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You have had an incredible year playing poker and have built up a bankroll of $5,000 that you plan to use playing at the World Series of Poker. Now you have some tough decisions to make. You have already decided that you want to use the $5,000 to try to win a bracelet, but what path do you take?

Do you try to stretch your money out over several WSOP events to give yourself multiple shots of winning a bracelet or do you put your money on one or two larger events in hopes of a higher prize pool? Are there other options for your bankroll?

Today we will look at different options for your WSOP bankroll and examine the pros and cons of each choice.

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Option 1: Split Your Bankroll Over Multiple Events

The first option, and one that many players will take, is splitting your bankroll over as many events as possible. Using our example of $5,000 above, it is possible to play in several events.

Let’s assume that you’re a poker player proficient in at least Hold’em and PL Omaha. Using a $5,000 bankroll and firing on one bullet in re-entry events, you could play the following events:

  • Event #2 – $565 Colossus II
  • Event #4 – $1,000 Top Up NL Hold’em
  • Event #12 – $565 PL Omaha
  • Event #17 – $1,000 NL Hold’em
  • Event #19 – $1,000 PL Omaha
  • Event #54 – $888 Crazy Eights NL

You can play six events for $5,000. Ok, it is actually $5,018 but you can probably come up with another $18. There are also other $1k NL Events you can play if the $1k PLO isn’t your speed The same is true if you would rather skip the $565 events and play one $1k instead. The point is that you have options.

By splitting your bankroll over multiple events, you are giving yourself plenty of chances of winning a bracelet. Even if you don’t win the bracelet, you still give yourself plenty of chances to pick up your first WSOP cash. Also, these smaller buy-in events have softer field than the larger events. They also will have larger fields, meaning that more players will receive a payday.

Adversely, the larger field size does also increase the variance in these events. You will take bad beats more often and there will be days that the crazies will beat you no matter how well you play. The skill level is a bit reduced in these events because they are structured to go through large fields in three days on average.

Finally, your smaller buy-in events will have a smaller first place prize compared to the larger buy-in events. While the ROI is still great, few of these events will be “life changing.”

Option 2 – Put Your Bankroll into One or Two Larger Events

For players who feel they are particularly skilled or those looking for the larger payday, playing in one or two larger buy-in events may be a better option. Here is a brief list of Hold’em and PLO events priced between $2,000 and $5,000:

  • Event #21 – $3,000 Six-Handed NL Hold’em
  • Event #23 – $2,000 NL Hold’em
  • Event #30 – $3,000 Six-Handed PL Omaha
  • Event #35 – $5,000 Six-Handed NL Hold’em
  • Event #38 – $5,000 Six-Handed Limit Hold’em
  • Event #42 – $3,000 NL Hold’em Shootout
  • Event #48 – $5,000 NL Hold’em w/ 30 Minute Levels
  • Event #52 – $3,000 NL Hold’em
  • Event #59 – $5,000 NL Hold’em
  • Event #64 – $3,000 PL Omaha Hi-Lo Split

At most, you will get two events out of a $5,000 bankroll. The good news is that you have plenty of options for that one big score. If you feel that you have the skill needed to play at a higher level, these events can give you a chance to win enough money to give you a legit poker bankroll.

Now, there are a couple caveats to playing these larger buy-in events. First, these fields are pro heavy and you really need to know what you are doing to have legitimate shot at winning the bracelet. Next, notice that four events are six-max events. If you are not an expert at six-max Hold’em, you don’t have a realistic shot.

The question is whether you want to use your entire bankroll for one or two shots at a bracelet. If you feel you have the skill and don’t mind losing your entire bankroll in one tournament, then good luck and we hope you win or at least make a profit.

Option 3 – Split Your Bankroll Between Tournaments and Satellites

A third option that can potentially give you a chance to play in even more events is to set aside part of  your bankroll to play satellites at the WSOP and use the other portion for direct buy-in.

For example, take $2,000 of your bankroll and use it to enter in satellites for WSOP events and use the other $3,000 for direct buy-in. Let’s assume you choose to play in events with a buy-in of $1,500 and under. You can earn a seat into a $1,000 event by winning a $125 satellite and you can earn your seat into a $1,500 event by winning a $175 satellite.

WSOP satellites are 10-handed and pay out lammers equivalent to a seat in a WSOP Event. There are times where the final two or three players will chop up the lammers but you will still make a profit after chopping.

The advantage to this option is obvious. If you happen to win some satellites, you will be able to play in more events or you can play in your desired events for a reduced cost. The downside is that if you aren’t winning or chopping satellites, you will only be able to play as many events as your remaining bankroll will allow.

If you are competent at playing single table satellites, this is a fantastic option. You can cut down on costs or win your way into extra events. There have been times I was able to walk away an overall winner from the WSOP or at certain WSOP-C stops thanks to winning my buy-ins via satellites.

Pick the Option that Works Best For Your Goals

We’ve discussed a few options about how to ration your bankroll at the WSOP. PokerUpdate presenters Robbie “Canary” Strazynski and Shimi “The Fish” Wiess recently held a similar debate and you can check out their thoughts below.


In the end, how you ration your bankroll will depend on your goals. Are you looking to build a bankroll or are you just going for the bracelet? Also, how long are you going to be in Vegas? If you are only going to be in town for a few day, you may not be able to ration your bankroll for several events.

Ultimately, you need to determine your goals for your WSOP run and then plan accordingly. Regardless of which you pick, remember to enjoy the experience. Regardless of how you finish, you are still living what many poker players will only dream about.

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James Guill

James Guill began his poker career in 2006, spending two years traveling the US tournament circuit. Since 2008, he has covered the game extensively for some of the biggest names in the industry. When not writing about the latest poker news, he can be found hunting for antique treasures in Central Virginia.