Sports & Games

What Is Bankroll Management (Poker)? Daniel Negreanu Explains the Poker Concept

Written by MasterClass

Mar 8, 2019 • 2 min read

MasterClass Video Lessons

Daniel Negreanu Teaches Poker

Whether you’re playing no-limit hold’em or any style of online poker, poker bankroll management is an important part of your overall strategy. Read on to learn tips on how to manage your bankroll from professional poker player Daniel Negreanu.


What Is a Poker Bankroll?

Poker bankroll is the amount of money a player has set aside to play with at the poker table. You should only ever add discretionary or recreational funds to your bankroll. Proper bankroll managements means if you lost the entire bankroll, you’d still be able to pay rent, afford bills, and be able to sustain yourself.

daniel negreanu smiling at a poker table dn


Why Do the Best Players All Have Big Bankrolls?

If there’s a constant in poker, it’s variance. So having a bankroll large enough to withstand the game’s natural variance is crucial to success as a professional poker player. It doesn’t matter how good you are—if your bankroll is too small, you will go broke. For live cash games, you need a bankroll that will cover at least 20 buy-ins. The smaller your skill edge, the larger your bankroll needs to be.

As Daniel puts it:

“No matter how good you are, there will be deviation in terms of luck . . . and if you don’t have enough resources to fade those streaks of good and bad luck, no matter how good you are, you will go broke.”

What Is the Risk of Ruin?

Risk of ruin (gambler’s ruin), is the concept that your risk of losing it all goes up with each bet. Your risk-of-ruin percentage depends upon two things:

  • The size of your bankroll
  • Your skill level

To decrease your level of risk, you can play with a larger bankroll. The better player you are, the lower the risk of ruin. It goes without saying that this only applies to winning players. No bankroll is big enough for a losing player.

Just because you have a large bankroll, doesn’t mean you should move up in stakes. Higher stakes makes it easier to lose it all. You can take shots and move back down again if your results are poor. Often this process is repeated many times before you move up permanently.

How to Track Results For Better Bankroll Management

It is important to track your results accurately. The typical metrics you should record include:

  • Venue. Is this a live game or online? Are you playing in a casino or elsewhere?
  • Game type. Cash games versus tournament poker, as well as multi-table tournaments versus single-table tournaments can all impact your game.
  • Hours. For online poker games, you can utilize database software, which calculates your hourly rate and overall win rate. Live players should always keep track of their hourly rate.

The Best Way to Increase Your Poker Bankroll

Daniel advises that cash games be your anchor when it comes to regular income. Tournaments exhibit much more extreme variance and cannot be relied upon as a source of income for live players. Cash games will allow you to steadily increase your bankroll in a safer way.

Learn more about bankroll management from Daniel Negreanu here.