Physical bankroll management

  • By Doug Hull
  • May 8, 2014
  • Comments Off on Physical bankroll management

volume7The truth is winning poker players end up with a high quality problem: lots of cash on hand.  This can cause a security concern. Just google:

  • “Poker money cab”

  • “Poker game robbed”

  • “TSA confinscated cash”

  • “Poker player’s home robbed”

This kind of thing can happen even to winning low-stakes players. I have had a friend that got robbed and stabbed at his own $2-$5 home game.  In another situation, I have had a friend win some money at a 10K tourney and make the newspapers.  The cabbie knew his name from the reservation and acted very suspiciously- stopping in a bad part of town for no reason.  This was very frightening.  I feel very comfortable walking inside a casino with any amount of money, but what about the parking lot.  What about after the guy in seat three made threatening remarks as I left?

There are some simple things that can be done to minimize your exposure to these threats.

Carrying cash:

Even if you get the money from an ATM at your destination, you will still end up carrying cash at some point. I have three main methods of carrying cash.  My satchel poker bag (always carried across my body) never leaves my person and the session bankroll is in a nice wallet on a chain connected to the bag.  I will not accidentally leave it at the cage, and it would not be easy to steal.

What about stealthier techniques?


Thunderwear is a kind of money belt that is slung low across the hips and fits right over the groin under your pants.  I was carrying 10K to the World Series in Vegas.  I was chosen for a “Freedom Patdown” by TSA.  There is nothing illegal about carrying large amounts of money inside the US, but I would rather not be questioned about the money by anyone.  The TSA agent patted me down and found my ankle wallet.  He snidely said, “You can’t get anything past us” as he put the hidden wallet through the x-ray machine.  I smiled sheepishly and agreed. He was completely oblivious to the larger amount of cash that he missed in his patdown.  Your average mugger would never notice this.  You will never accidentally leave the cash in a cab this way either.

Ankle wallet:

An ankle wallet velcros around your ankle and is covered by your pant leg.  This is another easy way of carrying cash in an unexpected place that is unlikely to be found under most scenarios.  There are many vendors and styles, I do not have a particular recommendation.

Dummy wallet:

I have an old wallet stuffed with expired credit cards, and a decent amount of singles so it looks full.  If I am getting mugged, this wallet is the one I would let them steal.  It is also useful for storing all those player loyalty cards.


Storing cash:

Now when you are out and about, you have a way to carry the cash stealthily.  What about back in the hotel room or your home?  Do you trust the safes in the hotel rooms?  I do not.  Google “hotel safe default code” to see why.  All you are doing is putting your valuables into one easy to find place.

Home safe:

I think everyone should have a home safe.  You can buy decent ones at your local home improvement store for about $160.  These are fire resistant and water resistant.  You should never put them on an upstairs floor because they pose a falling hazard in a fire.  They can be bolted or cemented down in a basement very easily.  If you can not bolt them down, then make them heavy.  An easy way to do this is go to the bank and buy boxes of pennies or nickles.  Load up the safe with this cheap, heavy metal and it will make your safe very difficult to move.

A friend of mine had a small home lock box, but it was not bolted down and it was not heavy.  His home was broken into; his large safe was untouched, but the small lock box was simply carried away to be opened at leisure later.

Travel safe:

Safes are meant to be heavy so moving them is not an option.  When traveling, this is not practical. There are travel safes that can be cable locked to some immobile item.   Since they are cabled down, it would at least require tools to remove.  This will keep the casual thieves at bay.

Maybe you carry your laptop and are afraid someone will access it an install trojans so they can see your hole cards.  It has happened before at large poker events.  Google “poker laptop stolen hotel”.  You might find a big enough safe and small enough laptop so this is not an issue.  If you have a larger laptop, an alternative is to just lock up the battery and power cord.


“ I get threatened with, “be safe in the parking lot” at least once every couple of months.  If I don’t, I figure I am not playing aggressively enough. ”

I get threatened with, “be safe in the parking lot” at least once every couple of months.  If I don’t, I figure I am not playing aggressively enough. You see fights in poker rooms every now and then. The innocent victims of these fights are often trying to avoid the confrontation but can not.  I once had to give evidence to the state police after some poor guy was bum rushed at the table for no good reason by an aggressive drunk.  These things can and do happen.

Did you make a big score in a tournament and just want to safely get to your car?  Casino security will always be willing to walk you out to the parking lot.  This should not be overlooked as an option.  If going alone, situational awareness is very important for avoiding trouble before it happens.

If all else fails, pepper spray is a great tool and equalizer.  I recommend Cold Steel brand, it comes out as a gel, much like silly string.  As an example of it in use, my pit bull unexpectedly went aggressive on an unleahsed dog.  I was able to use the pepper spray to stop my dog, without harming the bystanders or other dog.  If this stuff can stop 55 pounds of angry pit bull in a few seconds, I am convinced of its efficacy.  Please check local and state laws about legally purchasing, possessing, using, and traveling with pepper spray.

Doug Hull

Doug Hull

Author of Poker Plays You Can Use, Red Chip Poker: Late Position. Doug is the founder of the poker strategy newspaper Freeroll.
Doug Hull
Doug Hull

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