site only gives the bonus to you one time. These bonuses are awarded on a match percentage basis so what you want to do is start out with the smallest bonuses and then work your way up to the bigger bonuses.

There’s no point in wasting a 100% up to $600 bonus if you only have $400 in your bankroll. Get a smaller bonus first and then move on to the bigger bonus. If you start with the smallest bonuses first, you’ll be able to take full advantage of the bigger bonuses later on.

Moving Up in Stakes

Poker bonuses will only take you so far, however. As your bankroll gets bigger and bigger, the bonus money will represent a smaller percentage of your overall income. What you need to do is learn how to move up in stakes so that you can play in bigger games and bring in more money.

Moving up in stakes is not something that can be taken lightly. You can’t just get a bonus that gives you enough money to move up and play against new competition. You need to make sure that you’re actually ready to play at new stakes. Every time you move up in stakes, the competition gets just a little bit tougher.

After you clear a bonus or build the bankroll to the point where you have enough money to try new stakes, it’s best to ease into the new stakes slowly. Don’t just suddenly start playing 8 tables at a time at the new stakes. Start out just playing at one or two tables at a time and give yourself time to get used to the new playing styles of your opponents.

If things go poorly when you make a move up (and they will occasionally), don’t be afraid to move back down to your old stakes for a while. Not only is it healthier for your bankroll that way, but it also helps you regain your confidence so that you can give it another try with a healthy mindset.

Cashing Out

You really need to avoid cashing out if you want to build a huge poker bankroll. It’s tempting to cash your money out and buy something nice for yourself every once in a while but those little cashouts will kill your bankroll.

I also see a lot of players wanting to go pro when they hit the 100NL and 200NL levels and that’s generally not a good idea. The money can be good at those levels, but you’ll struggle to pay for all your living expenses, deal with the occasional downswing and build the bankroll up at the same time.

When you make frequent cashouts, the strain on your bankroll is twofold. First of all, it depletes your bankroll so that it takes longer to build it. Second, the money that you don’t have in your bankroll could have been used to help you move up in stakes and build the bankroll even faster. Instead, you’re stuck down at the bottom still wondering why it’s taking so long to make any real money.

Bankroll Management

As you move up in stakes, it can be tempting to move up before your bankroll can fully sustain the new levels. Always make sure you play with a sufficiently large bankroll for whatever stakes you play in.

The general rule of thumb is to play with at least 20 buyins but that can be a little short when you’re moving up in stakes and as you get to some of the middle and high stakes levels.

What I do when moving up is take a shot when I have 20 buyins at the level above my current level. By waiting until I have a full 20 buyins in the next level, I know that I have a comfortable bankroll at my current level. If the shot doesn’t go well, I can drop back down to a safe level for which I’m properly bankrolled.

As you move up in stakes, you’ll want to keep a bankroll of at least 30 or 40 buyins. This will give you a significant cushion for those bad runs we all go through and it will also help you play with confidence.

Whatever amount you set for your bankroll, the most important thing is that you stick with it. If you always want to keep a 30 buyin bankroll, you need to be able to move down any time you drop down to 29 buyins for your current level. Moving down is not a fun thing but it’s infinitely better than going broke.

It might sound like waiting until you have the proper bankroll is the slow way to do it but that method will get you in trouble every time. The fastest way to build a poker bankroll is to play with a large bankroll at all times.