How to Build a Bankroll Quickly Playing Tournaments

One of the most common questions you see in poker forums today is how to build a bankroll, or how to build one quickly so that you can move up in stakes. Moving up in stakes is exciting because that’s where all the good players are, not to mention that’s where the real money is at.

However, moving up in stakes is easier said than done. Especially in tournaments. With tournaments you have to deal with variance, bad streaks, bad play and more. It’s more difficult to give a one-size-fits-all type of answer, just because it may not work or apply to that particular person.

But I thought I’d give it a shot anyway. Based on my experience I thought I’d answer the question, how do I build a bankroll quickly for tournaments. My answers are below. I recommend using as many of them as you have the time, money and patience for.

7 Tips for Building a Tournament Poker Bankroll Fast

The following are 7 tips for building a tournament bankroll fast. Some will be common sense, I know. My hope is that you find at least one tip that you can take away and use.

1. Play Smaller Fields

If you want to build a bankroll fast, than I recommend playing tournaments with smaller fields. There are a couple of reasons for this.

One, smaller field tournaments will finish faster, giving you the opportunity to play more games. On sheer volume alone you’re bound to cash more often, thus building your bankroll. You’re not going to go as long between cashes compared to tournaments with larger fields.

Two, the more players there are the more you have to fight through, and ultimately, get lucky against to run deep enough to cash, let alone final table or win. That means you’ll go farther between cashes, stressing what little bankroll you do have.

2. Play More Games (Get More Volume In)

Another simple solution. Variance is a life long roller coaster for poker players. And the fastest way to get through the downs so that you can enjoy the ups is to play more games. The more games you play, the faster you’ll get through the bad beats and losses.

To play more games, I recommend selecting games with shorter blind levels (like turbos) or smaller fields. You can also multi-table. There is software that will help you do this more efficiently, such as Holdem Manager (for tracking hands and player tendencies) and Table Ninja (auto hot key program).

3. Play Turbo Tournaments

I recommend playing turbo tournaments for bankroll building because they have faster blinds. So you can get more games in.

More than that, though, turbo MTTs focus primarily on pre flop play, so you don’t have to be all that good at post flop play to win. You just need to be able to steal the blinds, shove all in when you’re sort, isolate other short stackers and occasionally make a continuation bet.

4. Move Up (Faster Than You Should)

Another way to build your bankroll quickly is to move up faster than what’s recommended. It’s suggested that you move up when you have 30-50 buy-ins (minimum) for the next level. But what if you move up when you have 10 buy ins for the next level? All it takes is one decent score to quickly add some cash to your bankroll, even if it’s a couple of min-cashes.

That said, I want to stress that if you choose to move up sooner than you should you must also be willing to move down if you take your shot and fail. Remember – we’re trying to build a bankroll quickly, not quickly bust it.

5. Accept a Short Term Stake

One of the fastest ways to boost your bankroll is to ask someone for money. The benefit to this is that you’re not likely to play scared money, but instead play your A or B game. And if your skill level is high enough, you can start off at higher stakes, which means you’ll win more money faster, even in despite of giving a percentage of it to your backer.

6. Improve Your Skill Set

Obviously, if you’re not very good or are a breakeven poker player at best, improving your skills will lead to you building your bankroll faster. Even if it means min-cashing, that’s better than nothing if you use to not min-cash before. It could also mean learning more aggressive strategies to build your bankroll so you run deeper, maybe even make the occasional final table. Trust me, a little tweak to a specific situation like when antes come in to play, when you hit the money bubble or final table bubble, can have both a short and long term (positive) affect on your bankroll.

7. Play Multiple Tables

This goes along with getting more volume in. If you’re only playing one table at a time you’re going to have a hard time building your bankroll fast, unless you get lucky and score big early on. You got to remember that much of your success comes down to how fast you can get through the unlucky swings to make a deep run. The more games you play at once (and play them well), the faster you’ll get through them. I recommended tools above. In addition to those, I recommend starting off slow. Add one or two tables max at a time. When that gets easy to manage, and assuming your bankroll can handle it, then add one or two more.

Things That Will Be Damaging to Building Your Bankroll

There are lots of things you can do to build your bankroll quickly. But if you’re not careful, there are things you can do that will be counterproductive to your efforts. Those things include:

  • Cashing Out – You can’t build your bankroll if you’re pulling your money out at the same time. Keep in mind that if you pull money out, that’s money that you could’ve used to play higher levels or support you during a downswing.
  • Degenerate Gambling – The blackjack and craps tables have killed more than their fair share of poker bankrolls. I’ve known people to win a tournament or two, only to blow their winnings gambling. Don’t be one of those players.
  • High Variance Games – Although you can make good money playing hyper turbos  or heads up sngs / cash games, they’re not good for short term bankroll building. You can easily and quickly lose your ass playing these, especially if you’re a beginner and don’t have the skill set necessary to beat those games.

My advice is to avoid these 3 things at all costs. However, for the sake of building your bankroll as quickly as possible, at least wait until you have hit your bankroll goals and are playing the stakes you want to play.