Preparing For Success: Your SNG Bankroll

Learn how to manage a SNG bankroll and you're halfway to becoming a successful player

Sit & Go (SNG) tournaments are a great introduction to tournament poker. They give you final table experience from the first hands dealt. You need to manage your SNG bankroll carefully if you want to be successful and we all want success.

Determining the size of your SNG bankroll comes down to a couple of major factors. Your Return on Investment (ROI) has a major bearing on how large your bankroll should be. This shows how much money you win, on average, per SNG played.

Your tolerance to going broke is something else to consider. Start with a larger SNG bankroll if you are more conservative or don’t want to drop down stakes. A smaller bankroll is adequate if you don’t mind moving down stakes or can easily replenish your bankroll.

Remember the golden rule of bankroll management before putting a figure on your bankroll’s size. Your bankroll is made up of money you can afford to lose. You should be able to lose your entire bankroll and it not have an effect on your everyday life.

How Many Buy-ins Should My SNG Bankroll Be?

Your SNG bankroll is measured in buy-ins. An SNG buy-in is the total cost of entering the tournament, including the fee the online poker site takes. Playing in a $10+$1 SNG cots you $11 in total so one buy-in for this level is $11.

A bankroll of 100 buy-ins is recommended for more conservative players or those not wanting to move down stakes. Professional poker players don’t like dropping down stakes because there earning potential is less. This isn’t always the case, but we’ll cover that shortly.

This means to play $11 SNG a bankroll roll of $1,100 is required. You can move up to the next stakes when you have 100 buy-ins for that level. I suggest moving down stakes if your bankroll drops to 50 buy-ins for the current stakes.

Keen recreational players can make do with a 50 buy-in SNG bankroll. Be prepared to move down stakes if you hit a bad patch. You’ll often find you yo-yo between stakes when using a smaller SNG bankroll.

Those of you reading this who play purely for fun can disregard SNG bankroll management. Only play with money you can afford to lose, however.

Your ROI has an effect on how large or small your bankroll is. Players with higher ROIs win more than those with lower ROIs so they can afford to use a smaller bankroll. Players with a larger ROI experience less severe variance than those with a lower ROI.

When To Move Up Or Down Stakes

Following a proper SNG bankroll strategy helps you move up and down stakes at the correct time. It also keeps you in games where you are profitable.

Let’s pretend you’re a $10 SNG player using a 100 buy-in SNG bankroll. You have a $1,000 bankroll available. Only move up stakes when you have $2,000, which is 100 buy-ins for the $20 level. Move down if you lose 50 buy-ins and don’t return to the $10 level until you have $1,000 in front of you.

There are exceptions to this rule. For example, you may be sat with 70-75 buy-ins for the next level above and are running hot. Feel free to take a shot in a couple of higher stakes games if the conditions are right.

Don’t Move Up Just Because You Can

You shouldn’t always move up stakes permanently even if you have the SNG bankroll for it. Always play in games that make you the most money. Players enjoying a 20% ROI in $10 SNG earn $2 per game. This is practically impossible these days, but we’re simplifying this example.

Your ROI in $20 games needs to be at least 10% to earn the same per tournament as when you played $10 games. Higher stakes usually earn you more rewards for poker sites but these rewards can and do change.

PokerStars, for example, had an amazing loyalty program where you could earn more than 50% rakeback. SNG players played hundreds of thousands of tournaments each year and earned fortunes through rewards. Many lost money through playing (a negative ROI) but made a living through rakeback.

The site pulled these rewards a couple of years ago, leaving those players unable to turn a profit. They were forced to drop down several levels to become profitable again.

It is better to enjoy a 20% ROI at the $10 level than a 7% ROI at $20 stakes. Playing higher stakes comes with more kudos, but I’d rather have more profit to brag about.

Matthew Pitt

If it’s something you can play online for real money, chances are Matthew knows a bit about it. He’s been writing about slots, craps and poker for the better part of the last decade. He’s written for PokerNews, PartyPoker and many other respected online gambling websites during the last nine years.


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