Should you keep all your poker bankroll in one place?

Should you spread out your poker bankroll or keep it all where you play for easy access?

black friday
The infamous ‘Black Friday’ image

We had a post on our forums recently asking where the best place to keep a poker bankroll was. The member had started to take the game seriously, built up a roll, and was wondering if they were better off keeping their bankroll in an eWallet rather than all on one poker site. The member was a little nervous about keeping their bankroll all in any one place.

They were right to be nervous. There are a lot of very reputable places to play poker and eWallets to transfer money to and from, but when you have been around poker a long time you realise that it is safer to err on the side of caution with how you look after your money.

For those of you who have not been around poker a long time, almost exactly ten years ago we had a ‘black swan’ event. The US Department of Justice shut down PokerStars and Full Tilt on a day known as Black Friday. PokerStars got back up and running quickly but the event exposed major liquidity problems at Full Tilt which meant that thousands of poker players had their bankrolls stuck in limbo, in some cases for years.

We all learnt a harsh lesson that day on why it is not prudent to keep all your poker money in one place. Just as investors advise diversifying your portfolio to spread investment risk, poker players should diversify where they keep their bankroll to reduce the likelihood of a catastrophe.

Expect the unexpected

Berlin was the location of a famous poker robbery

Even reputable companies are not immune to issues. Banks, for example, have suffered cyber attacks meaning customers cannot access their funds. Poker rooms suffer DDoS attacks in much the same way. It can even be something as benign as a software update or you forgetting a password that can temporarily lock you away from your funds.

Keeping your poker money in paper cash might be a necessity as a live poker player but many a poker player has been robbed in their homes for this exact reason. There was also the infamous EPT Berlin armed robbery where the dangers of carrying cash was thrown into the spotlight.

So the simple message is, spread your money around. If you mostly play on two sites, perhaps keep ¼ on site one, another ¼ on site two, the next ¼ in an eWallet and the final ¼ in the bank. Yes that is more of a hassle but if any single hiccup happens it only happens to ¼ of your roll. Likewise, it probably helps from a mental game perspective to give you a natural stop loss.

Liquidity is King

Polk would have been better off just keeping his Bitcoin (but don’t store your poker funds there)

In the UK our banks have government guarantees in case the banks themselves go bust, so for that reason it is probably wisest to keep most of a bankroll in an actual bank. The worst place you could probably keep it is in shares or in Bitcoin, basically anywhere where the value can go down. Of course it could go the other way, it’s a funny footnote to the Polk vs Negreanu challenges that Polk withdrew money from Bitcoin to play against Negreanu. If he had just kept it in that Bitcoin he would have been much richer than the $1.2 million he won from KidPoker.

As a poker player liquidity is the most important thing. You need easy access to your funds so you can use your money to play when good games are available. For this reason some poker players make the mistake of assuming that keeping it all on the same poker room is the best way to ensure liquidity.

That strategy works, until it doesn’t. Nothing destroys your liquidity quicker than keeping all your money in one place then something unexpected happens in that place.

Where do you keep your poker bankroll? Let us know in the comments:


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