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Poker Mental Game & Planning

How Big of a Bankroll Do You Need to Play Poker for a Living?

5,564 Views on 7/6/23

In this article, we'll explore the topic of bankroll management in poker, and examine the question of how big of a bankroll you need to play poker for a living

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Poker is one of the most popular and lucrative games in the world, and for many players, it represents a way to earn a living. However, the path to becoming a professional poker player is not an easy one, and requires a combination of skill, discipline, and a significant bankroll. In this article, we'll explore the topic of bankroll management in poker, and examine the question of how big of a bankroll you need to play poker for a living.


What is Bankroll Management?

Bankroll management is the process of carefully managing the money you have set aside for playing poker. This includes deciding how much money you can afford to lose, as well as setting aside funds for other expenses such as rent, food, and other living expenses.

For professional poker players, bankroll management is a critical aspect of their success. Without proper bankroll management, even the most skilled players can quickly find themselves broke and out of the game.

There are several factors to consider when managing your bankroll, including your win rate, your risk tolerance, and your living expenses. Let's take a closer look at each of these factors.


Win Rate

Your win rate is the rate at which you win money over a certain period of time. It is typically expressed in terms of big blinds per 100 hands (BB/100). For example, a win rate of 5 BB/100 means that you win an average of 5 big blinds for every 100 hands you play.

Your win rate is a crucial factor in determining how much money you need in your bankroll. The higher your win rate, the less money you need in your bankroll to maintain your lifestyle. For example, a player with a win rate of 10 BB/100 can get by with a smaller bankroll than a player with a win rate of 2 BB/100.


Risk Tolerance

Your risk tolerance is your willingness to take risks in order to achieve a certain level of return. In poker, risk tolerance is closely related to the concept of variance. Variance refers to the ups and downs that occur naturally in the game of poker. Even the best players can go through extended periods of losing, which can have a significant impact on their bankroll.

Players with a high risk tolerance are more willing to take on these ups and downs in exchange for the potential for greater long-term gains. These players may be able to get by with a smaller bankroll because they are comfortable with the inherent risks of the game.

Players with a lower risk tolerance, on the other hand, are more risk-averse and prefer to minimize the potential for losing streaks. These players may require a larger bankroll to help them weather any extended losing streaks.


Living Expenses

Finally, your living expenses are an essential consideration when determining how big of a bankroll you need to play poker for a living. Your living expenses include rent, food, utilities, and other bills. It's crucial to have a clear understanding of your living expenses so that you can accurately determine how much money you need to earn from poker to maintain your lifestyle.


Calculating Your Bankroll Requirements

Now that we've discussed some of the factors that go into bankroll management, let's take a look at how you can calculate your bankroll requirements.

To determine your bankroll requirements, you need to consider your win rate, your risk tolerance, and your living expenses. Here's a simple formula you can use to get started:

Bankroll = (Win Rate x Hours Played x Big Blinds) / Variance

Let's break down this formula into its components.

  • Win Rate: Your win rate is expressed in terms of big blinds per 100 hands (BB/100). You should have a good idea of your win rate from your previous poker sessions. If you aren't sure, you can use tracking software or consult a coach to help you determine your win rate.
  • Hours Played: The number of hours you play per week is also an essential consideration. A player who plays 20 hours a week will need a smaller bankroll than a player who plays 40 hours a week. The more hours you play, the higher your bankroll requirements will be.
  • Big Blinds: The number of big blinds you play with is also a critical factor in determining your bankroll requirements. The higher the big blinds, the more money you will need in your bankroll to cover the potential losses.
  • Variance: Variance is a measure of the swings in your bankroll over time. It is expressed as a standard deviation and represents the amount of fluctuation you can expect in your bankroll. The higher the variance, the more money you will need in your bankroll to cover the potential losses.

Once you have determined these factors, you can plug them into the formula above to calculate your bankroll requirements.

For example, let's say you have a win rate of 5 BB/100, you play 30 hours per week, you play with 100 big blinds, and you have a variance of 50 big blinds. Using the formula above, your bankroll requirements would be:
Bankroll = (5 x 30 x 100) / 50 = $3,000

In this example, you would need a bankroll of $3,000 to maintain your lifestyle and cover your potential losses over a given period.


Factors to Consider

While the formula above is a useful starting point for calculating your bankroll requirements, it's essential to keep in mind that there are other factors to consider. Here are a few key things to keep in mind:

  • Game Selection: The game you choose to play can have a significant impact on your bankroll requirements. For example, a player who specializes in high-stakes games will need a larger bankroll than a player who plays lower-stakes games.
  • Skill Level: Your skill level is also a critical factor in determining your bankroll requirements. A highly skilled player may be able to get by with a smaller bankroll than a less skilled player.
  • Taxes: It's important to keep in mind that your poker winnings are subject to taxes. You will need to factor in your tax obligations when calculating your bankroll requirements.
  • Other Expenses: Finally, it's essential to consider other expenses such as travel, coaching, and equipment when determining your bankroll requirements.

Summary

Determining how big of a bankroll you need to play poker for a living is a complex question that depends on several factors. Your win rate, risk tolerance, and living expenses all play a critical role in determining your bankroll requirements. While there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, the formula outlined above provides a useful starting point for calculating your bankroll requirements. Ultimately, the key to success in poker is to develop strong bankroll management skills, maintain a disciplined approach to the game, and continually work to improve your skills and strategies.

Author

Mark Patrickson

Mark Patrickson is a professional cash game player grinding stakes up to 100nl 6 Max NL Hold'em13 years experience of poker, across MTT SnG and cash, FL PL NL.Currently living in South East Asia and trying to make it back to mid-stakes befo ... Read More

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