While it’s common for professional poker players to exhaust their entire net-worth at times, they have a massive secret that helps them protect their assets.

The secret is having a poker bankroll.

The idea is simple: keep the money you use to play poker separate from the rest of your money.

Because there are ups and downs in poker (there will be more ups if you’re a skilled player, obviously), you need to be able to take some hits every now and then.

Therefore anyone really getting into poker should approach it with the idea of saving up enough cash to ride out the inevitable string of bad luck.

It happens to even the best players in the world, after all.

How Much is Enough?

So how much do you need for a proper poker bankroll?

That depends on a couple of things:

1. What stakes you’re going to play.
2. How much you like to gamble.

The basic formula is this: You should never risk more than 5% of your bankroll on one table.

So if you want to play $1/$2 No-Limit Hold’em in the casino then your standard buy-in (which is 100 big blinds) would be $200.

That means you’d want to start out with around $4,000.

Fortunately online poker sites offer stakes far, far lower if you’re looking to build your bankroll from scratch.

The lowest stakes on poker sites are generally 1c/2c. That means your average buy-in is a paltry $2.

For those stakes you only need a bankroll of $40. That will keep you playing for a long, long time.

In fact, if you’re a winning player, you’ll never go broke following these rules.

As for the second question, if you just enjoy gambling and/or poker for fun, just play with whatever amount you feel comfortable losing!

When Do I Move Up?

You probably won’t want to play penny poker forever, though -- especially if you’ve started to win on a regular basis.

Once you’ve accumulated enough of a bankroll so you’re not risking more than 5% at one table, then you’re ready to move up.

Using our online poker example, you can move up to 2 cent/5 cent (standard buy-in $5) once you have $100 in your online account.

If you lose enough to put you below $100, simply go back to 1c/2c.

What About Tournaments?

Use the same rules for tournaments. But since there’s more variance in tournaments you may want to lower your buy-in amount for one tournament to 2% of your overall bankroll.

Using those rules you should have at least $50 to play $1 buy-in tournaments.