Sit and Go Bankroll Strategy

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Of all the questions that poker noobs ask, sit and go bankroll strategy questions are the most common. Well, maybe questions about starting hands and charts. But it’s close.


The problem with answering bankroll management questions is that the answers are all relative. It depends. What does it depend on?

  • You – Are you any good at sit n go’s, or do you suck at them? If you’re a losing player, you’re going to lose money at a faster clip than a breakeven or winning player will. So you’ll want a deeper bankroll to account for that.
  • Your goals – Do you just want to play a couple hours a day for fun, or do you want to eventually become a pro player? Being a pro player is like owning your own business — you need money to run your business (buy-ins, tools, coaching, etc), and then you need money on top of that to pay your bills and live. You’ll also need extra money to make it through the days/weeks/months where you don’t make anything at all.
  • The sit n go’s you play – The bigger the field, the more variance and dry spells you should be prepared for. So you’ll want a bigger bankroll for 180-man sit n go’s compared to 18 or 45-mans.
  • The stakes you play – The larger the stakes you play the bigger the bankroll you’ll want to have. For one thing, larger stakes means larger swings. And usually higher stakes games means more regulars (good players), so your edge will be lower, thus your ROI / earnings will be lower.
  • The variations you play – You’ll have more variance in turbos compared to non-turbos. Double or nothings yield smaller ROIs than non double or nothings. Etc.

Get it? This is why giving any sort of bankroll guidelines is difficult (and pointless). There are just so many pieces that you need to put together to have any sort of clue as to how much money you need to play on.

But that doesn’t mean it has to be complicated.

Your Sit n Go Bankroll — A Starting Point

PPI Rakeback at PokerSitNGos.comI realize that you probably didn’t come to this page to be told that coming up with bankroll guidelines is pointless, and that there are a lot of variables to it. I imagine you’re here for an answer, some advice on how much money you need. So let’s see if I can help.

As a rule of thumb, most winning players aren’t going to see swings in excess of 30 buy-ins or so. I like being risk averse with my bankroll, so I would add 20 buy-ins to that. So my recommendation to you is to have 50-buyins minimum for any sit n go you wish to play. That means $150 for the $3 games, $300 for the $6s, $1,000 for the $20s, etc.

From here, it’s just a matter of adjusting your bankroll to fit the points I made above. If you suck at sit n go’s, add some buy-ins. If you’re going to play pro, add some buy-ins. Like to live life on the edge? Remove some buy-ins then. It’s all up to you.

When to Move Up in Stakes

Another common question from players is when should they move up in stakes? The easiest answer is this:

When you have 50 buy-ins for the next level up.

So, if you start off at the $6s with $300, and the next level up are the $15s, then you’ll want to build your bankroll up to a minimum of $750.

That’s the simple answer.

The difficult answer is that moving up in stakes has just as much to do with your skill set, sample size and goals, as it does the amount of money you have in your bankroll currently.

You can have a 200x the buy-in for the next level, but if you’ve only played 500 games of your current stakes and you’re fairly new, you might want to give it more time to let the variance average out. You’ll lose a lot of time, confidence and money by moving up based on the size of your bankroll alone. But that’s really for another article.

When to Move Down Regarding Your Sit and Go Bankroll Strategy

As much as I’d like to say that another common question from players is when to move down in stakes, I can’t, because players don’t ask that question.

The same idea applies though. As a rule of thumb I would move down in stakes when you have roughly 50 buy-ins for the stake below you.

For example, if you started off at the $6s with $300, I would drop down to the $3s when I hit $150 — 50 buy-ins for the $3s. You can also look at this as 25 buy-ins for your current level. Whichever way works best for you.

Again, moving down doesn’t always come down to the size of your bankroll though. For most players it might, because no one likes to move down in stakes, and even fewer are actually disciplined enough to do it.

But you might also move down in stakes just to rebuild your confidence. Taking a beating, even if it’s due to variance, can be extremely tough mentally for a player. You might also drop down in stakes to keep your bankroll afloat at the 50 buy-in level for your current stakes if you’re taking a shot, or your current games aren’t loading.

There are lots of reasons why you might drop down in stakes. It doesn’t quite matter what or why, so long as you do it when your bankroll needs you to the most.