5 Rules for Beginners who want to Make Money Playing Poker
5 Rules for Beginners who want to Make Money Playing Poker
This strategy post is intended for players who describe themselves as "freeroll whores", players who haven't deposited any money online yet, or players who have made a few deposits & are breaking even or losing.
Making money playing poker on the internet is much more than just being good at poker. There are several things that successful players do to increase their expectation that happen away from the poker table. They choose profitable games, they manage their bankroll well, and they maximize the rakeback that poker sites
give to you in return for playing. This post will be a short guide to getting started at online poker in a profitable way.
This guide is also written to be as short & sweet as possible. Also, at the end of each section, you'll find cliff notes, summing everything up in 1-2 short sentences.
Rule #1: Start at a smaller poker site
There are several good reasons to start at a site that is smaller than the big two (Full Tilt or Pokerstars
- The smaller sites give you more rakeback & bonuses.
- Smaller sites are often softer.
- You won't be able to make use of the advantages large sites offer.
Smaller sites need players, and in order to entice you to play there, they often offer bigger bonuses or more rakeback than the big two. And because the rake you pay is a large portion of your win rate at microstakes, earning more of that rake back by clearing a bonus or getting rakeback is very important when you're first starting out. And when you're new & barely winning, very often whoring bonus is the only thing growing your bankroll.
The main advantages to playing at a big site are:
- They provide more game selection at higher stakes & non-hold'em games.
- Their software is better for playing multiple tables.
- Their software allows the use of a Heads-Up display & tracking programs.
If you are just starting out in the world of online poker, you likely don't care about these three reasons. You're not playing high stakes, you're not multi-tabling more than 3-4 tables, and you really don't need a HUD to beat almost all microstakes games.
Small sites I'd recommend starting with (that allow US players) are: Carbon Poker
, Absolute Poker, Ultimate Bet, Cake Poker
. All of these sites have good rakeback deals & large bonuses. Use google to find rakeback & bonus deals. Just make sure you check the terms & conditions of the bonus, as some of them expire, and some are easier to clear than others.
Bonus whoring at a smaller, softer poker site with a small deposit is a good way to start playing online poker for real monies. You won't miss the features of the large site, and you'll earn more cash to start with.
Rule #2: Freerolls are training wheels
Freerolls are a double edged sword, they're both good and bad. They're good because they provide a free way to learn the game. However, they're bad because they can teach you bad habits & you could be earning far more money playing for real dollars. When I played freerolls a few years ago, I made about 2 cents an hour. Playing the lowest level cash games or sit & go's, you'll usually earn FAR FAR more money.
So here's the plan: Play freerolls at two of the sites you would like to make your first deposit at. This allows you to play two freerolls at a time. As soon as you cash in one of them, make your first small ($50-$200) deposit at that site. By getting through the large freeroll field, you'll have an idea of how to play poker. Plus, you'll have a bit of extra cash to play with. However, you won't waste your time playing for 2 cents an hour, and since you've deposited, you can now play with correct bankroll management.
Play freerolls at 2-3 sites until you cash, then deposit a small amount. Don't waste your time accumulating bad habits, and earning no money.
Rule #3: Practice REALLY safe bankroll management
Bankroll management means that you do not risk a large amount of your total money at once. And since you are a new player, you should practice VERY SAFE bankroll management. No matter how good you are, poker is a game with many ups & downs. If you do not manage the risks you take well, even excellent players can become broke fairly quickly. So if you don't want to deposit ever again, here are my bankroll management recommendations:
- No-Limit Hold'em Cash Games: 2500 big blinds minimum, 3500 big blind target.
- Single Table Sit & Go Tournaments: 30 buy-ins minimum without fee included, 45 buy-ins target.
- Multi-Table Tournaments: 50 buy-ins minimum, without fee included, 75 buy-ins target.
The minimum is the lowest amount of money you can have to play that level. If you drop below that level, then you'll want to move down in stakes. The target level is the money you'd prefer to have to play a given stake level, so that you can sustain a long string of losses.
So, for example, if I wanted to play $5.00+$0.5 sit & go's, I would deposit enough money to give my account $225 (45 buy-ins). This way, I can sustain a 15 buy-in loss, and I'll still be able to move down in stakes to recover my bankroll.
Cliff Notes: If you don't manage your risks carefully, you will be broke. And you should be extra careful when you're beginning because you are not used to the swings that poker can cause you.
Rule #4: Start playing Turbo, 1 table, 9 player Sit & Go's
This rule isn't set in stone. You could play cash games, or regular speed SnG's to start with. But I believe this is the best choice of game to start with because:
- Turbo SnG's are the easiest type of game to learn.
- Turbo SnG's are very soft.
- You can play more turbo SnG's in the same time period.
When you're in a Sit & Go, and you have 15 big blinds or less, your only play is often to go all-in preflop, or fold. This is a good thing because it makes your decisions simple, and your opponents will do stupid things like limp off 10% of their stack. Turbo sit & go's allow you to get to this short stacked play much quicker than regular sit & go's, and they give you a better $/hr. If you want to learn to play Sit & Go's, there are several good posts on the subject on this site.
Playing 1 table sit & go's will reduce your swings when compared to multi-table tournaments, and the strategy for multi-table tournaments is not as simple as sit & go's. Also, you will want to pick the lowest priced sit & go that has a fee that is less than 15% of the buy in. Often sites will offer sit & go's for very cheap, but the large fee you pay will eat into your profits. So for example, at Ultimate Bet, I would start by playing $5+$0.5, because the fee is only 50 cents (10% of the buy-in). The $1+$0.2 sit & go's have a fee of 20%, and they aren't that much easier than the $5+$0.50's.
Start with one table sit & go tournaments, because they are the simplest game to learn. Start with the cheapest stakes that have a rake less than 15%.
Rule #5: Track Your Results
Knowing what games are profitable for you is very important. You'll probably be experimenting with many different game types, and you want to know which ones offer you the most profit. Also, bonus dollars & rakeback can hide the fact that you're actually a losing player at the tables. Thus, you'll want to use a spreadsheet, or a tracking website, to keep track of your results. There are free websites like this one
which allow you to keep track of your results. Use them.
Later in your career, you may want to purchase tracking software like Poker Tracker or Hold'em Manager. However, until you have about $500-$750 in your poker account, their cost isn't really worth it.
Also, make sure that you play a decent sample of hands/tournaments before you decide if your win-rate is good or not. If you've only played 2000 hands in a cash game, you don't have enough data to know if you're a solid winner or not. Play at least 8000-10000 hands of cash games, or 40-60 sit & go's before you look at your results.
How will you know if you're a winning player unless you keep track of your results?
Online poker can be a profitable & fun hobby. However, there are more things to think about than just playing correctly at the table. Hopefully I've got you thinking about 5 things away from the tables that will turn a fun hobby into some money as well.