One of the most common questions we receive, is “how can I make money from online poker”, and while there is certainly no one size fits all answer to this question, in the following post we are going to take a look at some of the myths and fantasies surrounding profitable poker play, alongside looking at ways at which you can improve your chances of winning and ensuring a profit over the long run.
We’re going to begin by taking a look at those who do indeed play poker full-time for a living, and will delve deep into their financial situation so that you have a solid idea of how much professionals and grinders really make.
Playing Poker Full-Time: The Reality
Poker tournaments have – within the last few years – become vastly more popular, and thanks to increased television coverage and prominent use of social media channels like YouTube and Twitter, many players are now able to watch and interact with professional poker players in ways that they never would have been able to before.
Of course, this has been great for the game as it is allowed more players than ever before to enter the playing field – and it has also allowed thousands of people around the world to begin playing poker full-time for a living – so just how much do these professionals make exactly, and what does their day-to-day life look like?
Well, the first thing to note when it comes to looking at how much these professionals actually earn, is the type of games that they play. For example, while you may think that the big tournament winners are the ones raking in all the cash, it’s actually the cash game players – players who are prepared to sit at tables for hours on end – who are the ones making money.
The reason behind this is relatively clear, and it all comes down to the way the game is structured. Tournaments are fast paced, and in almost all situations, players who win a poker tournament enjoy tremendous amounts of luck.
The increasing blind structure means that play gets continually more aggressive as the tournament goes on, and this means that poker skill becomes less important as the tournament draws on, with luck and good timing becoming the two main factors for winning.
Cash games on the other hand allow players to sit there indefinitely, and this means that they can choose their plays wisely – there is no pressure to make plays, and the blind levels do not increase regularly, meaning that it’s quite feasible to fold a few weak hands every now and then, only losing out on the occasional small and big blinds.
The actual amount a player earns also depends on how regularly they play, and how many games they play at once. For example, a professional who played only in Vegas – in a land-based casino – would typically earn a lot less than an Internet poker player, who may play upwards of eight tables and games at any one time.
Of course, if you want to earn money playing poker online, it’s important that you manage to find the type of game that works for you, along with the frequency at which you play.
There’s no point playing for 15 hours a day if it means that you neglect your health and social life – and if you’re not winning, it’s all in vain. So, for this reason, it is vital that you break into the poker world slowly, and find your footing before getting too heavily involved.
How Much Do Professionals Make?
The exact amount that professional poker players earn is often subject to scrutiny, and it should be said that no specific figures exist on exactly how much pros do actually make, largely down to the fact that the information simply isn’t publicly available. For example, in almost all cases when you look at how much players have earnt, you’ll see that charts and graphs show only the players’ earnings from tournaments.
Still, having said that, below, we’ll look at four of the biggest players in the world, and study how much they’ve made from tournament poker play.
Known as “Kid Poker”, Daniel Negreanu is possibly the best-known poker player on the planet, known for his impeccable reading abilities at the table, and his fun, friendly vibe while playing. He’s also the world’s top tournament player in history, with his earnings from tournament play alone standing at a whopping $32,887,949. Of course, that doesn’t take into account his cash game winnings, which are likely to be equally as high.
Known by many as THE greatest poker player on the planet, Phil Ivey is a beast at the table, known for his intimidating stare down, and the way in which he effortlessly bluffs other players out of hands. His tournament earnings stand at $23,856,035 – the fifth best on the planet – but his real forte is at the cash tables, where he frequents the big games in Macau and other Asian countries, often playing for as much as $3 million a hand.
Antonio is a player that most of us either love, or hate. His chilled out, laid-back approach to poker has seen him become a popular figurehead in the poker community, and his big claim to fame came when he won the One Drop tournament. His total poker earnings to date stand at around $27,000,000, although it’s hard to know how much of that he actually gets to keep, as rumours state that he had many backers for the One Drop tournament, who all wanted a percentage of his winnings.
Phil Hellmuth is one of the most recognizable poker players of all time, known for his outlandish outbursts at the table, and his attitude which has seen him get himself into trouble on more than once occasion. While TV shows like High Stakes Poker may portray him as a massively losing player, Phil Hellmuth has an impeccable tournament career, and his earnings are the 7th highest on the planet, with just over $21 million won to date from his poker career.
Tips to Earn Money Playing Poker
If you dream of becoming a full-time player, and want your own professional poker player salary, there are a few things you can do to maximize the amount you win, and we’ll look at these below.
- Choose the Right Games: There’s no shame in admitting that you’re better at a certain game than another. For example, if you know that you’re a solid cash game player – but find it hard to do well in tournaments – then you should absolutely hone in on your abilities at the cash tables, and consider staying away from the tournaments.Of course, that’s not advice that everyone will adhere too – but it’s honestly one of the best pieces of guidance we can share, as – after all – you’re here to make money, so it makes sense that you’d only focus on the type of game you’re best at, right?
- Practice Makes Perfect: It sounds cliché, but there really is no better way to become a professional poker player than actually playing regularly, and getting a sense of how it all works. While no one is saying that you need to spend hours playing every day, it will massively help your game if you’re able to play regularly, and one of the best things about poker today, is that you can play online, meaning you don’t have to make long trips to land-based-casinos.
- Play Against Players You Can Beat: One of the biggest mistakes players make when learning to play poker, is that they try to play in games outside of their comfort zone. For example, many players risk far too much of their bankroll to enter big tournaments – and while the win-potential can appear tempting at first, it’s worth pointing out that there’s no room for pride in poker, if you want to be a successful, winning player.Try to find games where you’re playing against opponents who are worse players than you. Sure, the game’s themselves may be less lucrative, and there might be less money on the table, but by doing so, you’ll stand a much better chance of winning in the long run, and turning a profit.
How to Improve Your Earnings
Now that we’ve had a look at some generic tips to help you earn money as a poker player, we can take a closer look at how to improve, and increase your earnings, once you are managing to turn a profit.
(Of course, if you want to earn money playing poker online, you’d do well to use the following tips in your games.)
One of the biggest and most effective ways in which you can improve your earnings, is to refine your game and iron-out any flaws you regularly make. For example, many players find that they can’t fold sets. This makes sense, as a 3-of-a-kind hand is so often a winning one, that it can be hard to throw it away – even on a four-flush board – but if you want to stand a chance at really making a good living playing poker, it’s important to work out where you’re losing money, and put a plug in those mistakes as early as possible.
Another thing you should be aware of, is that poker trends are changing – constantly. Aggressiveness is one of the biggest and most notable factors here, and if you compare the playing-style of today, to that of 15 years ago… well, poker is a completely different game.
When you sit down at the table, always try to spend some time analysing your opponents, so you have an idea of whether they’re ultra-aggressive, or under-aggressive. This will, of course, take some time to work out, but doing so will allow you to build a “profile” for each player, giving you vital information on their playing styles, which you can then go ahead and exploit for maximum profit.
Your mind set is also something which you MUST learn to control if you want to become a successful poker player, maximizing your earnings. There’s simply nothing worse than spending a 12-hour session grinding a cash table, and turning a nice profit, only to lose it all in one hand because you’re tilted, tired, or off your game.
There are many ways that you can learn to control your mind, and become a better poker player, and while this varies for all players, one of the best ways is to listen to calming, soothing music while you’re playing. This can help you control your mood – both when faced with difficult decisions, and when things aren’t’ going your way – and finding little things like these are crucial if you want to be able to manage your game.
It’s also wise to know when to walk away from the tables. If you’re on a continual losing streak, it may seem tempting to up the ante and try to win back your losses – but almost all of the time, you’re going to end up in a worse-off financial situation than before, and this is why it’s so important that you set yourself limits, and stick to them.
Thankfully, when you play poker online you can set deposit limits, and play limits, and we highly recommend you do this, as it can help you avoid siphoning off money when you’re tilting.
As you can see, becoming a professional poker player isn’t easy – and certainly nowhere near as easy as it’s made out to be by the masses.
Still, there’s no doubt about it; there IS a LOT of money to be made playing poker online, particularly with the U.S. players slowly integrating back into the scene – so if you want to make a living playing poker, then practice and learning is the best thing you can do.
Remember, it won’t happen overnight – but if you stick to the guidelines we’ve talked about, and work hard to improve your game, you’ll find yourself getting gradually more profitable over time, and before you know it, YOU could be on the all-time money list!
If you still have questions about how to make money at online poker, be sure to check out our other guides.