Bankroll Management in Online Poker

Online poker is a very different animal than live poker, and
even more so when you consider reasonable bankroll management
skills. Online play tends to have a higher element of variance,
which in turn means that you are going to almost always carry
more money in your bankroll. The diversity in available game
types is another characteristic that’s unique to the online

You aren’t going to worry about a bankroll for low limit
heads up Pot Limit Omaha if you only play live poker, for
example. The guidelines for ideal bankroll management strategies
are going to vary from player to player, but there are a number
of dynamics that will remain relatively unchanged.

There are three primary elements involved in
bankroll management for
online poker players. The first area
to look at is playing style. If you are wild and aggressive, you
are going to be much more prone to significant up and downswings,
than someone who is very tight and passive. The next factor in
bankroll management is the type of game that you tend to play.
An Omaha player will encounter more roller coaster rides than
someone who plays Limit Texas Hold’em.

Finally, your tolerance
for big swings will determine what amount of money will be most
reasonable to play with. If you are able to lose multiple buy
ins and not break a sweat, you won’t need to carry as much money
as someone who is going to stress with one lost buy-in. As you
can see, bankroll management is much more about you and your
specific attributes than it is about right and wrong.

Playing Style

Playing styles come in many different shapes and sizes. For
the most part, a player will either fall into the category of
aggressive, passive, or somewhere in between. The more
aggressive that you are, the more money that you are going to
need. So, with that in mind, a sliding scale should be involved
in determining how much money you are going to need. If the most
aggressive player needs 100 buy-ins for a game, the tightest, most
passive player might only need 50 buy-ins. Catering your
specific style of play is crucial to forming ideal bankroll

Primary Game(s)

There are many different
types of games that can be played in
online poker. Beyond this, there are a number of different
limits within those game types that you can also choose from.
Since the list of games and limits online are virtually un-ending,
it’s impossible to say which ones will demand what
amount of buy-ins. However, the following guideline should give
you a head start to figuring out how many buy-ins you will need.


Omaha is the game with the largest amount of variance.
Unless you are playing hi/lo Omaha, you should expect many large
swings on a repeated basis. You could win five buy-ins one day
and lose ten buy-ins the next. As ridiculous as this sounds, it
shouldn’t be considered abnormal. As a result of this, Omaha
players will need more buy-ins than anyone else.

Texas Hold’em

Texas Hold’em is the most popular form of poker, so the
majority of players will use this game as their framework when
outlining ideal bankroll sizes. No Limit games will need almost
as many buy-ins as are required in Omaha, but Limit players have
it quite easy. Where NLHE and Omaha players are prone to massive
swings in one direction or the other, Limit players tend to keep
things quite steady and calm. If you prefer small wins and small
losses, Limit Hold’em is definitely the game for you as you’ll
be able to play at higher limits with a lot less money.

Heads Up

Just as Omaha has the heaviest
bankroll requirements according to game, heads up play will
require the most buy-ins according to format. Heads up players
will need to have much more money than their 6-max and full ring
counterparts as they are very prone to huge swings. In fact,
heads up play of any sort is going to trump the type of game
that is being played. If you are a heads up specialist, you’ll
need to have a hefty wallet.

6-Max and Full Ring

6-Max and full ring games require the lightest bankroll of
any type of table. Whereas heads up tables are chock full of
wild swings, the ups and downs in these games aren’t nearly as

Tolerance for Variance

Your own tolerance for variance should also factor into the
ultimate bankroll management equation. If you have no issue
absorbing big swings, don’t worry about a huge amount of padding
in your bankroll. If you are worried whenever you lose a buy-in,
make sure you have enough money to endure the inevitable bad
runs. Only you are going to be aware of just how much variance
you are able to handle.

General Guidelines


  • Heads Up-75 buy-ins for low limit games and 150+ for higher
    limit games.
  • 6-6-Max and Full Ring-35 buy-ins for low limit games and 100+
    for higher limit games.

Texas Hold’em

  • Heads Up-50 buy-ins for low limit games and 100+ buy-ins for
    higher limit games.
  • 6-Max and Full Ring-25 buy-ins for low limit games and 50+
    for higher limit games.