How Your Playing Style affects your Bankroll Estimates

If you look around the Internet or in any poker strategy book, you’ll find plenty of generic information about managing a poker bankroll.  And most of this info is very useful in regards to helping you avoid permanently busting out of poker.  However, one thing that most bankroll articles fail to address is how a person’s playing style can affect their bankroll estimates.

After all poker is a game full of variance, and this variance swings even more for those who have certain playing styles.  That being said, it’s certainly worth looking at how different playing styles can affect bankroll estimates in addition to how much money a player should have at the stakes they play.

Bankroll Estimations for the Average Player

Most poker strategy suggests that a cash game player have enough money in their bankroll to cover 500 times the big blind at the limit they play.  Sure there are some players who get away with only having 200 or 300 big blinds, but 500 is a safe bankroll estimate.  So if you had $1,000 in your bankroll, playing the $1/$2 stakes would be your maximum limit.

For tournament players, a safe estimate is that you’ll need enough money to cover at least 100 buy-ins at the limit you wish to play.  So if you play $20 + $2 sit and go’s, you should have $2,200 in your bankroll.

This of course is just a generic estimation of how much money you’ll need to comfortably play at certain stakes, and it doesn’t include any specific information such as your playing style.  With this being the case, let’s look at how a person’s playing style can affect their bankroll considerations.


Loose-aggressive is the style that’s employed by most of the world’s top players.  Being loose-aggressive involves frequently raising in an effort to steal small pots and blinds.  Using this style of play is an excellent way to win chips that you would otherwise have no chance at, but it’s also extremely risky.

In fact, loose-aggressive players see their bankroll fluctuate more than any other type of poker players.  The main reason why this holds true is because you are taking more chances by frequently raising; sometimes being aggressive will pay off big while other times it will cause huge downswings in your bankroll.

Because of this, you’ll want to increase your bankroll estimates to 700 big blinds so you can survive the big downswings.  So if you play $3/$6 No-Limit Hold’em, have $4,200 saved up in your bankroll.


This is another playing style used by many professional players.  As the “tight” part suggests, you’ll play few hands with the tight-aggressive style; when you do get involved in hands though, you will play them very aggressively.  This means raising pre-flop rather than calling, and raising more after the flop.

Much like being loose-aggressive, playing tight-aggressive is also a risky style because the pots you do play get pretty big.  However, you don’t have to worry about getting re-raised when trying to steal small pots and blinds like loose-aggressive players.  For this reason, using 500 big blinds as your safe bankroll number is fine.


You’re generally not considered a very good player if you are loose-passive, though some people have made it work.  Loose-passive players like to limp into a lot of hands in hopes of hitting their drawing hand; they also like to see cards and will call lots of raises.  On the other hand, the loose-passive player rarely takes control of pots by making the initial raise.

The main advantage to being loose-passive is that you avoid getting involved in huge hands.  That being the case, you will avoid huge swings in your bankroll and can safely start with 400 big blinds at your target limit.


Much like loose-passive, most good players don’t adopt a tight-passive style of play either.  However, tight-passive is a good playing style for beginning players or those who are trying to feel out a new limit.  Tight-passive players like to stick to premium hands and only venture away from these hands when they are in late position.  Players in this category also rarely raise unless they have the nuts.

Tight-passive is the safest playing style to have, and you can start playing at the  desired stakes when you have 250 big blinds.  Beware though that you’ll be stuck at the same limit for a while if you’re tight-passive.

Plan Accordingly

As can be seen, your playing style is a big consideration in how large your bankroll should be for a desired cash game limit.  By factoring in your playing style, you get a more accurate read on how much cash you’ll need to survive and eventually move up to a higher limit.

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