Today’s article comes from a Twitter question asked by one of my followers. This player wanted advice on how to build a bankroll from $1,000. This is a common question as this is a reasonable amount of money to scrape up for a starter bankroll.
First, with a bankroll of this size, you must have access to online poker. In live poker, the cost to run a game is much higher to the operator. They must pay a dealer, they need to have the physical table, chairs, cards which is a large upfront cost, they also have a beverage cost if those are complimentary. All that said, the casino needs to charge a lot to have the incentive to run a game. Therefore, the smallest no-limit game you see in the casino is $1/$2 no-limit. The casino needs to rake on average $5 a hand to make a profit. If they ran say $.05/$.10 micro stakes, they would have to rake the entire pot to break even. Online poker rooms do not face this issue since they just have the server and upfront software costs. Online poker rooms can spread tournaments for as little as $.50 and cash games at the $.01/.02 level.
You could go play live poker at the $1/$2 level, but this would only leave you with a bankroll of 5 buy-ins and a high likelihood of going bust. Therefore, you need access to online poker. For cash games, I would recommend playing $.10/$.25 games, giving yourself a 40 buy-in bankroll, and for tournaments no more than $5-$10 buy-ins. Cash games are the slow and steady method, tournaments are your extra shot taking to build your bankroll. You should keep at least 100, if not 200 buy-ins in your bankroll for tournaments. The quickest way to go broke is trying to play too big of tournaments as the variance is too high.
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Building your bankroll is not a sprint, it is a marathon. You are building the fundamentals that will help you succeed at the highest levels. You should be studying away from the tables as much as you are playing. For every 1 hour of play I would suggest 1 hour of study. The reason I suggest so much is when you are playing micro stakes, you are most likely making many mistakes that you can fix. The return on investment of 1 hour of studying will greatly increase your win-rate compared to a high stakes regular. It is much easier to go from winning 5bb/100 at micro stakes to 10bb/100 at micro stakes with a few hours of studying fixing a few key mistakes you are making. That same few hours of studying might yield a high stakes player an increase of .05 bb/100.
By building your bankroll slowly and organically, you will see consistent improvements in your game and gradually move up in stakes. Moving up in stakes shouldn’t just be about having the proper bankroll, it should be the ability to win at the higher stakes. Once you build that bankroll up to $2000, the next stake would be $.25/$.50. I would take $500, 10 buy-ins, as your shot at the next level. If you lose, you simply move back down to $.1/$.25 level. You will have gained experience and be able to study why you lost. Was it variance? Was it tougher competition? Was it being unfamiliar with the player pool? Study more and work your way back up and try again using the same method. It may take a few times, but each time you should be a stronger player and your chances for success will be higher.
Building your bankroll from a small amount is about grinding. You need to put in a lot of hours, both studying and playing. Think long term and do not worry about sprinting to the higher stakes. 2-3 years from now with hard work, lots of studying and lots of playing, and a little luck, that $1,000 bankroll could easily be $10k, $20k, or even more. Once you are at those levels, it will build exponentially faster. I will also note that this should be a side gig and not your job at these levels. It would be impossible to build a bankroll from $1,000 if you are consistently removing living expenses from your bankroll. Keep your poker money completely separate from your personal money and expenses.
Best of luck