With any competitive activity, you have to know your limits, whether physical, mental, or financial, you need to be aware of where you stand. In no activity is this more important than dealing with your poker bankroll. A common recommendation for limit poker players is to have 200 times the big bet, but when you are playing no limit, things become a little tougher to figure, and having 200 times the big blind does not mean a whole lot. Knowing what kind of player you are will aid you in deciding what game to play.
A recreational player who can re-buy after any session is over, can buy in for 20% of there bankroll comfortably and without much hesitation. It is important to know that ideally you want to sit at the table with at least 50 times the big blind so that you have room to play your poker game strategy. If the table limits offered are only those high enough that you only have one buy in, then you should probably call it a night sooner than you thought.
Recreational players who do not plan on re-buying into the game may want to consider using a smaller portion of their bank roll. If you have 10 buy-ins for a particular game and are a winning player, you should be able to deal with any variance that may occur. If you are playing and you lose five of those buy ins, then stepping down in levels until you begin to run well again and can work your way back up.
Players who rely on poker to pay some or all of their bills are in a different boat. A professional poker player HAS to have some what of a safety net. If you are playing on tight money, run terrible and lose your bankroll, it means you need to find a new line of work. If this is the case for you, you must be extremely cautious with your money. The bankroll math changes greatly when it is not only your poker bankroll but your life bankroll. If this is the case, then you do not ever want to put more than five percent of your bankroll on the table. This means if you are looking to play in a $2/4 game with a $500 buy in, you should not even consider it unless your bankroll is $10000 or more. When you are used to playing those levels, stepping down a but can be a tough thing to do, but you need to realize what id best for your poker career. If by these rules you are having trouble playing in $100 buy in games, then you may want to consider making poker a hobby, and not a career. You can’t make withdraws from your bankroll to pay rent and bills when your bankroll is only 25% larger than said expenses.
One thing to make sure of is to take things slow, yes everyone wants that big score, or that big session of playing 200/400, but most of us will never have that kind of bankroll. Moving up to fast will crush any chances you ever had at making it as a poker player, so take your time. There is nothing wrong with crushing $25NL until your bankroll is truly big enough to move up. Managing your bankroll well will keep you off the rail and on the felt.