Cash Game Poker Bankroll Management

If you’re playing poker cash games with the goal of boosting your bankroll then you will need to focus on two major challenges. It should go without saying that you will need to play at a winning level and in addition to this you will definitely want to have bankroll considerations in mind otherwise you’ll risk going broke.

A big part of being a successful cash game player is having the necessary discipline to manage your poker bankroll. This involves not playing outside of your roll because you have moved up in limits trying to chase your losses, a common newbie mistake. Smart bankroll management for cash games will allow you to properly withstand the downswings that every player will experience at some point in their careers and will help you to get back to winning ways.

One of the questions that gets asked pretty much constantly by new players just getting started in online poker and live poker cash games is how big of a bankroll do you need?

There is no black and white answer to this question, since there are several factors that will come into play. For the most part, however, it will depend on the game being played, your risk tolerance, and your skill level when compared against the average opponents you will be playing against.

First, let’s discuss the variance of different poker games, since this will affect the bankroll considerations you should have when playing each game. Variance in poker refers to the volatility of playing a certain game.

Any experienced poker player will be able to tell you that some games and poker variants can be a lot more severe on your bankroll then others. For the purposes of this bankroll management article, let’s compare No Limit Hold’em and Pot Limit Omaha. Although on first impressions they seem very similar there are fairly notable differences between the two games.

In Omaha hi poker games you’re dealt more pocket cards, which means there are more ways to construct a good hand. So a made hand on the flop, which would be a strong favorite of winning in Hold’em, may not necessarily be a huge favorite in Omaha, so when all the chips go in the middle, players can be flipping for their entire stacks, which obviously creates a very volatile game.

When playing No Limit Texas Hold’em, on the other hand, you can indeed be a big favorite when the chips go in the middle, and the swings can be a lot less severe. A competent hold’em player can get away with playing with a smaller bankroll. When playing No Limit Hold’em cash games, in order to play at a comfortable level, you’d be looking at playing with 20-25 buy ins, so that way you will be focused on making the right decisions instead of playing with scared money.

For a $1/$2 NLHE game, the max buyin is $200 (100 BBs), so you would want to have $4000 or more in order to play at this level. These are general guidelines, and players may decide to be a little more aggressive with their bankroll if they can be confident in having an edge in the games they play.

With that being said, what a lot of cash game players succumb to is thinking they are better than what they really are, making them play in bigger games than what their bankroll and skill level suggests they should.

It is much better to be a bit conservative with your bankroll then it is to play in games where you have no chance of being a winner, as that will inevitably make you go broke. There is no rush in moving up the limits when you’re playing cash games. By playing at the lower levels, you can gain the much needed experience that is needed to take on the bigger cash games.

What tends to happen is that cash game players that have been on a winning streak will think their game and skill level is further advanced than where it’s really at, leading to players moving up in stakes before they are comfortable in doing so, and without being properly rolled for them.

It goes without saying that this should be avoided at all costs, and to make matters even worse, going on downswings and losing money will lead to spewing even more money and your bankroll taking an even bigger hit due to making poor decisions on the felt.

The best way to approach poker cash games is to try and get into the groove of booking small wins. These winning sessions will do a lot to help your confidence and boost your bankroll at a steady rate over time. And before you know it, you’re sitting there with a much bigger bankroll, and feel a lot more confident in your own game, it will just be a matter of time before you will be ready to take shots in bigger cash games where the real money is to be made.