Poker success is best described in two words: skill and bankroll. Throughout the five years I've played, bankroll problems has been the reason for many of the players I've seen go bust. This predicament can be easily prevented by following basic bankroll rules for each poker variation.
For sit-and-go tournaments, you need a bankroll that can handle 10 to 20 buy-ins. A more experience player can get away with 10, but 20 is a safer amount for inexperienced players who don't want to go broke. Even if you're good, there are crazy swings that players should be prepared for at all times. Some days you could lose anywhere from 5 to 10 buy-ins in a row. If you've managed your bankroll correctly, though, you can still bounce back.
A solid bankroll is essential if you're going to play in multi-table tournaments because there is so much luck involved in them. Skill will get you far, but you must be lucky to win as well. This can mean that you could win the very first one you enter or you could lose the first 50 you enter. You must be a patient player to win these consistently.
For Limit cash games, I've heard your bankroll needs to be 500 times the big bet, but my suggestion is that it be at least 200 to 300 times the big bet.
For No-Limit cash games, you're also going to need a lot of money. It's best to have enough to cover more than 20 buy-ins, since the swings in these games can be ridiculous. I've had days where I've easily lost $5,000 playing great poker, and days where I've won $20,000 playing great poker.
Really, the best rule is that you can never have enough bankroll - period. The only way to avoid going broke when luck is against you and you just can't seem to get a good hand, is to have a solid bankroll.
But even with a good bankroll, one of the biggest mistakes amateurs make is playing too high for their limit. For example, if you have a $500 bankroll and you're playing in a game where your aces get cracked for $250, you've lost half your bankroll and probably a good deal of confidence.
A lot of players go on tilt because they've managed their bankroll poorly and they're panicking over what they have left. However, if you're playing with a $500 bankroll and get your pocket aces cracked over a $25 pot, you won't be nearly as upset over it and it won't affect your overall play.
With good bankroll management, you won't panic. You'll continue to play good poker and eventually the luck will even out and you'll come out on top again. That's why having a solid bankroll is so essential to becoming a successful poker player; it allows you to play more confidently and to live to play another day.
See you at the tables.