One of the most important questions a beginner poker player should ask himself is: "What level should I be playing if I have X amount of money". The answer to this question varies, depending on what your poker goals are. If you like playing just for fun and make a poker deposit of $50 or so every week or two, then play whatever you want. However, if you're here trying to make some solid money playing poker and don't want to keep refilling your account, then bankroll management is for you.
So here are some bankroll management tips for the serious beginning player:
It's important to have about 20 buy-ins for whatever level you'd like to play. 100 big blinds is generally the amount accepted as the buy-in. For example, at the .02/.05 NL level you would need a minimum of $100 (20 buy-ins x .05 big blind x 100). If you have $50 the level you should be at is .01/.02 till you're able to raise it to one hundred dollars, then you're allowed to play at level .02/.05. When you're attempting to play at a higher level, don't be ashamed to move back down if it proves too difficult. Here is an example: With your $100 bankroll you've just made it to the .02/.05 level. If you run bad and the poker hands you're getting just aren't helping, you absolutely must drop a level to .01/.02 if you drop to 15 buy-ins ($75). Then, when you climb back up to $100, move back up. I've never met anyone who has played the game long enough that did not have to drop down at least a level. People go broke simply because they were too proud to use bankroll management. Good poker players will jump between almost every new level they play until they get used to the type of play the next level brings.
As you move up to levels of about 100nl and up, I would be even more guarded with my bankroll and probably a minimum of 30 buy-ins would be more safe.
Sit n' Go Tournaments (SNGs)
Tournaments most likely will have a little more variance than cash games. As a result, it's a good idea to have a bigger bankroll to absorb the swings. It's a good rule of thumb to have about 40 buy-ins for SNGs. So, using our $100 bankroll, you should be playing somewhere around a $2.20 buy-in until you get up to about $130. Once you're up to a $130 bankroll you can play $3 games and see how well you play. Again, don't be scared to drop some levels if you are not playing very well.
Multi-Table Tourneys (MTTs)
Multi-Table Tournaments are tempting for many people because they offer some absolutely amazing payouts if you last to the end. However, the variance is very high with MTTs and you can easily go on very long streaks out of the money. Therefore, it is recommended that you have at least 100 buy-ins to play MTTs. Remember if playing re-buys that you should plan on at least 1 re-buy and 1 add-on into the cost of the tournament. Generally you'll need even more than that to place so be cautious of that. For example, in order to enter a $3 re-buy MTT you should plan on a minimum of $9 and when you multiply that by the 100 buy-ins rule you'll see that you'd need a minimum of $900 in your bankroll to play.
Here's a tip for players on a limited bankroll looking to play MTTs: think about playing some satellites. Satellites usually have very low buy-ins and the play is often quite poor, so this can be a good option to gain experience and maybe even win a ticket worth a large chunk of your bankroll. If you happen to win a satellite it might be tempting to take a shot at a bigger tourney. Resist this temptation! The correct thing to do is grind more games within your bankroll with your tournament money.
An Easy Way to Pad the Bankroll
The preferred plan for increasing your bankroll is, of course, to play several poker hands. An important method of padding the bankroll along the way, though, is by receiving bonuses in the online rooms where you play. One of the most attractive options is the no deposit poker bonus that is offered by some sites. This is an excellent method of starting off the bankroll if you're just starting to play poker or to boost the bankroll if you're grinding micro stakes. If you're a U.S. citizen, you'll for sure need to know some US friendly poker sites. The most popular of these online rooms are PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker. The most generous PokerStars bonus is the first deposit bonus of 100% up to $600 provided you use the PokerStars marketing code flopturnriver. They also often provide reload bonuses and freeroll options. If you'd rather check out the Full Tilt bonus, their deposit bonus is the same when you use the Full Tilt referral code MAXBONUS600 : 100% bonus up to $600. But in addition to that, through Flop Turn River you'll also gain access to $800 in monthly tournaments on Full Tilt Poker when you use our referral code.
Final Thoughts on Bankroll Management
You're always going to be tempted to play higher levels than your bankroll will allow. Follow the plan religiously and you shouldn't have to worry about depositing money ever again! Don't worry about what levels other people are playing or what others feel about the game your're playing. Just play whatever your bankroll allows, or watch your money dwindle. It's always better to err on the side of caution. However, if you have a nicely cushioned bankroll and are just afraid to increase the stakes, you need to bite the bullet and start climbing. When the time feels right, make your move at some higher shots, and don't be afraid to move up and down. Before you know it you'll be a regular at the mid-stakes games with a fat bankroll.