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Becoming a Professional Online Poker Player


What a dream it would be to make a living playing cards! A lot of people have tried to make their living solely off online poker, and most of them fail miserably. I have been playing online poker as a hobby since 2004, and while I would love to play full time, I know that in my situation, it is not possible. Am I not good enough to play professionally? Well, I am better than 90 percent of the people that play online, so there’s a good chance that I am good enough. How do I know I’m better than all these people? Because there are sites that track your results, and compare them against all other players playing on the same card room network. So if I am a decent player, why can’t I grind my way up the ranks and become a self proclaimed online card shark? Because it takes an incredible amount of time, money, and energy to be able to sustain a successful online poker career. Assuming that you are a profitable player, and you have already researched being self employed, here are a few points for you to consider as you explore becoming a digital card shark.

Grinding Out a Living On the Digital Felt

The main source of you income when you first start your venture, is going to come from your winnings.Your main concern when starting out, will be the dollar amount of your initial bankroll. This is going to be the money kept separate from everything else and used only for poker. If you do not use proper bankroll management, there is a very high chance of you going broke. I would recommend starting off with a very conservative 30-50 buy-ins at your best level of play. So if you play $1-$2 no limit, the buy-in is $200, so multiply that by 40-60 buy-ins, and you’ll end up with $6,000-$10,000. It is also helpful to know your hourly rate. This is measure in BB/hr (big bets per hour) for limit, or big blinds for pot limit or no limit. This is going to tell you how much you make per hour at a certain buy-in level. So in the previous example, if you are playing $1-$2 no limit, and you are averaging 5 BB/hour, you are making $10/hr. Please note that this statistic is only useful over a large sample size of about 10,000 hands, as you will experience a lot of fluctuation in the short term. These two elements are going to keep you from going broke as well as being able to gauge how much time you will need to reach your income goals. Take a second and do the math. Are you properly bankrolled to start your online poker career? Awesome! Now on to the next piece of business.

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The online poker room you pick is going to play a big role in your success. I would recommend doing a little research and finding out where the softest games are, as well as looking for the tournaments with the biggest payouts. When selecting an online poker room, it is also important to sign up for the site through a rake-back website.What is rake-back? The online card room takes a small percentage of every pot and tournament entry fee for being able to play there. This is known as rake and it adds up very fast. Finding a good rake-back site will allow you to join the poker rooms you researched,and get 20%-40% of the rake taken during play, paid back into your account every month. This is very important because you are going to be playing high volume poker, playing thousands of hands a day. Your rake-back will significantly boost your overall hourly rate.

Now that you’ve signed up for your poker rooms, you need to make a work schedule that will allow you to take advantage of the easiest games to beat. You will find that the evening and into the early hours of the morning, will be some of the best times to play. You will also want to schedule the best tournaments to play in, as well as giving yourself time to complete the tournament. For example it took me 4 hours and 43 minutes to take first place in a tournament with 490 entrants. This can vary widely depending on what time of tournament it is. Weekends are when all of the large guaranteed tournaments take place. If you are a tournament player, I would advise you to take some time off during the week, because from Friday to Monday morning you are going to log in most of your hours.

To make sure you are making the best use of your time you will need to keep track of your statistics somehow. I recommend making an excel spread sheet that keeps track of basic daily information that will allow you to track your overall progress, and make sure you are on track to meet your goals. There are also programs like Pokertracker, that keep very detailed statistics of every hand you play. You are going to need this information when you make your schedule, to figure out how many hours you need to play in order to make enough money to live off of. Keeping records is also necessary when it comes time for taxes, as you do not want to be an enemy of the IRS. Just remember to be honest with yourself, and that the numbers don’t lie. If you find yourself taking losses consistently you need to look at a different profession.

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Grinding out a living on the virtual felt is going to be a very demanding, stressful, and difficult task. Remember that you are always going to be a student of the game, and all that hard work will pay off once you win that first World Series bracelet. Until then, take advantage of every edge you can create for yourself. There are many resources such as books, videos, online forums, and online training sites, that will help you improve your game and increase your earnings.

Show off your success

What attracts so many people to the game of poker? Being able to justify that you are better than the person sitting across from you, on the basis that you just won all their money. If you are beginning to win more and more, and have statistical data to back up yourself up, don’t be scared to let other people know of your success. I am not implying you need to be an egotistical maniac. I am just saying that for all the hard work you put into improving your game, keeping all your records, and becoming a money making machine, realize that you are your biggest asset. Make a blog that tracks your progress, tweet about the latest tournament you took down, or post some hand advice on a poker forum. You want to do everything in your power to get people to know who you are. Why would you want to open yourself up to getting critiqued on every hand you play? Because you will open the door to more stable ways of making money through the game of poker. You may be able to join a poker training site as an instructor, or start your own training site. If you are highly regarded as one of the best players by other top players, you may even be invited to be a representative of one of the sites you play on. Once people know who you are, they are going to want to play with you, get your advice, and present you with opportunities to take your poker career to the next level.

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Poker: An Alternative Investment

After you have been playing on the same sites for a long time, you will develop a list of players that you absolutely hate. These are the players that you recognize are at your same skill level or above, and some of them will actually become your “work buddies”. Knowing who the other card sharks are at the table will not only save you time and money, but also allow you to create another business opportunity. As a separate business entity you can setup an online site for staking your fellow card sharks. What better way to avoid playing against these animals, and at the same time taking a piece of their profit. It may be a more risky investment, but the potential return on your money could be astronomical.

There are many different ways to make money in the realm of online poker. I urge you to think outside the box and look for ways to create streams of income that do not rely solely on you sitting down and playing. Whether it be staking other players, creating a training site, writing your own “Poker Success” e-book, or getting a big endorsement, finding a way to turn your success on the felt into profitable passive income will be crucial. The reason this is such an important part of your success is because you are inevitably going to have huge downswings. That’s right, you are going to have days, maybe even weeks, when you lose! It can be hard to come out of these downswings if you need money to pay your bills, so the passive income that you have created can take away some of the stress and allow you to play your best game.

Now you should have a better understanding of what it takes to be a digital card shark. You are going to need money, talent, time, energy, statistics, patience, and a little bit of luck to make sure you get off to a great start. Are you ready? Then shuffle up and deal.