MTT bankroll management is a skill just like understanding equity or pot odds. Once you have read through the general poker bankroll principles here, it’s time to move on to more specific strategies to help with sustaining and building a MTT bankroll. To give yourself the best chance of building a poker bankroll from Multi-table Tournaments (MTTs), these are some key points.

MTT Bankroll Management Guidelines.

  • Consider how your schedule will look and what site/s and games are going to be the best for you.
  • Don’t use more than 1% of your bankroll on a specific tournament, unless you are ‘shot taking’.
  • Be ready to move up and down in stakes according to your bankroll and skill level.
  • Maintain discipline and focus, don’t get stubborn or tilt. Remember poker is a life-long game!

Game Selection and ROI

Both the time of the day you play, and the type of games will have a big effect on your ROI (return on investment). ROI is generally what is used to determine your edge over the field. It’s based off of the amount of money you win or lose from tournaments.
For example, if after playing one hundred $11 tournaments you have won $1500, your ROI can be calculated using the following formula.


The formula used to calculate ROI in poker (return on investment). The most common way to measure a player’s ability.

Profit = $1100 – $1500 = $400
Investment = $1100
ROI = ($400 / $1100) x 100 = 36%

This is a fairly good ROI for an MTT player. However it’s important to keep in mind factors that influence sustaining a high ROI.

  • Have a knowledge/skill edge.
  • Play at times and at poker rooms when there are less regulars and more recreational players.
  • Game select and play games with deeper structures to maximize on the skill edge. Avoid playing too many turbos.
mtt bankroll management

With large fields and top heavy pay structures, MTTs aren’t a smooth ride

By playing between 11pm to 8am EST you can generally find softer games. Moreover by site selecting you can expect to increase the ratio of regular to recreational players even further. Thus increasing your overall edge over the field. Furthermore by playing tournaments like deep stack, rebuy, 1 rebuy and 1 add-on type tournaments where stacks are deeper, there’s extra play both preflop and post-flop, resulting in more decision making which suits players with a better understanding of the game. Turbo speed tournaments have fewer decisions (often just fold or move all-in) which limits the skill edge considerably. A player with a 30% regular tournament ROI could usually expect less than half this type of return from turbo tournaments. Hyper speed tournaments reduce the skill factor even further. One possible exception to this rule, and an important part of building a bankroll, is scanning for good value satellite tournaments.

A satellite is a smaller ‘feeder’ tournament to a larger buy-in tournament. Often players with smaller bankrolls, or those with aspirations of getting a big score, are taking a shot at winning there way into a bigger tournament. The regulars on the other hand have the bankroll to buy directly into the bigger event and thus often skip satellites. This often leads to super soft satellite games and when a seat into the bigger tournament is won, it can be exchanged for cash or tournament dollars. Alternatively from time to time, consider playing the event you have satellited into and taking a shot if it doesn’t represent a large potion of your bankroll.

great mtt graph

Long-term the roller-coaster ride of MTT play is harder to see

Shot taking can be a good way to climb the bankroll building ladder. For example a player with a $2100 bankroll, may decide to use 2.6% of it to play a big $55 event like the PokerStars Redspade tournament which often rewards 1st prize with over $100,000. However do keep in mind that field size also has an impact on variance. Playing against smaller fields results in a higher frequency of cashes. Playing in a tournament like the Redspade, could result in fewer scores but a whopper when you do run deep!

Variance and MTT Bankroll Management

Players serious about winning should be using tracking software for both study, and result tracking. Along with gaining an edge by understanding opponents tendencies, reviewing one’s own play is an important part of active learning. When it comes to reviewing results, it’s typical to find large swings and rarely will a player have a steady climbing graph from MTTs. Tournaments field a large number of players, and have top heavy pay structures which creates extremely high variance. Players may experience up or down swings regularly which don’t accurately reflect their ability. This is why along with maintaining a skill edge, it’s important to keep within the 1% of your bankroll rule, and to try to put in a lot of volume at the tables.


Having a good multi tabling poker set-up is important. MTT play often requires long hours spent at the tables. A dual screen display set-up, ergonomic chair and mouse, and PC glasses are some items that can really help to make play more pleasant and your play more efficient. A healthy life-style can also help players to maintain focus over long playing periods. When it comes to playing more tables, apart from having a good poker set-up there isn’t really a secret answer to it. It’s all about familiarization with situations. Through play and study a lot of situations become quickly solvable for experienced players. Poker knowledge and pattern recognition (such as which opponents to 3 bet, or which boards to c-bet on) become quickly solvable and decision making speed increases resulting in the ability to play more tables simultaneously. This is important for MTT players in order to overcome short-term variance and establish a truer ROI.


Getting distracted by movies and youtube etc over long periods of MTT play can really reduce ROI

Maintaining Focus

Playing across multiple sites, on multiple tables for hours on end can be draining. Moreover when skill and effort aren’t equally balanced with results, frustration or tilt can set-in. It’s important to stagger play with breaks and stay self aware of your condition in order to keep focused on the goal of building a poker bankroll. Maintaining an A-game has a big effect on ROI, every decision is important. Just like in Mario kart, there’s obstacles to get around to avoid losing bankroll building time. Don’t slip on a banana peel!

Banana peels (Common MTT Bankroll Management Mistakes)

  • Giving up after a bad session when only a couple of tournaments remain (not playing them as profitably as possible).
  • Loss chasing. This usually comes in the form of jumping into a turbo or hyper tournament with a bigger buy-in in order to try to get a big score and recoup any recent losses.
  • Getting distracted by things like movies, youtube, skype and anything that is going to cause you to give up some of your attention to detail on the poker tables.
  • ‘Winner winner chicken dinner syndrome’. mtt banana peelsWhen players, typically beginners, go on an upswing early in their poker career they often expect to be able to maintain unrealistic results, and attribute losing to bad luck when in fact their results are high above the ROI they can expect and they may lack the skills to beat the level they’re playing. Only after around 10,000 MTTs can we then start to get a feel for a player’s likely ability.

For MTT Success – Bankroll Management Isn’t All You Need To Know

Get a good poker set-up and put in the hours learning the game, both passive and active learning. Play on multiple sites to take advantage of the best tournaments . Map out a good schedule (satellites, deep structure tournaments, smaller field sizes, soft times and soft sites), and get grinding! Put in the volume and stay within the 1% rule except when shot taking and you’re sure to find MTTs are a great way to build a poker bankroll.

Make sure you check out PokerNerve’s Road To Success Course to help you take your MTT game to the next level.