If you keep your bankroll separate from your day-to-day income and expenses, then it is easy to see how much you are winning or losing over a given period of time. If your bankroll is $500 but a month later it is $300, then you will know that you have lost $200.
If you have no clearly defined bankroll, however, gauging the loss will be far more difficult. If that $200 loss was over a month, then it is unlikely you suffered a steady stream of losses over that period. It is more likely to have been a hotchpotch of winning and losing sessions, sometimes clumped together in upswings and downswings, sometimes alternating or in pairs. In fact, with no clear poker bankroll, it might be difficult to tell whether you have won or lost over the course of the month, let alone by how much.
Of course, you can also track your wins and losses by keeping good records. The problem is that some players simply aren't very good at recording their results on a consistent basis. Also, it is easy to forget to record a session or to "cheat" and say that a particular session doesn't count since you were tired or drinking or whatever other reason you can come up with. Even if you do keep good records, a separate bankroll is helpful in reconciling the two to ensure that your records are accurate.
Obviously, it is very difficult to make any objective assessment of your poker game when you don't know how much you are winning or losing. Worst of all, long-term losing players will tend to believe they are actually winning. This sounds like a strange assumption to make, but it really isn't. Most poker players suffer from delusion to some extent, tending to overestimate their ability relative to others. Because poker literature is resolute in its assertion that the best players will make money in the long term, most players think they should be winning money. In the absence of any hard figures, they will in fact assume that they are winning money. People are good at seeing things they want to see and ignoring things they don't. A hazy memory of a month of up-and-down results will tend to aggregate to a win for a disorganized player who is deluded about his skill.
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