poker bankroll management tips

A 5-Step Plan For Growing Your Bankroll (And Staying Happy While Doing It)

There is a lot of content online that will help you increase your poker earnings.

You can learn how to be smart about losing sessions, for example, or tips for improving at live poker.

Yet, there isn’t much advice out there on how to use your poker earnings. Most content aims to teach you how to make more money, but a question remains: then what?

Now, this is a sensitive topic. Who am I to tell you what do with your winnings? How can I know the optimal approach for you?

The reality is that I can’t know what’s best for you, so I won’t try to give you advice. Instead, I’ll outline the 5-step plan that I wish I could teach my younger self. Then, you can tailor the advice to fit your personal goals and priorities.

The goal of this 5-step plan is to grow a bankroll while maximizing happiness and minimizing stress.

In other words, with the benefit of hindsight, I’ll outline a plan that ensures the profits my younger self earns at the table have a positive impact on his happiness and success.

Note by ‘profits’ I mean all remaining funds after life expenses–rent, bills, etc–have been subtracted. (Those of you that play poker on the side and have a job that covers expenses don’t have to worry about that.)

If you’re a relatively new poker player, or an experienced one who, like me, spent little time planning out how to use profits from playing poker, then this article is for you.

My 5-step plan for bankroll growth

Step 1: Add 40% of all winnings to your bankroll

If you’re playing poker full-time, or if you’re a recreational player aspiring to play higher limits, it’s important to invest in your poker future.

Bankroll-decimating downswings have caused many players to lose their passion for poker. By working diligently to grow your bankroll at the outset, you will reduce the likelihood of becoming another busto casualty of the game.

Of course, this assumes you will simultaneously (and continuously) be working on improving your game. Otherwise, reinvesting in your bankroll could become a case of throwing good money after bad.

Grind hard, study harder, and learn to cherish your bankroll.

Once you have built a nice safety net for yourself, further winnings should be added to listed below.

(Note: Learn and master the methods behind world class poker players’ successes in The Lab, an extensive poker training course that is updated every month. Click here or below to learn more!)

Step 2: Invest 20% of your profits in other interests

You’re passionate about poker, but do you have other passions? A side interest you’d like to grow? A business? An artistic project?

Investing time and money in interests outside of poker will help you stay motivated and inspired while working through the inevitable highs and lows of the game.

And, beyond emotional benefits, investing in other projects could provide a sensible and easily-attainable exit strategy from poker should you ever get burnt out.

Step 3: Put 15% of your profit in a rainy day fund

Though it’s not the sexiest way to “spend” your winnings, saving is important. Life is highly unpredictable, and a rainy day fund may help get you through stressful financial situations.

And, when things are going well, having a safety net will give you peace of mind, and allow you to take risks others only dream about taking. (Cryptos anyone?)

Step 4: Spend 15% on enjoying yourself

You’ve worked hard for your winnings, so don’t be afraid to treat yourself!

Deliberate and controlled spending drastically reduces the likelihood of a robusto to busto situation.

Of course, the ideal way to splurge from a purely EV standpoint is to spend profits on things that foster personal growth, as opposed to a top-shelf bottle of whisky, for example, or on a new iPhone. But at the end of the day we need to feel rewarded, so go ahead and set aside some funds to help you accomplish that feeling.

Step 5: Reward yourself by giving money away

Poker is an inherently “selfish” endeavor, but there truly is no pleasure greater than bringing joy to others.

As James Van Der Zee, the trailblazing photographer once said,

“Happiness is perfume, you can’t pour it on somebody else without getting a few drops on yourself.”

You can give meaning to your struggles at the table by bringing happiness others, and by giving to causes that you care about.

Whether it’s donating to charity, buying a gift for a loved one, or just taking your friends out for drinks, you’ll find it rewarding to give to others. And if the science of giving is accurate, you’ll really just be rewarding yourself.

I hope you found my 5-step plan helpful. Perhaps you’ll consider using it as the template to create your own unique plan going forward.

Note: If you’re serious about improving your cash game and tournament skills, check out The Upswing Lab. Click here or below to learn more.

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About the Author


Yaniv Son, known online by the poker moniker Sentin7, is a professional player and author with over a decade of poker experience who owns and operates the poker strategy site

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