How to Get Your First $1000 Dollar Bankroll in Poker

How to Get Your First $1000 Dollar Bankroll in Poker
For many people playing micro stakes online poker getting to their first $1000 bankroll is a major target and accomplishment.

In order to get a $1000 online poker bankroll you need to start from the lower stakes, use proper bankroll management, play a tight and aggressive style, table select and consistently move up the stakes. Getting a $1000 bankroll is a major milestone to shoot for as a beginner poker player.

And the reason why it is so important is because it allows you to start playing in the games where you can finally start making some significant money both at the tables and with rakeback as well.

What I really mean by this is stakes like 10c/25c blinds online (aka NL25) where the top players can very easily make $1000 a month playing poker or more.

So in this article I am going to provide you with your step by step game-plan to making your first 1k bankroll at the micro stakes online poker tables.

1. Start From the Lowest Stakes

For most people, I always suggest starting at the lowest stakes cash games online which is usually 1c/2c, also called NL2. The reason why is because these games are still very easy to beat and this means that you will start winning right away.

These are the kind of massive fish that you find at NL2:

I think one of the #1 reasons why many people fail to achieve their goals in poker is because they play in games that are too advanced for them, or that don't have fish in them. This means that they don't see real results for a long time, if ever.

This is debilitating and saps your will to play and learn more.

On the other hand, when you start winning right from the get-go in your online poker career (which playing at NL2 allows you to do), this will give you the confidence to keep playing more and learning more and ultimately moving up the stakes to the higher limits.

2. Start With a Proper Bankroll

So how much should you actually deposit to start playing in the NL2 games?

Well, I always suggest having at least 30 buyins for any game you are playing these days and so at NL2 this would mean a minimum starting bankroll of $60. But if you want to play it even safer (which I would suggest), then having 40 buyins or even 50 is better ($80 or $100 in this case).

What this does is prevent you from ever having to worry about routine downswings of 10 buyins for instance that will happen to you regularly along the way in poker.

One of the biggest hurdles that many newer poker players face is the first big run of bad cards (downswing). Downswings are already hard enough to handle without having to face the psychological challenge of losing half your bankroll.

So this is why I always suggest just starting off the right way in poker and ideally depositing $100 to start your poker journey in the NL2 games. $60 bare minimum though.

3. Tight and Aggressive is Still the Right Strategy

Now the next thing you are probably asking yourself is what strategy do I need to use to beat these games. Well, this is pretty simple as well: tight and aggressive, also known as TAG.

The simple TAG strategy for the micro stakes that I talk about all the time on this blog and in my books and videos could be broken down to a few basic principles:
  • Be selective about what hands you play preflop (top 15% in full ring, top 20% in 6max)
  • Pay special attention to your position at the poker table (play the majority of these hands on and around the button)
  • Make a continuation bet on the flop frequently and sometimes on the turn/river depending on the opponent and the situation
  • Value bet your good hands heavily
  • Don't run big bluffs
  • Control your emotions (don't tilt)

Now obviously this is a very simplistic breakdown. 

If you want a deeper understanding of exactly what hands to play preflop and what hands to bet on the flop, turn and river for instance, then go pick up a copy of my free ebook, Massive Profit at the Micros. 

However, this really is it. This is all you need in order to have consistent success at NL2. The biggest problem that most people face is overcomplicating this process. 

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4. Table Selection is Key

Now there is another key to this process though which involves playing in the right games. You see, the simple TAG strategy that I just suggested above works the best in loose/passive games against bad regulars and recreational players. 

Now luckily these days at NL2 most games still play like this. But not all do. This is why it is important that you are always table selecting while you are playing. 

The first thing that I always suggest for this is simply finding the easiest poker rooms in the first place. These are the poker rooms which tend to have the most recreational players on them (fish). 

Secondly, you want to make sure that there is always at least one rec player at your table. How do you know who a rec player is though?

Here are the common signs:
  • VPIP of 40%+ and a single digit PFR (your HUD stats will tell you all this)
  • Limping a lot
  • Min-betting after the flop
  • Never folding, chasing every draw
  • Short stack, not refilling
  • Only playing on one table

These are just a few, there are many more.

Below is a typical example of a fish on your HUD at the micro stakes. Note the 40%+ VPIP and the single digit PFR.

How to get your first 1k poker bankroll

If you don't know what a HUD is by the way, or you want to download and use my actual HUD above, check out this article of mine.

The bottom line is that it is absolutely vital that there is always one of these players at your table because they lose their money way faster than everybody else. Therefore, a large amount of your profits will ultimately come from them. 

Don't ignore this important point or you will not achieve the success that you truly want at the poker tables. If you choose to play in tough games against good players it is going to take you way longer to get your first $1000 bankroll.

By the way, in case you were curious, a HUD is just one of many poker software tools that I use to help me quickly identify the bad players even while multi-tabling online poker.

For the complete list of all poker software and tools that I use as a pro, click here.

5. Consistently Move up the Stakes

The next thing you need to do in your journey to a 1k bankroll is consistently move up the stakes. How do you know when it is time to move up though?

Well, this is pretty easy. You should move up when you have at least 30 buyins for the next limit. However, remember that more buyins is always better. 

So in this case the next stake after 1c/2c is usually 2c/5c, also called NL5. You should have a bare minimum of $150 in your bankroll before playing in this game.

Using good bankroll management like this is something that all good players know. For example Daniel Negreanu discusses this at length in his new poker training program. 

But furthermore you should only move up when you yourself are personally ready. Many people make the mistake of moving up too fast just because they have the bankroll for it.

Remember that getting to your first $1000 bankroll in poker and beyond is not a race. The games aren't going anywhere and it doesn't matter if you achieve this goal in two months or if it takes you a year or more. 

The point is simply that you do ultimately get there!

So you should take your time and only move up when you are feeling confident about your game. You should feel like you are clearly better than the competition at your current limit and your results also prove that (i.e. strong winrate).

You should also never move up if you are in a downswing (running bad, poor luck). And lastly, I always suggest moving up on a weekend when the games often tend to be a little bit better and of course you should table select heavily as well. 

By the way, I discuss this in much more detail in my new Elite Poker University training. 

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6. Don't Touch Your Bankroll

Now another key along your path to a 1k bankroll is not withdrawing money. And this one should be pretty obvious. This is because any money that you withdraw from your bankroll along the way will directly harm your progress. 

This is why I always suggest completely separating your poker money from your personal "real world" money. The amount that you deposit to play online poker should be seen as a capital investment or like purchasing a stock.

Getting your first 1k poker bankroll

You are investing this money now in order to produce long term sustainable returns in the future. If you need to constantly withdraw money for personal expenses out of your tiny bankroll, then you perhaps shouldn't even be playing poker yet in the first place. 

And I don't mean to sound harsh when I say that. I say it to be real with you. Your poker money has to be your poker money, that's it, period and end of story. 

Many, many years ago before I became a poker pro I made this mistake again and again. This is the #1 reason why I am known for having played absurd amounts of hands at the micros (millions and millions of hands). Because I never allowed my bankroll to properly grow!

Don't do what I did. 

If you want to achieve your first 1k bankroll and go on to make the really big money in this game, then you need to leave your bankroll alone until you are finally playing with the big boys (e.g. much, much higher limits than I am discussing in this article). 

7. The Long Winding Road to a 1k Bankroll

The last thing that I want you to know is that the road to your first 1k bankroll and beyond will not be an easy one. There will be many hills and valleys along the way. 

You should expect to go through downswings where you lose 1/3 or even as much as 1/2 of your bankroll along the way. This is often very tough to handle especially for newer players. There is no way to sugarcoat it.

But the real key is that you stay focused on your longterm goals in this game and getting to a 1k bankroll and beyond. 

Poker is a game with a huge short term luck element and you can't always control what is going to happen in one session or even a week of sessions. 

When the big downswing inevitably happens it is important that you:

1. Take a step back from the games for awhile and do some in depth session reviews

2. Drop down to a lower limit for awhile in order to regain your confidence and winning ways

Dropping down in stakes is probably the hardest thing to do for many people. It is a direct shot to the ego after all to have to return to a lower limit that you have already beaten. 

But you have to understand that it happens to the best players in the world all the time. Everybody goes through big downswings in this game at some point and they have to drop down to lick their wounds.

We only hear about the big tournament scores or the big cash game winnings though. We never hear about the months (and sometimes years) of struggling that a lot of the best players went through in order to achieve those results.

But this is also a part of the process. You can't have the good without the bad in this game. 

Know that there will be many ups and downs, but if you play solid poker, table select and control your emotions during the tough times, the results that you want will be there in the end. 


Reaching your first $1000 poker bankroll at the micro stakes is a major milestone that you should be focused on if you take this game seriously.

In fact, this is part of the reason that wrote the best selling book and video series Crushing the Microstakes. I wanted to give people a step by step guide to making this a reality. 

Because once you have a $1000 bankroll, you will have 40 buyins for NL25 where the best players can pretty easily make $1000 a month especially once you add in the rakeback.

And of course the potential amounts that you can make only go up considerably from there as you move up to higher stakes.

It won't be easy though and that is why is it is important that you start at the lowest limits with a solid game-plan to succeed. 

You should stick to the tried and true simple tight and aggressive strategy. You should also move up once you have at least 30 buyins for the next stake and you are confident in your play.

You also want to make sure that you are focused on table selection which translates to always having at least one fish at your table. It is also vitally important that you do not withdraw from your bankroll and simply allow it to grow naturally.

Lastly, if you want to learn how to start consistently making $1000 per month in low stakes poker games, make sure you grab a copy of my free poker cheat sheet.

Let me know in the comments below how you got your first $1000 poker bankroll. 

$1000 bankroll poker


  1. ****then you perhaps shouldn't even be playing poker yet in the first place.

    Then where will I get the money lol? If it's my basic income atm. ;) I guess there can be a a compromise - withdraw some, and let it grow as well. Then you need to play a lot too!

    1. Most people who visit this website and read my articles are from places like the U.S., U.K, Canada, Germany etc. where you CANNOT play for a living at stakes like NL2, NL5 or NL10. My goal is also to get them past these limits. So that is why I recommend not withdrawing.

      I understand though that in many other parts of the world you CAN play for a living at these stakes (or at least a significant portion of your income). And so if this is the case in your situation, then regularly withdrawing is totally fine :)

    2. Loving in a country where 1000 usd is a decent salary,by playing 100000 hands at 5bb/100 you will be able to survive and save some money as well.But you need a hell of a volume and hours.

    3. Jimmy Greece 90 hands per hour, 8 hours a day on 6 tables 26 days in the month is around 105 000 hands playing NL25 with a winrate of 5bb you will make around 1200 $. That kind of income for a country like Greece or North(xD)Macedonia is more than enough for comfortable living.

      With more experience you can increase the number of tables to 12 which in my opinion is the maximum number of tables a person can play and still play on a solid or optimal level.

      If you reach a level when you can play 12 tables than i suggest you quit your day job and start playing poker full time !

  2. Pretty solid advice that I used mostly myself when I was building up from nothing. One issue I have with it though is that you tell people to play on soft sites (which I agree) and then link to your affiliate links, and neither of the US sites even allow HUD usage, which I find odd given your insistence on using tracking software (which I also agree).

    1. You are absolutely right. All of the vagaries the author gives leave a lot to be desired. Where exactly are people supposed to play if they don't have access to all the sites that the author does? Additionally, how does one 'table select' when the sites are only running a couple of tables at a time even at the microstakes? Finally, the author states that it's important to play TAG yet he never reveals his own statistics and instead always obscures them. I'm willing to be he's not a TAG himself. Finally

    2. *I believe he himself uses an exploitative style of play. It's not strictly TAG style all the time from him then 0but he takes profits from taking advantage of weak players.

    3. Hey Absolut,

      I determine the best sites to play on based on game quality alone (number of fish). Every other factor such as HUD use is a distant consideration for me. Even though I talk a lot about HUDs and recommend them I play on many poker sites that do not allow them solely for the good games.

    4. Hey Chris,

      Most people who visit this website and read my articles/books have access to all of the exact same poker sites that I do. There are only a few places in the world that restrict where their citizens can play online.

      I have talked about my own personal HUD stats on countless occasions. There are actual screenshots of them included with my first book, Crushing the Microstakes. I also wrote a blog article just a few months ago talking about the best HUD stats (mine are very close to them):

  3. Nathan, if my math is correct I need 40,000 hands to increase my bankroll by 20 buy-ins if I am a 5bb/100 winner. Does this happen in 99% of the cases or does variance have a major impact on these projections?

    1. Your math looks correct to me. If your stats say that you are a 5bb/100 winner after 40,000 hands, then you will have profited 2000 big blinds (20 buyins). The path to get there will likely be anything but smooth, but that is just how poker works.

  4. Howzit Nathan.
    Thanks for the great posts. What are your thoughts on taking shots at higher buyins? For example...If playing 2NL and my bankroll gets up to $100, taking a shot at 5NL with 4 buyins.


    1. Thanks glad you enjoy! I don't really suggest taking shots for newer poker players. 30 buyins minimum before moving up is my suggestion.

  5. Hi Nathan, Top quality as always. Looking for a coach recommendation, sent you an email if the one listed on this site is still correct? Hope you can assist in your own time, cheers.

    1. Hey J,

      Thanks glad my posts help! I receive a lot of email so I can't always answer as soon as I would like to. I will reply soon though with some recommendations for you.

  6. what if the fish has 50/15 or 60/20 ?.... stats like that ... where the min raise a lot PF or normal raise and then Postflop they are passive ... min bet or c/c ... they only look like maniacs but they are not .... I don't get this type of players and I meet a lot of them nowadays .... more than the typical passive fish you described in the article