Building a Poker Bankroll

Poker Bankroll Building Tips

Building a Poker BankrollIf you’re new to online poker you must understand where your money will come from. Over half of it should come from your opponents. However, a large portion will come from promotions the site runs and online poker bonuses. Failing to capture this money is a huge leak, which could leave you treading water. Building a bankroll and maximizing your bonuses are very important in the long run for playing poker online. This article will explain:


1. Why bonuses are important for building a bankroll.

2. How to find the value of poker promotions.

3. How to move your poker money around in a way that maximizes benefits and builds your bankroll.

4. How to estimate your promotion/bonus rate per 100 hands. (As we’ll see in a later article, this rate influences the stakes you should play.)

1. Using poker room bonuses to build your bankroll

Many sites offer a first time deposit bonus. At most sites this is 100% of the deposit amount, the limit varies from site to site. That means the poker rooms will give you 100% of your deposit for free. This bonus is limited to $50 at PokerStars; $500 on Absolute Poker; $600 on Full Tilt Poker.

My advice is to start at PokerStars.

This will allow you to take full advantage of these free bonuses with the minimum initial investment. After your bankroll is large enough to make the full bonus at other sites, you can go there. If you have $600 (you will not be treating this as part of your bankroll) you don’t need for a couple weeks, you can make the full deposit at Absolute or Full Tilt, and then withdraw $500. The key is to get the full bonus. Failing to capture the full bonus is the same as wasting hundreds of dollars.

Many sites offer regular deposit bonuses on an ongoing basis. These are bonuses you receive for depositing money on a site. They will usually be 15% to 25% of the deposit amount. At some sites they will be your bread and butter. For example, Absolute Poker offers $100 to $400 worth of these free bonuses each week. Unfortunately for new players, obtaining these bonuses requires a roll of several thousand dollars, as getting the full bonus amount requires a large deposit. The good news is it will not tie your money up. You may withdraw before you clear the bonus. With a larger roll, my advice is to keep a minimum of $1,000 outside of poker accounts, so that you can take advantage of these bonuses—many of them will be invalid if you withdraw prior to depositing during the bonus period.

2. Building your bankroll with poker room promotions:

Most sites offer other promotions that can be redeemed for cash and help further build your bankroll. For example, PokerStars gives VPPs; Absolute Poker gives its players Absolute Reward Points (ARPs). Either of these can be redeemed for cash. Furthermore, Absolute Poker pays 9% interest to their VIP Elites, who don’t withdraw or transfer over the course of a month. Take advantage of all the various poker room promotions to help increase your online poker bankroll.

3. Moving Your Money Around

To Maximize your Bankroll

Open a bank account whose sole purpose is poker. This will make it easy to keep track of how much you’ve won or lost. It will also keep you from spending your poker bankroll.

An account at eWalletXpress, will allow you to move money around for free. There is no fee for poker site ‡ eWalletXpress transactions; there is no fee for eWalletXpress ‡ poker site transactions. The trick is getting money from eWalletXpress to your bank account. If you do this directly, eWalletXpress will charge you a significant fee. To avoid this fee transfer the money to a poker site and cash out through the poker site (you’ll still pay a fee, but it will be a small one).

4. Valuating Bonuses/Promotions

By valuating your bonuses and promotions from the various poker rooms, you are essentially determining your bonus rate for each game your play, which will help you determine your overall poker “win rate”. Win rate will help you determine the stakes you play. Determining the stakes you play help you build a larger bankroll over time and help you earn more over time. See where I’m going here.

Keep track of the number of reward points and bonuses in Excel. At the end of the month record how many hands you played in each game (this is unrealistic without PokerTracker or a similar program) and how many points you earned. For example, sheet one could be PokerStars and sheet 2 could be Absolute Poker. Column A would contain bonuses cleared; Column B would contain VPPs or ARPs earned; column C would contain the total value of the bonus cleared; column D would contain number of hands played at $1/2 NL; column D would contain the number of hands played at $5/10 FL, etc.

The tough part is determining how many VPPs or ARPs came from each game. And how much bonus money came from each game. Let’s say the data from Absolute Poker is listed below:

Time Period
Bonus $
Hands 5/10 FL
Hands 1/2 FL
Period 1
Period 2


Let’s say I make X ARPs per hand at 5/10 FL and Y ARPs per hand at 1/2 NL. Now I can set up two equations, two unknowns:

Equation 1:

10,000X + 10,000Y = 50,000

Equation 2:

15,000X + 10,000Y = 60,000

Subtract Equation 2 from Equation 1:

-5,000X = -10,000 -> X = 2

Plug that into equation 1:

10,000*2 + 10,000Y = 50,000 -> Y = 3

That’s 300 ARPs/100 at 1/2 NL and 200 ARPs/100 at 5/10 FL; ARPs are worth $0.015 each; that’s $4.5/100 at 1/2 NL and $3/100 at 5/10 FL. (This is just an example, these numbers are not accurate.)

This method is more accurate than recording one session at a particular level, because the number of points you earn each hands varies. So a larger sample will give better results.

The same method is used to determine the bonus/100. Caution: The bonus calculation will only be accurate if you were clearing a bonus the entire time you were playing.

Conclusion on Bankroll Building in Poker:

There is plenty of money to be made with bonuses and promotions, especially for micro and small stakes players. You can’t afford to pass these opportunities up.

Building a bankroll is just your first step in becoming a regular winning poker player online.  The next thing you must learn is how to calculate your variance in poker.