How People Build Poker Bankrolls

November 28, 2013 Posted in Poker by No Comments

poker bankrollEver watch a high stakes poker cash game and wonder how in the world people have so much money to play poker with that they can throw out $20,000 bets like it’s nothing? Heck, I even used to wonder the same thing when I watched medium stakes games online and saw people sitting at eight different tables with $1,000 buyins at each table.

I can tell you from first-hand experience that building a massive poker bankroll isn’t as magical as it may seem. Back in the day when Party Poker was open to US players, I managed to build an $80,000 bankroll within a relatively short timeframe. The secret was not as simple as having a lot of money and depositing it all at once.

The trick to building a bankroll is to start from the bottom and work your way up like almost everyone else does. Most of the high stakes players you see on TV or online did not start out at the high stakes games; they worked their way up from the bottom by playing poker, getting poker bonuses and constantly studying poker strategy.

Start with Poker Bonuses

The fastest way to start a poker bankroll is by getting online poker bonuses. Every poker site offers new players a bonus for signing up and playing poker. If you make a $500 deposit, for example, you’ll get an extra $500 on top of that. That’s the easiest way to double your bankroll during the crucial early stages of building a poker bankroll.

After you clear one poker bonus, you can move on to the next poker site and get another bonus. There are dozens of quality poker sites out there and several thousand dollars worth of poker bonuses to be had. When I first started building my poker bankroll, I hit up every online poker bonus I could find. Before I knew it, I had a bankroll sitting at about $3,000. Not a fortune, but still a very solid start.

Win Money at the Tables

You have to actually be a winning poker player to build a bankroll. No matter how many bonuses you get, you’ll never build a large poker bankroll if you don’t know how to be a winning poker player. The lesson here is to throw yourself into poker strategy. Read books, join poker training sites, join online poker forums and talk strategy with everyone who will listen.

You don’t have to be a genius to become a winning poker player. It requires discipline, dedication and a willingness to accept the fact that you don’t know everything. Become a humble student of poker strategy and you will reap the benefits many times over. Eventually, the money you win at the tables will dwarf anything you ever made by earning poker bonuses.

As I moved up in stakes, it got to the point where poker bonuses didn’t mean much to me. I could have a thousand dollar swing in either direction in a single session of poker. Sure, I’d take bonuses if they were given to me, but the key to building a bankroll switched from being about bonuses to actually beating other people at the tables.

Move Up in Stakes

This was kind of covered in the last section but still, here it is: constantly work to move up in stakes. Both online and live poker have stakes that range from very low to the ultra high. Moving up in stakes not only challenges you and makes you a better player, but it increases the amount of money you can earn every month.

Make your entire goal be to move up in stakes in poker. However, use a little caution when doing so. Only move up in stakes after you have built your bankroll up to a safe level (at least 20 buyins for the next level up) and after you have established a winning record at your current stakes.

When I moved up in stakes in poker, I would set aside a little extra money and take a shot. I would set aside a couple of buyins at the next level up and consider that money gone. Then I would take that money and play at the next level up. If I managed to stick around, I moved up for good. If I lost that money, I would move back down to my regular stakes and start building it up again for the next attempt.


Building a poker bankroll is a process. It is not some magical thing that just happens to celebrity poker players one day. If you want to build a large poker bankroll and move up to the highest levels of play, you can do so by following the process described in this article.

Start out by getting poker bonuses and then work on moving up in stakes by learning poker strategy, winning money and constantly trying to move up to the next level in stakes. Eventually, you will look back and realize that you have built a significant poker bankroll from scratch. Few feelings can beat that.