When to Cash Out in Poker (5 Step Strategy Guide)

When to cash out in poker - poker cash out strategy
Knowing when to cash out in poker is almost as important as having the right bankroll. Much like you can't out-train a bad diet, you can't out-play a bad poker cash out strategy.

The best poker cash out strategy is to withdraw your profit each month and always keep your bankroll intact. You should cash out any poker bonuses or rakeback that you earned as well. A good poker cash out strategy can allow you to make consistent withdrawals and still move up the stakes to profit more and more.

But this is a fairly simplistic answer.

So I am going to break it down for you step by step below with all of the numbers that you need to know. This 5-step poker cash out strategy guide will guide you through the entire process.

1. Define What Type of Poker Player You Are

To find the best poker cash out strategy the first thing you need to do is define who you aspire to be in this game. Are you a professional poker player? Do you play as semi-pro? Or do you play completely for fun?

Your poker cash out strategy is going to be wildly different depending on which one of these you are.

A professional poker player will make regular cash outs to pay for his expenses. A semi-pro will cash out once in awhile to supplement his income. And a recreational player will only make cash outs to fund some luxury purchase.

poker cash out rules

But there is one cardinal rule that I always advise no matter what type of poker player you are. And that is to never make a cash out because you need the money.

This is a major no-no in poker. And the reason why is because this is what your day job is for. Or if you are a professional poker player, then it is your savings.

That is the money you should be relying on to pay for your bills, expenses, purchases and so on. You should never dip into your actual poker bankroll because you need to pay for something in your day to day life.

Note: I am referring to your poker "bankroll" here, not your poker profit. You absolutely will be cashing out your profit and I will explain that in detail below.

2. Define Your Poker Goals

The next thing you need to do is define what your goals are in poker. Do you have dreams of climbing up the stakes and challenging the best in the world at the nosebleeds with millions of dollars on the line?

Are you happy making it to mid stakes and grinding out a less impressive but still sizeable amount of money on the side or as a pro?

Or do you just play this game mostly for fun and mess around at the micros hoping to make around $1000 a month or so?

The answer is different for everybody here.

However, if you want to aggressively move up and get to the highest stakes in this game then the cash out strategy is very simple - Don't cash out.

And this is because every time you make a cash out you are just moving yourself further away from having the bankroll for the next limit.

This is a huge mistake that many people make that ends up harming their progress for years and years and they don't even realize it.

Like most things in life, you can't really have it both ways. If you want to make a lot of cash outs then you are going to hold yourself back in this game. However, there are some workarounds to this which I will discuss more below.

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3. Do Not Cash Out While You Play the Micros

I need to mention one more caveat here before I get to the actual cash out strategy below though.

And that is if you currently play at the micro stakes (NL2 through NL50 or $1/$2 to $2/$5 live) then I would highly suggest that you do not cash out at all.

And it doesn't matter what type of poker player you are or what your goals are. The reason why is because cashing out regularly while playing at stakes this low is truly bankroll suicide.

You just aren't going to be able to make enough at these limits to justify regular cash outs. And consistently removing such a large portion of your bankroll will massively harm your progress in this game.

Poker cash out rules micro stakes

Now I do understand that there are some people who make a living playing poker at the micros these days.

As I have discussed before, in places like where I live in Thailand the cost of living is much lower than in most western countries. This attracts many people to come here and grind the micros on a beach somewhere.

Even in cases like this though I would highly advise to cash out only the bare minimum that you need and focus more on bankroll building and moving up the stakes.

Because let me tell you from first hand experience, it isn't so glamorous to be grinding the micros for years and years on end.

Your goal in this game should be to move up past the micros and on to mid or high stakes if you intend to make a career out of this.

If you want to know more about how I created some of the highest winning in online poker history at these limits, check out my best selling book, Crushing the Microstakes.

4. Poker Cash Out Strategy at Mid and High Stakes

Mid stakes though (NL100 - NL1000 online, $5/$10 to $25/$50 live) is when you can finally start making some decent money in this game. I am talking thousands of dollars per month with regular play.

I personally became a poker pro many years ago when I reached NL100 online. This is the 50c/$1 game with a $100 buyin. I was consistently making around 3k - 5k most months playing in my spare time each night.

This was considerably more than I was making at my day job working in an office so it became pointless for me to keep that job anymore.

And now of course if you manage to make it to high stakes some day (NL2000+ online, $50/$100+ live), and consistently win, then you probably don't need cash out advice in the first place. You will need investment advice instead.

So supposing you make it to NL100 or higher, and depending on the poker site that you play on, you might be able to make hundreds or even thousands a month through rakeback.

I would definitely suggest cashing out ALL of the rakeback each month because that can almost be looked as the interest on your principal (your bankroll). Rakeback is essentially free money that you get just for playing the game.

But you can also cash out a certain percentage of your winnings as well and still progressively move up to higher stakes. Now the percentage of your winnings that you cash out is subjective and totally up to you.

online poker cash out strategy

However, I would suggest not going any higher than 50% of your profit at the poker tables though. So for instance, your poker profit for the month is $10000. You can cash out anywhere up to $5000 of this.

And of course what this means also is that if you have a losing month, then you do not make a cash out that month.

This will allow you to continue to grow your bankroll and progressively move up to higher stakes games while still paying your bills through your profit.

As a professional or semi-professional poker player you should also have a large amount of savings that you can use during losing months to cover your expenses as well.

The bottom line is to cash out from your rakeback and profit starting at mid stakes (NL100+). But leave some of the profit in your bankroll (~50%) in order to continue climbing up the stakes.

Disclaimer: If you are totally fine playing NL100 or NL200 forever and not moving up (some people are), then you can of course ignore this advice and just cash out 100% of your profit each month.

5. Cash Out Your Poker Winnings Once a Month

The last thing that I would recommend is only cashing out your poker profit once a month, at the same time, assuming you won in that month of course.

By only cashing out once a month you make it just like a regular job where you just go to work each day and you don't focus on the results (your paycheck).

Some months your paycheck might be really big, 10k+. Some months it might be nothing at all. It's all the same for you as a pro or a semi-pro though.

Because you will clearly understand by this point that this is simply the way that poker works.

Poker is a constant and never-ending series of ups and downs. The entire goal of the game is to simply have more ups than downs. This is how winning players think about poker.

Daniel Negreanu talks about this in his new poker training course.

You really can't depend on certain results in poker especially if you are playing something as high variance as large tournaments.

With cash games it is a little bit easier to predict what kind of winnings you will have each month, but even this can vary widely sometimes.

Poker Cash Out Rules

So let's summarize all of these poker cash out rules.

1. Cash out your poker profit, not your poker bankroll.

2. If you want to move up fast, do not cash out, or cash out only when absolutely necessary.

3. Do not cash out if you play micro stakes unless you are a poker pro.

4. Cash out all of your rakeback and 50% of your poker profit each month at mid and high stakes.

5. Only cash out once a month

If you follow all of these poker cash out rules I think you will give yourself the best chance of quickly moving up the stakes and then rewarding yourself once you finally reach higher stakes games.

Think of your poker cash out strategy in the beginning as a long term venture. Learn the fundamentals, smash the micro stakes games and focus on moving up.

Don't worry about the money for now.

This way, once you do finally start succeeding in bigger games you can start cashing out significant amounts of profit that will have a significant impact on your life.

Poker Tools and Poker Education

It was mentioned in the comments below that poker tools and poker educational resources might be an exception to the advice above.

And I agree with that.

PokerTracker in particular has helped me tremendously to improve my game over the years. I have also seen huge breakthroughs with poker books, poker courses and even hiring a poker coach.

Poker cash out strategy bankroll

Ideally of course you would want to use your poker winnings to pay for these. But if you have been struggling at the poker tables for a long time, and you aren't winning yet, then it makes no difference anyways.

You should do whatever you need to do to start turning a profit. And if that means dipping into your bankroll to invest in the tools and education that will get you there, then so be it.

For a complete listing of all the poker software tools and educational resources that I recommend these days click here.

Final Thoughts

Having a good poker cash out strategy is a crucial part of your success at the poker tables. It is just as important as having the correct bankroll to play with in the first place.

If you currently play at the micros (which is most people reading this), then I would recommend just not cashing out at all no matter what your goals are in this game. The purchase of poker tools or poker education being the lone exception to this rule.

And this is because it really harms your progress. Your goal at the micros should be to simply get a solid fundamental strategy and learn how to win consistently.

Think of the micros as kind of like your poker education. Once you "graduate" past these stakes to the higher limit poker games (NL100+), then you can finally start rewarding yourself with regular cash outs.

Only in months where you win though. If you don't have a winning month then you don't cash out. Also, you should never cash out more than 50% of your total profit if your goal is to continue moving up the stakes.

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

Let me know your thoughts below on when to cash out in poker. What kind of poker cash out strategy do you use?

Poker cash out strategy


  1. Wondering if you are a winning player at 200nl online? What do you think of adding 50 or 100 bucks to the roll a month and moving up that way? How many hands a month do you think is the minimum to improve enough to move up from 10nl to 100nl assuming you are a winning player at 10nl? While I have your ear I don't think Upswing is +ev for 50nl and below It just fills your head with complicated stuff. Tight is right and do a Google and You Tube search on "poker strategy" and that should keep you busy for 6 months no charge

    1. Hey Jim, there are going to be different answers for all of these questions for different people. There is no minimum amount of hands per month to move from NL10 to NL100 for instance. It might take one person 10k hands a month and 5 months. It might take somebody else 100k hands a month and 5 years. For most people, there is no amount of hands because they are not a winning player.

  2. What are your thoughts on using poker winnings to fund the acquisition and use of poker tools and education? Say my goal is to become a semi-pro at the mid-stakes. My secondary goal is to only fund my proper bankroll for micro stakes and never reload again. Is it wise to use poker winnings to purchase the good resources to help crush the game (buy books, video memberships, coaching sessions ) as opposed to getting these things out of pocket seperate from my bankroll?

    1. Hey imho yes its ok to do so, as long as you dont buy stuff that are not usefull to your game at the moment of purchase.Dont buy any super expensive gto software like monker solver or pokerjuice when you only play at microstakes.Or if you dont play mtts at certain stakes,why buy a super advanced and super expensive online coaching course from a high stakes pro?Its ok to buy a large and comfortable pc monitor though.

    2. If you can afford to get it out of pocket, then do so. Building your bankroll is crucial to your success.

    3. Hey Steven,

      Yes, this is an exception I should have mentioned above (maybe I will edit it in). Poker tools and education are meant to improve your results and lead to more profit. So using your poker winnings to invest in these is fine.

  3. Hi Nathan ! Just a thing , think about adding a search bar to your site, it's super useful for your visitors ! ;)

    1. Thanks for the suggestion kash. I should do that.

  4. The thing is - in many countries 300 dollars a month is solid money for a living. Not a wealthy living but normal - food, some clothes, etc. And people who play poker have to cash out even on nl2 if they have no other source of income.

  5. In such case your advice "do not cash out on micros" doesn't work. You just need to play a lot and partly cash out, partly increase BR. That's the way.

    1. Good points. The large majority of people who read my blog are from Western countries where $300 a month isn't enough to live on. So my advice to not cash out at the micros is mostly aimed at these people. This will allow them to move up faster to the stakes where they can make the kind of money that will actually be significant for them.

  6. russia is a good place to move on to play poker, because western world is so expensive

    5$ equivalent in rubla you do a lot