What does Bankroll Management (BRM) mean when it comes to poker?
Even the best poker players will bust out if they do not have enough money to ride out short term fluctuations, whatever stakes they are playing. 'Short term' is any amount of time which is necessary for the results to begin to accurately reflect your skill level.
BRM means risking no more than a 'safe' amount of your balance at any one time.
Your Replay chip balance can be seen as the number of buy-ins that you have available at the stake size you are playing. If you have 40,000 chips and are entering a game with a 1,000 chip buy-in, you have 40 buy-ins.
BRM is not going to help you win money if you are an unskilled poker player, but it will help you play longer.
Professional cash players like to have at least 50 buy-ins worth of chips in their stack. Some advise having anywhere up to a hundred. Pro players tend to like a bigger BRM cushion because they have to be extra careful not to bust, which would mean re-investing or even getting a different job. They have to fund their living expenses from their poker winnings, therefore they err on the side of safety.
Why should I care about BRM if I just want to play with free play chips at Replay?
Casual players, including Replay Poker players, do not have to worry about buying groceries from their balance, so we can lower the number of buy-ins a little - but not too much.
Going bust again and again is no fun. If you want to reduce the risk of reaching for the free reload button, consider where your current skill level is. Are you:
- Able to win consistently and build up your balance from ring games and SNGs?
- Capable of keeping your chips intact at the table, taking in free chips, Freerolls and MTT wins to maintain or raise your balance?
- Willing to take your chances and put all of your chips on any table you have enough for?
If you see yourself as one of the first two, you probably already apply some BRM by actively thinking about how much you are prepared to risk. Additional BRM will give you extra comfort in the knowledge you are protecting your overall chip balance
If you have to admit that you are like the third, then ask yourself, would you enjoy the games more if your chips lasted longer or if you could play higher stakes more often?
How do I work out how many chips I should have?
Generally, having at least 30 buy-ins worth of chips will be comfortable for most players. If you drop down to somewhere around 25, you will need to think about moving down in stakes.
Here are some factors that might raise or lower the number of buy-ins suitable for you:
- NL, PL, or Limit. In theory, limit games offer the lowest fluctuations but depending on the type of games, it might not be as much as you think.
- MTT. Multi-Table Tournaments obviously offer the largest variance, but a string of poor results can be reduced by getting regular mini-cashes, and winning a large prize can automatically raise you to a new stake level.
- SNG and Ring games. Both types of games have similar effects on your bank, except that weaker players in a SNG will lose just one buy-in at a time, whereas a ring opponent might stick around and lose multiple buy-ins.
- Your style of play. Tight players might get away with less buy-ins, but take longer to build up their stack. Loose, aggressive players will experience more fluctuations.
- Tilt much? Chasing losses or targeting opponents for personal reasons is going to ruin your hard work. Your whole bankroll is at risk until you regain control.
When can I think about moving up or 'Taking shots?'
Think about moving up all the time!
If you set yourself 30 buy-ins for your game and find you have over 40, you might want to look at the next stake size up. If it is a level you have not played before and you expect the game dynamics to be different, give it a try, but take it easy. Drop down again if you are losing and determine what went wrong so you are prepared the next time you step up.
If you are thriving in the games you regularly play, some would say to stay in those and gain as many chips as you can, but eventually you will want to play bigger. Skipping too many stake levels means you could miss part of the learning curve.
What if I have a winning streak in a ring game and I get multiple buy-ins in my stack?
Those chips are actually part of your overall bankroll, but most players say it is reasonable to stay in the game. If you are in a game that is profitable and noone really threatens to take your chips because everyone's stacks are low in comparison to yours, then stay but continue to evaluate the situation. Seriously consider leaving if you find the game getting tougher or if the players around you have as many chips as you do. If you stay, then busting your entire stack in one hand becomes a possibility and might be a major psychological blow as well as a significant dent in how many chips you could have added to your bankroll.