McHaffie: MCU lesson 134 / Replenish your bankroll

Note: Not at the old Poker1 site. A version of this entry was first published in Poker Player newspaper in 2008.

This is part of a series by Diane McHaffie. She wasn’t a poker player when she began writing this series. These entries chronicle the lessons given to her personally by Mike Caro. Included in her remarkable  poker-learning odyssey are additional comments, tips, and observations from Mike Caro.

Diane McHaffie index.

Diane McHaffie is Director of Operations at Mike Caro University of Poker, Gaming, and Life Strategy. She has traveled the world coordinating events and seminars in the interest of honest poker. You can write her online at

Diane McHaffie

Lessons from MCU

— With bonus content by Mike Caro (pending) —

Lesson 134: How to replenish your bankroll

Bankrolls ebb and flow like the tide. Some players are cautiously, slowly building their bankrolls. Others take the plunge and play daringly, impatient to build their bankrolls quickly. Maybe those players can afford to play precariously. Perhaps they have a good source of money to rely on should their bankroll suffer a tragedy. Most aren’t that fortunate.

Is maintaining a bankroll necessary for you? If you have a ready supply of money and you can play any limit that you choose, then rebuilding a bankroll is of little concern. You can play daringly at limits beyond what is comfortable for most players.


But, most of us need to monitor our finances. Our bankrolls are the instruments of our businesses and must be handled shrewdly. Mike teaches that larger bankrolls are to be guarded, because it’s difficult and time consuming to build it. And once you’ve built it, you need to defend it.

There are players who feel that once they have accumulated an awesome bankroll they are able to monetarily participate in larger games. They see it as an opportunity to take risks they can finally afford. They’re playing with the big boys now! They’re strutting like proud peacocks, smiling broadly and flashing their rolls of cash.

At a loss

Ah, but when they run bad and find themselves with a suddenly depleted bankroll, they wonder what to do. What happened? They failed to protect that impressive bankroll and it’s already damaged, Mike says that in most cases they should play at smaller limits, taking less risk in an attempt to rejuvenate their bankroll. Sometimes, if that bankroll has shrunk below where it is worthy of protection, they should just go for it and hope for the best. They’ve failed to protect their previously hard-earned bankroll and, essentially, they’re starting over.

It’s damaging to their egos to admit they’ve succumbed to the temptation of dangerously risking their hard-won bankrolls. Their pride has been wounded. They find it degrading to return to the smaller levels. That is why many skilled and professional players go broke, refusing to concede that there are times they need to play smaller limit games to rebuild their bankrolls.


It’s wisest to play a limit that is befitting your bankroll. Are you truly comfortable sitting in a game you know is beyond your bankroll means? Isn’t your heart beating so loud that you’re fearful the opponent next to you can hear it? Is the game actually going to be enjoyable to you or are you just playing for the rush? Are you going to be up to the added stress of bigger limits?

Mike advocates treating your bankroll as you would your boat or your flat-screen TV, cherished! If you have an impressive bankroll it is to be prized and protected. Didn’t it take you quite some time to acquire it? If you part with most of it, how long is it going to take to replenish it?

Five times

A smaller bankroll is easier to rebuild, so you can take bigger risks. Mike advises that you “make sure you have more minimum buy-ins in reserve with a large bankroll than with a small one.” Even if you have five times the money you had, Mike says, it doesn’t mean that you should play five times as big.

When attempting to enlarge your bankroll or rebuild after a devastating loss, you need to avoid the temptation to play too many borderline hands or to take needless chances. You need to be more conservative. It is necessary to play the better hands, not the questionable ones.

To summarize, an impressive bankroll needs to be treasured, so don’t take unnecessary risks. A smaller bankroll takes less time to replenish so you can be adventurous. But even with a small bankroll that you can’t easily replace, you need to take fewer risks. — DM

Next entry in Lessons from MCU series


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