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Bankroll Guide

In our Bankroll Strategy section, we lay out an argument for why bankroll considerations are so important when determining such things as our limits and when to change limits, up or down. This raises the question of how to get that bankroll to begin with?

There are two options for creating your poker bankroll. The easiest, and most obvious is to use money you currently have to make a deposit. Read Funding your poker account for all the details on how to set up a Neteller account if you choose this option. For those of us who are a bit more frugal, you can try building your poker bankroll using no deposit bonuses, freeroll tournaments, etc. - without ever depositing any of your own money. While more difficult, there is definitely something to be said for risking nothing and playing with someone elses money!

For those of you choosing option two, building a bankroll for free, the outline below should help you in your quest.

Learn the Basics First

Good poker strategy sites are a great place to start, as well as good poker books from your local bookstore or library. Every dime counts when you are starting out with small free money bankrolls supplied by poker rooms, so you do not want to waste any of this learning the basics of the game! Study the game, try your hand at the play money tables, and read everything you can about low limit holdem strategy. By taking this first step you will give yourself a huge advantage over most of the other players at the low limit tables, and greatly increase your chances of growing your bankroll into something significant.

Look for the Free Chips!

Check our No Deposit Bonuses section for the latest list of freebie chips. I started my own poker bankroll with $10 in free chips from Royal Vegas and built it to over $1000 before making a withdrawal. Trust me, it can be done. I am not the only one to have done it. You should also be on the lookout for freerolls. There are freerolls at practically every poker site. Some require that you play a certain number of raked hands each day, but some are completely free to join, even if you have never made a deposit. These offer great chances to go from a $0 bankroll to hundreds of dollars in some cases. There are enough opportunities in the host of poker rooms active today that with luck and a solid background in holdem strategy, you can build one of these starting amounts to a bankroll of a couple hundred dollars.

Move up Slowly

I prefer to have at least 200x the big blind to play a particular limit. In the case of such a small starting bankroll, this will not be an option early on. However you should start at the lowest limits available. After you begin to build, you will want to have a bare minimum of 50x the big blind to move up to a higher limit, preferably 100x. Once you've moved up, do not be afraid to move back down. In fact if you go on a losing run, you will have to move back down or risk losing your entire bankroll. You will quickly understand what variance means in poker. Your bankroll will seem to be on a roller coaster at times, but it should always be advancing ever higher in the long run.

Bonus Whoring

After you have built your bankroll to at least $200, you can begin the very profitable stage of bonus whoring. Most poker rooms offer a deposit bonus for first time depositors. At this point it is time to create a Neteller account for yourself and make your first deposit. Most poker rooms, even the no deposit bonus types require you to make a minimum deposit before withdrawing any winnings. I would advise making a deposit large enough to earn the entire bonus from the site that you currently have a "no deposit" bankroll. You can always withdraw it back to your bank account. If you wish, you can make the minimum deposit, generally $15 to $20, and this will allow you to withdraw your entire balance to your Neteller account.

Once your poker bankroll is in your Neteller account, you will want to visit our poker bonuses page and find the most profitable bonuses. You are looking for bonuses that you can max out. If a site requires a $500 deposit for the max 20% bonus, you should try to wait until you have $500 so that you can earn the maximum bonus. Otherwise you're just throwing money away. Find a site that will give you a max bonus for a $200 deposit or less. These deposits are first time only deposits, so you want to get the most bang for your buck. These bonuses also generally require a set number of hands to be played before the bonuses are released, so read up on the Terms and Conditions so that you go in well informed.

Mission Accomplished (and beyond)

After running the bonus whoring gambit for several rooms you could well be looking at a bankroll of $1000 or more if you have managed to win money while clearing the bonuses. At this point I would suggest settling down to a favorite room or two. If your goal is to move up in limits and become a better poker player, you will need to start learning the arts of note taking and depending on poker winnings not bonuses to make up the greater part of your bankroll. When choosing the room that you'll spend a great deal of your time at, be sure to check for reload bonus frequency at each room. Some rooms like Absolute Poker offer reloads every week, while others offer them once per month and still others, very rarely. These reloads can prove to be a nice boost to your bankroll.