If you are a professional player paying the rent from a $100k bankroll, losing everything is a life-changing disaster. If you are a semi-serious player who got a free $50, losing that $50 is an inconvenience, not a disaster. In fact, your balance is usually not the same thing as your bankroll. Your bankroll means all of the money you can lose playing poker, so if you would redeposit in case you lose everything, then your bankroll is larger. Many microstakes players have bankrolls much larger than their balances.

A useful general bankroll rule is

**Bankroll = Comfort x Standard Deviation^2 / Win rate.**

*Comfort *depends on your personal risk tolerance and ability/willingness to move down if you hit a bad streak. A comfort level of 2 is considered aggressive. A comfort level of 4 is generally considered conservative.

*Standard deviation* depends a bit on the game conditions and your playing style, but not so much for limit as for NL. In 6-max LHE games, you can assume your standard deviation is 17 big bets/100. In full ring LHE games, you can assume your standard deviation is 15 big bets/100.

Your *win rate* depends on your skill. With a greater win rate, you don't need as large of a bankroll to be as safe, but with a marginal win rate you may need a lot more. As you move up to tougher games, you should expect your win rate to decrease, so that you need a larger bankroll in big bets.

So, if you use a comfort level of 3, and your standard deviation is 17 BB/100 with a win rate of 2 BB/100, then this formula recommends that you have a bankroll of 3 x 17^2 / 2 = 433.5 big bets.

If your bankroll drops below the recommended amount, this doesn't mean you have to stop playing. However, if your bankroll is less than half of this amount, you should view playing as an expense, not a profitable situation.

If you are not a winning player, you need a budget, not a bankroll. If you are not sure what your win rate is, then you can calculate what would make you safe with various win rates, but revise your estimate of your win rate as you get more experience. Often, it is good to budget an amount like 100 BB for a level you are not sure you can beat, and plan to drop down if it doesn't work out or you feel uncomfortable.