According to a 2013 article in Forbes magazine, eight out of 10 businesses are doomed to fail – usually because they run out of money. You can be the best entrepreneur in the world, but if you don’t have cashflow, you can’t operate a business. That’s the way poker works, too. Skills are important; maintaining your bankroll is even more important.

That’s why we’re giving you this free Beginner’s Guide to Poker Bankroll Management. Before you play poker for real money at Bovada, please take a moment to read these simple recommendations for how to protect and build your bankroll while you’re at the tables.

What Is Poker Bankroll Management?

When we talk about bankroll management (BRM) in poker, we’re talking about how to handle the money that you have set aside to play the game – that includes the money in your Bovada account, as well as any other funds you have dedicated specifically for playing poker. BRM Rule No. 1: Keep your poker money separate from the rest of your money.

While this article covers poker bankroll management for beginners, we can’t stress enough how important BRM is for intermediate and advanced players as well. The basic principles of BRM should be applied no matter where you are on your poker journey; there are more advanced BRM concepts you can learn here at Bovada to improve your skills in this area, once you’ve got the basics down pat.

Using Bovada’s Online Poker Bonuses With Your Bankroll

While you’re learning the nuts and bolts of BRM, you can protect yourself and give your bankroll a boost by taking advantage of the bonuses and promotions available at Bovada Poker. The 100% Poker Welcome Bonus is the centerpiece; we’ll match your initial deposit dollar-for-dollar, for up to $500 in bonus cash that you can use at the tables. Every dollar counts when you’re starting out at poker, so keep an eye on our Promotions page and grab these bonuses whenever you can.

Risking Your Bankroll

The general concept behind BRM is to keep your risk of ruin at a minimum. You don’t want to run out of cash and become one of those 80% of failed businesses. In poker, anything higher than a 5% risk of ruin is considered undesirable. Something closer to 2% is much more palatable.

To achieve this, you need to play at stakes that don’t put too much of your bankroll on the table all at once. Imagine a diversified portfolio where you have your money spread across a number of investments, like a combination of index funds, bonds, and a smattering of high-risk stocks. Every hand of poker you play is an investment; if you bet your entire bankroll on one hand, your risk of ruin will soar through the roof. Don’t let this happen to you. Spread that investment over a large number of hands, at stakes you can afford.

Building Your Bankroll

In the beginning, as you’re learning how to build a working cash game strategy and/or multi-table tournament strategy, you can expect your bankroll to go down more than it goes up – which is why that 100% Poker Welcome Bonus is so important. Instead of assuming you’re going to boss the tables, focus on minimizing your losses by playing at the lowest stakes available – that’ll be 2c/5c for cash poker, and a $1 buy-in or less for tournaments.

Here’s the good news: If you’re willing and able, you can learn how to “beat” the microstakes in a fairly short amount of time. And once you do, you can concentrate on building your bankroll rather than just protecting it. The key here is to think about optimal growth; that is, to get those digits moving upwards as quickly and smoothly as possible, while also maintaining your low risk of ruin.

This can be achieved by playing the poker games at Bovada that give you the best return on your investment, as measured by your hourly winrate. Of course, you’ll need to do some accounting to figure out your winrate at the tables. Keep track of this by downloading your hand histories and looking at the results over a suitably large number of hands – putting in 100,000 hands is recommended, but you can get some idea of your performance over 10,000 hands. You might want to use some reliable poker tracking software to help you do the accounting.

Where Your Bankroll Should Start

As a beginner, you should consider starting your poker journey with enough bankroll to help you collect as much of that Welcome Bonus money as possible – at least $500. That should be enough for you to play a healthy number of hands at the microstakes. If you happen to run out early, there’s no shame in reloading, but take a moment first to consider how your journey is going, and whether you want to continue. And as with any investment, only play poker with dedicated poker money that you can afford to lose.

Beyond that, once you’re a winning player at the microstakes and you know your winrate, you can figure out how big your bankroll should be to keep your risk of ruin suitably low. There are free poker variance calculators you can use online to help you do the math, but as a very quick rule of thumb, you’ll want at least 20 buy-ins if you’re playing the cash games. At the 2c/5c tables, if you’re buying in for 100 big blinds at a time, that means 20 times $5, or $100 in total. If you’re playing tournaments, you’ll want at least 100 buy-ins, so again, that’s $100 for tournaments where the buy-in is $1 or less.

That’s your beginner’s guide to bankroll management. You now have all the basic BRM tools you need to start your poker journey the right way. You can learn more about BRM by browsing our archive here at Bovada. In the meantime, keep working on your game, enjoy yourself, and best of luck at the tables.