Your poker bankroll needs a great plan



There are no magic bullets that will guarantee you a constant win-rate. With today’s competitive environment, owning a solid bankroll-management plan ensures a much better chance to keep the cash-flow moving in the right direction.

Strict adherence to bankroll limits are much more important for a pro than recreational players. That said, the recreational player has closed the skill gap when comparing their game to a pro.

Therefore, having a great bankroll plan is more important than ever and I have a few ideas on this matter.

  • There’s a spot in our brain that sets off a reaction when we are losing money. This is part of our fight-or-flight response and when we’re feeling this our whole being changes. Sometimes our mouth gets dry, sweaty palms, heart rate and even our brain chemistry is off.

Yes, bankroll management is closely tied to tilt. Successful players have learned to shed this fear and are unflappable. A good idea is to come with plenty of cash and this will help you play better.

No one is suggesting you lose it all. Playing when stuck and short-stacked is not optimal. Shed your fear.

  • Protect your bankroll. An important step is separating your poker roll from your spending money. Enjoying a great session and counting out a nice win shouldn’t translate into a new refrigerator or couch, etc. Don’t spend more than 10 percent of your win and this will go a long way to setting off any unplanned losses.
  • Never loan money in a casino. Guard your roll like a mother hen looks after her chicks.
  • We’ve all seen players go off way more than they had ever thought they were capable of. When this occurs there’s a strong possibility he has passed his threshold of pain. When the dollar amount no longer matters, a player has passed his threshold. Imagine a player who hits this pain point at $800. Each dollar until the 800th is equal pain.

Once he passes this point, his tilt or anger is stretched past the point of no return and he no longer feels the pain, but starts splashing chips around and goes way beyond. Make it your business to recognize what your threshold is. Everyone’s is different.

I know one player who has a threshold of a dollar. That’s right, just a buck. When this player is stuck, he plays way out of his winning range. When winning, he’s a great player.

  • Recognizing why and when to stay or leave is often misunderstood. Stick to your game plan. Leave a bit earlier if the game is tough. If the game is weak, stay longer. There’s always tomorrow.

— Mark Brement has spent 15 years teaching and coaching all facets of poker, including at Pima CC. Email him at

Chris Cosenza

Chris Cosenza