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You’re not going to have some magical run, where you move up in stakes every day, win session after session, and wake up one day as a high stakes pro. You’re not going to turn your 5 buy-in bankroll into millions, and putting your last $100 on the table will never (ever) be a decision that you reflect back on positively.

Simply put, everyone needs proper bankroll management in order to achieve long term success in poker. In fact, not having a solid bankroll strategy is the #1 reason most poker players don’t make it.

No matter how disciplined you are, without a strategy for moving up and down in stakes, your brain will eventually find a way to lose all of your money. But fortunately, as long as you stick to your guns, all this pain can be avoided. Here we’ll give you a plug and play bankroll strategy for tournaments, that you should take and apply immediately to your game.

The Strategy:


First off, format.

We want to play lower variance tournament formats when starting out. This means no turbos or hyper turbos, whatsoever. These faster-paced tournaments require a lot more buy-ins, because the variance is so much higher (meaning the potential for a massive downswing is higher).

When using this strategy, only play freezeout tournaments and slower-structure tournaments that have less variance (and typically softer fields). Multi table sit’n’gos are fine too, but remember that they should be normal ones, not turbos.

Now for the numbers:

Always have a starting bankroll of 200 buyins minimum for every tournament you play. Move down or up in stakes depending on this number. Here is how we recommend doing it:

Let’s say you have a $100 starting bankroll. You start playing 50c buy-in tournaments, and have some early success, building up to $150.

Should you move up? The answer – No! Wait until you have at least doubled your bankroll to $200, before moving up to $1 buy-in tournaments. Now let’s say you face a downswing after you successfully reach $200 and move up. You fall back down to $150.

Should you move down? You certainly can if you want, but it doesn’t have to be your stop-loss just yet. The rule is, once you fall back down to a $100 bankroll, you MUST move back down to 50c tournaments. With bankroll management, tight is right. If you feel demotivated and you aren’t playing your best game due to a downswing, moving down earlier, before reaching your absolute stop-loss, can be a powerful tool. You’ll start to build up your confidence playing lower stakes again, and can gradually build your bankroll back up.

What if I want to play turbos?

If you want to play turbo tournaments you can, but make sure that you have 400 buy-ins minimum, as the variance is much greater. For hyper-turbos, as many as 600 buy-ins can be required, as this format has the lowest edges and greatest swings of any form of poker tournament.

Some more notes on bankroll management:


Bankroll management protects you from going broke.

The stricter your bankroll guidelines, the more often you’ll be playing poker in a state of confidence and security, making decisions based on their worth, not on how much the money means to you. This is a powerful state of mind to play poker from, and gives you an edge on your opponents, who may not be properly rolled. In the beginning, when you’re starting out with a smaller bankroll, making lots of money shouldn’t be your objective. Rather than focusing on trying to get back losses and win big tournaments, focus on learning the fundamentals of tournament poker (click here to take our free 5 day transformational poker course!) and getting used to playing a winning strategy.

There is no wiggle room in your bankroll management. Once you establish your boundaries, never go outside of them. Once you do this, you run a high risk of adapting a gambling mentality, and start trying to chase your losses. Your play will suffer, your confidence will suffer, and your winnings will suffer. Just don’t do it, for any reason, ever. If you say you’ll move down at a certain bankroll amount, always do it.

The swings in poker are inevitable, and if you think you’ll just climb up stakes from $1 tournaments to $1,000 tournaments with no downswings you’re delusional. It’s much better to get used to the swings of the game and adapt your bankroll based on them when you’re only playing for a few bucks, so that you don’t have to learn the hard way later on by burning thousands of dollars chasing losses. You will move up a couple stakes, move down, move up a couple, move down.. Over time you’ll see the rewards of your patience and discipline.

At some point, your success in poker will happen – as long as you keep putting in the work and are dedicated to achieving your goals. When exactly this success comes is secondary – you can’t control how good or bad you run. Focus on practicing disciplined bankroll management and constantly leveling up your game, and great results are only a matter of time.

If you enjoyed this article and want to watch our in-depth foundational poker course for FREE, that touches on bankroll management, preflop, postflop, ICM and more, click here!


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