Bankroll management in large poker tournaments


  • Björn Lantz Department of Technology Management and Economics, Chalmers University of Technology



Bankroll management, gambling, poker tournaments, Kelly criterion, poker strategy, game theory


This study focuses on bankroll management, defined as the process of determining the right fraction of the bankroll one should put at risk in a particular advantageous situation, examined in a poker tournament context. The aim of the study is to conduct a theoretical analysis of bankroll management based on the Kelly criterion in a typical large poker tournament, using the actual World Series of Poker Main Event payout table as an example of such tournaments. A main conclusion of this paper is that a long-term profitable poker player’s expected return on investment in tournaments (i.e., the level of advantage) does not provide sufficient information to obtain an optimal bankroll management policy for the player. The level of advantage is obviously an important factor, but the player’s strategic approach to the game, that is, if the player primarily tries to avoid finishing the tournament without a payout or if the player primarily tries to finish in the very top of the ranking, is also very important to consider.

Author Biography

Björn Lantz, Department of Technology Management and Economics, Chalmers University of Technology

Björn Lantz, PhD, is an Associate Professor of Engineering Economic Analysis at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden.


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