How Much Bankroll Do You Need to Play Poker for A Living?

Home » How Much Bankroll Do You Need to Play Poker for A Living?

A well-managed bankroll is essential to play poker for a living in the United States. Determining the appropriate bankroll size involves assessing factors such as skill level, win rate, game selection, living expenses, risk tolerance, and bankroll growth.

By adopting a disciplined approach to bankroll management, you’ll be better equipped to navigate the ups and downs of the game and increase your chances of achieving long-term success as a professional poker player.

play poker for a living

Understanding Bankroll Management

Bankroll management is a strategic approach to handling your poker funds to ensure you can withstand variance and sustain your livelihood as a professional player. Even the most skilled players can be in dire financial situations without proper bankroll management. So, let’s explore the key considerations for determining the optimal bankroll size.

Skill Level and Win Rate

Your skill level and win rate are fundamental to determining your bankroll requirements. Generally, the higher your win rate, the smaller your bankroll needs to be. A higher win rate cushions against potential downswings, allowing you to maintain a consistent income. If you’re a solid player with a win rate of around 5-10%, you should aim for a bankroll of 20-30 buy-ins for cash games and up to 100 buy-ins for tournaments.

Game Selection

The type and stakes of your poker games significantly impact your bankroll requirements. Different games have varying levels of volatility and risk. Cash games tend to have less variance than tournaments, making them more suitable for players seeking stability.

As a guideline, for cash games, aim for a bankroll of at least 20-30 buy-ins. For example, if you play $1/$2 No-Limit Hold’em, a bankroll of $4,000 to $6,000 would be appropriate. For tournaments, due to higher variance, consider having a bankroll of up to 100 buy-ins to mitigate potential downswings.

Living Expenses and Safety Net

When contemplating poker as a profession, it’s crucial to account for your living expenses. Ensure you have a separate bankroll to cover your costs, such as rent, bills, groceries, and healthcare.

As a guideline, have a minimum of 6-12 months’ living expenses in a separate fund. This ensures that your poker bankroll remains intact, shielding you from financial hardships. Additionally, having a safety net or an emergency fund is essential to mitigate unexpected downturns or periods of bad luck.

Risk Tolerance

Understanding your risk tolerance is vital in determining the appropriate bankroll for playing poker professionally. Some players prefer a conservative approach, maintaining a larger bankroll to protect against potential losses. Others may be more comfortable with a smaller bankroll and accept higher risks. Assess your risk appetite objectively to strike the right balance between security and flexibility.

Bankroll Growth and Management

As a professional poker player, your bankroll should have room for growth. Allocating a portion of your profits towards bankroll expansion allows you to move to higher-stakes games and increase your earning potential. However, it’s crucial to be disciplined and avoid excessive risks that could jeopardize your financial stability.


Determining the ideal bankroll for playing poker professionally is crucial to achieving your dream of making a living from the game. While there are general guidelines and suggested amounts to consider, it’s important to remember that every player’s situation is unique.

As you embark on your professional poker journey, take the time to assess your circumstances and goals. Consult with experienced players or seek advice from poker communities to gain insights and perspectives. Remember that bankroll management is an ongoing process that requires adaptability and discipline. Regularly review and adjust your bankroll strategy as your skills and circumstances evolve.