I want to play poker full time

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telboy

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I live in England. I work a lot in the evenings.

My dream is to play poker full time but i don't want to give up my job untill i know whether i can make a living out of it.

I have played in the small buyin tournaments in local casinos and have done quite well.

How would you go about playing poker in the bigger Tounaments.
What tounaments would you recomend
Would you play mostly online or live tournaments
What would be the mininum bank roll you could have to get started

Would be gratful for any other advise

Telboy
 
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GoodWoodRR

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Im also working to become a professional poker player. My situation is a little different. I actually lost my regular job and right now poker is my only option. That's a good thing though. I love the game and I do believe I will eventually make a lot of money.
 
flint

flint

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I have played in the small buyin tournaments in local casinos and have done quite well.

You might be a good player, but at bigger stakes you might not fare so well. You need to try the stakes first and then decide if you can make it

How would you go about playing poker in the bigger Tounaments.

With all your mind and all your heart. Put everything you can into it and be constantly learning.

Would you play mostly online or live tournaments

Probably have to say online. A lot of games available with potentially huge pay outs. Also you can try to get to some bigger live tournaments through online satellites.

What would be the mininum bank roll you could have to get started

Atleast 100x the buy-in.

I would advise not just quitting your job and starting poker, but rather playing more and more poker all the time to see if you make money constantly.
 
PokerVic

PokerVic

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Barry Greenstein's Ace on the River is a book I'd recommend for anyone taking poker up as an occupation. It has some interesting insight into what the life is like that many other books don't cover.
 
OzExorcist

OzExorcist

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Some stuff to think about:

Consider the hourly rate you make at your current job. Say it's $20 an hour.

To earn the same amount playing poker as you do now, you'd need to play in a $10-$20 game for the same number of hours as you currently work, and show a consistent profit of at least one big blind / big bet every hour.

That means you need access to a reliable $10-$20 game for all those hours, and a bankroll to suit. That'd be... what, 30-50 buy-ins at $2000 apiece? So a bankroll of around $60-$100K?

If you'd like to earn more than your current job, you'd have to adjust the figures accordingly.
 
OzExorcist

OzExorcist

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Barry Greenstein's Ace on the River is a book I'd recommend for anyone taking poker up as an occupation. It has some interesting insight into what the life is like that many other books don't cover.

^ this is also good advice.

Ace on the River contains stuff that none of the other books do. Some of Barry's advice isn't particularly conservative (he openly advocates playing in big games that you're not rolled for if you think they're soft, for example). But in terms of what the life of a professional poker player is like, it's fascinating.

Have you thought about the effect that having to write "professional gambler" on things like housing or credit applicatin forms will have, for example?
 
zachvac

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Some stuff to think about:

Consider the hourly rate you make at your current job. Say it's $20 an hour.

To earn the same amount playing poker as you do now, you'd need to play in a $10-$20 game for the same number of hours as you currently work, and show a consistent profit of at least one big blind / big bet every hour.

That means you need access to a reliable $10-$20 game for all those hours, and a bankroll to suit. That'd be... what, 30-50 buy-ins at $2000 apiece? So a bankroll of around $60-$100K?

If you'd like to earn more than your current job, you'd have to adjust the figures accordingly.

First a few numbers: at 40 hours a week and 50 weeks a year (so that's a standard work-week with 2 weeks vacation. Note that this 2 weeks includes ALL days, Christmas, new years, etc. If you want more vacation adjust the numbers accordingly.

For each dollar per hour you make, that's $2k a year. $50/hour is $100k a year.

Research taxes, but you'll be paying regular income tax plus the self-employment tax that your employer usually pays (you each pay half, I think it's for social security) plus you won't get any benefits and will have to pay for your own healthcare, medical insurance, etc.

So even if you earn $70k/year at your current job, to match that actual income you may have to make $75k or $80k a year in poker to match that.

The post quoted above gives the bankroll, but the bankroll should stay in poker. It's part of insurance if you hit a downswing. On top of your poker bankroll, you need money to live off of currently. What happens if you start out with a downswing? How are you going to pay the bills? Saw an article recently that recommended at least 6 months expected salary in liquid form to use for payments and such should you hit a bad run.

Now you also need to find out if you can handle playing poker full-time, and keep your focus the entire time to make sure it doesn't impact your win-rate. Have you ever tried playing 40 hours in a week? If not I'd try to do it one week, use some vacation days at work or try to find some way to get out of working for a week to test it out. See if you can handle it? After that week see if you think you could do that almost every single week of the year.

So you need money for a bankroll, money to pay the bills starting out, and you need to know that your winnings are reduced because of taxes/benefits and when playing for that long since you will not play as well as if you just played for one session.

Are you happy making the money you expect to make by playing poker for a living? Do you love it enough to be disciplined enough to do it and stay focused the entire time? Also is there a back-up plan to fall back on if this fails? Will you be able to get another/the same job back if you quit? If all of these conditions are satisfied I'd say go for it.
 
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bustme

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I would have had a minimum of 4000 dollar to get started. And I would normally played after the max 200 buyin rule. In this case the maximum buyin would be 20 dollar.
 
zachvac

zachvac

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I would have had a minimum of 4000 dollar to get started. And I would normally played after the max 200 buyin rule. In this case the maximum buyin would be 20 dollar.

lol 4000? No offense but you're crazy. I'd multiply that by at least 10, ideally 15-20. I guess it all depends, but what income would you like to make? Maybe if you're planning on not making enough to be above the poverty line 4k would be enough cushion to get started, but somehow I doubt it. I'd personally like to have 6 months to a year salary for expenses in cash ON TOP OF your bankroll which should be around 50 max buy-ins.
 
odinscott

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lol 4000? No offense but you're crazy. I'd multiply that by at least 10, ideally 15-20. I guess it all depends, but what income would you like to make? Maybe if you're planning on not making enough to be above the poverty line 4k would be enough cushion to get started, but somehow I doubt it. I'd personally like to have 6 months to a year salary for expenses in cash ON TOP OF your bankroll which should be around 50 max buy-ins.

4000 x 20? You would not try out playing for a living unless you had 80,000 grand saved? I agree that it depends on lifestyle etc, but if I had 80,000 I would be playing for a living (trying at least). :D
 
aliengenius

aliengenius

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going pro

A good book you might want to check out here.

Good articles from Ed Miller's site:

Going Pro: What You Should Know Before Playing Poker For a Living - Part 1 of 3


A fair amount has been written on the topic of going pro, but a lot of it is only moderately useful.
Most of the material written more than three years ago is almost entirely obsolete. And a lot of the new material is little more than a warning or plea to newer players not to try playing fulltime.
I quit my last job on March 14, 2003. Since then, I have derived 100 percent of my income from poker: playing, writing, and teaching. Leaving a steady income for poker was scary, but I am truly grateful that I made the leap. I don’t think it’s fair to tell new players, “Don’t even try going pro because most of you will fail and those who don’t won’t like it.” I tried, succeeded, and I like it. For the next few articles, I’ll give you my insights about going pro.

Is This Series of Articles Meant For You?

This article is meant for a very specific group of people. The advice is not applicable to those outside the group. Quitting your job to play poker is risky even under the best circumstances. Many of you who read this article and try to play fulltime will indeed fail and go broke. But the same is true for opening a restaurant, inventing and selling a product, or starting any small business. In any event, I am writing only for those who fit the following criteria:
  1. You have no dependants. You have no children, parents, significant others, or otherwise whose lives will be adversely affected if you end up broke. I’m not saying that going pro is impossible if you do have dependants, but my advice in these articles is inappropriate for someone who supports others.
  2. You have a Plan B. If you do go broke, do you have an alternate plan? Can you easily pick back up where you left off with your old job? These articles are for you only if leaving your job will not set you back significantly should you fail as a pro.
  3. You are healthy with no chronic problems or risk factors. Jobs usually provide health insurance, and playing poker does not. While you should buy health insurance on your own as a professional, your insurance probably won’t be as good or economical as what you would get with work. Don’t play games with your health.
  4. You really want to play poker for a living. You want to play poker fulltime because you love the game and hope to spend more time playing. You aren’t looking for a quick or easy buck. You play poker for fun first and money second.
  5. You already play fairly well. You don’t have to play particularly well to be a professional these days. This is one area where old material on going pro is obsolete. Three years ago, you had to be quite a good player to generate enough income to live on. Now, with online play and so many terrible players, you merely have to play decently to generate significant income. But you do have to be a winning player.
Specifically, I have in mind a young, single person with relatively few expenses. If you quit your job, you can find an equivalent after six months to a year of layoff with relatively little trouble. Your response to the idea going through every dime you have is, “Oh well, I guess I’ll just have to go get a job,” not, “That would be a disaster.”

What It Takes

Three years ago, playing poker professionally meant you had to be a very good player. If someone wanted to go pro, the first question that needed to be asked was, “How well do you play?” Only once that topic had been satisfactorily addressed would it be necessary to move on to other topics.
Now things are somewhat different. I know plenty of players who, quite frankly, don’t play that well who, nevertheless, are supporting themselves (some quite well) on poker. Of course, the better you play, the more money you make, but poker skill is now only part of the equation. (To make a lot of money, say $150,000 a year or more, you still have to play extremely well. Poker is no get rich quick scheme.)
However, most people who try to play fulltime with no significant external income still struggle or fail. I see common threads dividing the successful players from the failures, and this series of articles is intended to illuminate some of the habits of successful players. I feel that long-term success as a poker pro requires strength in four areas:
  1. Financial Planning
  2. Self Discipline
  3. Emotional Control
  4. Playing Ability
The first three are truly crucial, and they are mostly what I will discuss in this series of articles. Nowadays, most failures can be attributed to deficiencies in the first three areas: A mediocre player who is otherwise completely solid will likely succeed.
The rest of Part 1 and Part 2 will be devoted to the first area, Financial Planning. Later parts will address the other important areas.

How Much Money Do You Need?

Playing poker fulltime requires a bankroll, a stash of cash invested only in your poker career. You generally should not invest your bankroll in stocks, bonds, real estate, or anything else. You have invested it in your poker playing; that’s plenty of risk right there.
You can’t play poker professionally if your bankroll isn’t large enough to support your expenses. The first step to becoming a viable professional is to examine your expenses, determine how much income you can generate from your skill, time investment, and bankroll, and making sure your income will exceed your expenses. Negative cashflow destroys bankrolls quickly and with it your viability as a pro.

Estimating Your Expenses

Begin by tallying all of your recurring monthly expenses: rent and utilities, food, car payments, gasoline, car and health insurance, student loan payments, Internet access, phone, clothes and grooming expenses, etc. Then add 20 to 35 percent more for incidentals, emergencies, and miscellaneous expenses you forgot about. That number corresponds to your “monthly nut,” the amount of money you will go through in an average month. Say your monthly expenses look like this:
  • $400 for rent and utilities
  • $200 for car payment
  • $100 for gasoline
  • $150 for car insurance
  • $100 for health insurance
  • $100 for student loan payments
  • $500 for food (food is expensive, so don’t underestimate)
  • $50 for Internet access
  • $50 for phone
  • $50 for clothes and grooming expenses
That’s $1,700 per month in fixed expenses. Expect to spend another $400 to $600 in extras and incidentals. We’ll use the top figure, $600, as it is more realistic (and far better to overbudget than underbudget). So our example nut is $2,300.
This nut is relatively typical for a young, single person without a family. You may be able to cut some of these expenses out, the car ones most obviously, which will help you tremendously. Many of you will have to shave this nut down to $2,000 or lower to succeed.

How Much Can You Make?

This portion requires a lot more guesswork because you have to make realistic estimates of your ability to generate profit by playing poker. First decide what game you wish to play. Though I play live almost exclusively, I highly recommend you plan to play online. Playing live for a living drastically increases the bankroll and skill level required to generate a given income. The rest of these articles will assume that you plan to play online.
Next you must choose a game. You can choose almost anything you like, except I recommend against multi-table tournaments of any type. As a professional, you will need a steady monthly income (at least as steady as poker income can be). If you play cash games or sit ‘n go’s, you will have very few losing months provided you play enough hours and stick to the limits you know you can tackle.
If you play multi-table tournaments, particularly the big ones with large entry fees and payouts, you will have occasional huge scores and long losing droughts. If you depend on poker to pay your nut, two consecutive losing months will likely send you to a much lower limit or wipe you out completely. Steady monthly income should be your top priority, and multi-table tournaments don’t fit that bill well at all.
Other than that, play whatever game you are best at: limit hold ‘em cash games, no limit hold ‘em cash games, sit ‘n go’s, pot limit Omaha, etc.
Since it is a common choice, I will use limit hold ‘em cash games as an example. Say you estimate that you can generate approximately 2 BB/100 hands playing $3-$6 limit hold ‘em. You should count on playing multiple tables, usually at least four, so you might see about 300 hands per hour. Thus, your theoretical winrate is about 6 BB/hour or $36 an hour. Cut that number by a third, down to $24 an hour. Why? You likely won’t make anywhere near your theoretical winrate for several reasons:
  1. You won’t play as many hours as you think you will
  2. You will take breaks where you aren’t earning (doing laundry, going to the bathroom, etc.)
  3. You will sometimes end up in bad games
  4. You won’t always be playing your best
Also, you should chop your winrate to protect you somewhat from an early bad run. If you budget for $36 per hour of income and happen to make only $24 an hour for the first month or two because you are running bad, you don’t want to slaughter your bankroll before it has a chance to grow.
So you are a 2 BB/100 hands player at $3-$6, and you estimate that you can make about $24/hour of real income over the long run playing. Now cut it by another 25 percent, down to $18/hour — taxes. Yes, you have to pay taxes, and the US tax code is not particularly friendly to professional gamblers. If you make more than our example player, you will obviously have to cut an even higher percentage from your winnings for taxes.

Poker For a Living - Part 2 of 3


Growing Your Wealth

Your monthly nut is $2,300. So you have to generate $2,300 per month in income, right? No! You need to make more, at least $2,700 per month and preferably at least $3,000. You can’t spend every dollar you make each month. If you do that, you will go broke. You will have no cushion against overspending, you won’t be able to take vacations (one of the big perks of being a pro poker player), and you will be bled dry by emergencies. And you won’t be putting away any money for retirement (yes, you need to do that now, too).

So in addition to your monthly nut, you should plan to save an additional 20 to 25 percent extra to build your wealth. This is not an optional expense; it is just as critical as paying your nut. So take $500 each month (don’t skimp on months you run bad), put it in a savings vehicle — IRA, CD, savings account, etc. — and don’t touch it. I’m not a financial planner, so I won’t advise you on the best place to keep your savings. But I will assure you that if you fail to save something each month, you will likely fail as a professional as well.

Dealing With a Good Month

The month is over. You’ve paid all your expenses and deposited $500 into your savings. But you ran great and have an extra $1,400 left over. What should you do with it? Absolutely nothing. That’s because it’s not yours at all; it belongs to your bankroll. This is the part that destroys tons of pro careers, so pay attention. Some wanna-be pros take the extra $1,400 and figure, “Hey, this is free money. I can buy toys with it.” They buy plasma TVs and drum sets and new cars.
Unfortunately, it’s not free money at all; it’s insurance against a bad month. Normal jobs receive even payments from month to month. If you had a normal job, you might make your $3,000 each month, spend $2,300 of it on your nut, save $500, and spend $200 on extras.
As a poker player, you get paid in fits and spurts instead. Some months you’ll win $5,000 and others you’ll win only $1,000. But you make $3,000 a month on average, and you’d better still have the $2,000 extra you made during the $5,000 month when the $1,000 one rolls around.
Extra money you make beyond your budgeted expenses and monthly savings deposit belongs to your bankroll. It belongs in liquid form, uninvested and unspent. If you practice this from month to month, you’ll have a great cushion against bad runs so you won’t even have to worry about them anymore. And as your skills improve and your winrate increases, your bankroll will gradually grow until it is large enough to support moving up to the next limit. Your success hinges on your self-control during good months.

Startup Costs

If you are broke, you can’t be a pro player. You need a bankroll and some modest savings to get started. Before you take the plunge and quit your job, you should have at least three month’s expenses in savings plus 500 big bets in bankroll (if you are playing limit poker). If your winrate is relatively low, less than 1.5 BB/100 hands, if you play shorthanded, or if you play a relatively high limit such as $15-$30, you might want to start with a bigger 800 big bet bankroll.
You need such a large starting bankroll because there is a reasonable chance you will start off your pro career with a bad run. If you skimp on the beginning bankroll, you’ll be fine if you win big your first month, but a poor start could sink you immediately.
Continuing the example we’ve used so far, playing $3-$6 with a 2 BB/ 100 hand winrate, you’d need three month’s expenses plus 500 big bets. That’s $2,800 × 3 = $8,400 in savings plus $6 × 500 = $3,000 in bankroll, or $11,400 total. Again, you can start a pro $3-$6 career with less than $11,400 in the bank, but your chances of failing increase significantly as your starting capital gets smaller.
Some of you may see that $11,400 number and think, “Cool, I’m ready to get started.” But most of you reading this will probably react the opposite way: “Wow, that’s a lot of savings. Do I really need that much?” That thought takes me to my final point.

Playing Part-Time

This “Going Pro” series is designed to help you plan your time and finances if playing poker is the only thing you plan to do for income. That is, I’m trying to help those who want to quit their jobs, businesses, and everything else, and live solely off poker.
But, for various reasons, most people probably shouldn’t do that. Poker should be part of their incomes, not all of it. The most obvious reason is that they don’t have enough startup cash. If $11,400 sounded like a lot to you, you aren’t ready to quit your job. There’s no shame in playing poker twenty hours a week alongside your present job. In fact, if you do that, you will almost certainly generate more combined income than if you quit your job and played only poker. (Yes, I realize most people want to quit their jobs because they don’t like their jobs. But sometimes we must suffer some short-term indignities to achieve our long-term goals.)
To be sure, more than half of the most successful poker players I know have kept their jobs. These players make $200/hour or more playing, yet they do it only part-time. Why? The reasons are varied, but most of them are trying to build careers for after poker.
Playing part-time is almost certainly best for you if:
  1. You are still in school. Do not quit school to play poker! Go to school and play poker in your free time. I don’t care if you hate school. If you quit school to play poker, you will likely be very sorry you did in ten years.
  2. You have a good job that you like. Are you about to get a promotion? Could you see yourself in ten years doing the job you’re doing now? Don’t quit. Good jobs are hard to come by, and, sooner or later, you will want probably one. Building a career is more important than realizing your short-term poker fantasy. In other words, if you are stacking boxes at Walmart, quit. If you are CTO of a tech company and love your work, please don’t quit.
  3. You don’t have enough startup cash. I quoted $11,400 of startup cash for our prospective pro. If you have $9,000 instead, you can probably give it a go. If you have $1,500 and maybe could sell your bicycle for a few hundred extra, please don’t quit your job.
  4. You don’t really want to play full-time. Playing poker is a terrible “last resort” career. It’s mentally draining and financially difficult. If you don’t have a dream of playing poker for a living, trying to do so anyway is a very bad idea.
Summary of Financial Aspects

If you want a good shot at making poker your full-time career for the years to come, you have to do some significant planning and preparation. Most poker players aren’t the planning or preparing type. Their thinking runs mostly along the lines of, “I have $1,000 in my pocket. Hey, that’s a $20-$40 buy-in.” Most poker players who quit their jobs end up broke and in debt to their friends and credit card companies. Lack of planning has more than a little to do with that. Take these steps outlined in my first two articles, and you will significantly improve your chances:
  1. Estimate your monthly nut. Tally up all your monthly expenses and add $400 to $600 for incidentals. Make sure you include health insurance. You do have health insurance, don’t you?
  2. Estimate your earn. Take a guess at your theoretical winrate in the game you want to play. Cut that number by a third because you won’t play as often as you think you will play, and the games won’t always be as good as you think they will be. Then cut that number by another 25 percent for taxes. You do plan to pay taxes, don’t you?
  3. Add monthly savings to your nut. You should save at least $500 a month for retirement, rainy days, etc. This is not optional. If you fail to do this, you will likely end up flat broke sometime down the road. That’s not fun.
  4. Make sure the earn you calculated covers your nut and savings. If your nut is $2,300 and you plan to save $700 a month (the more the better), make sure you can earn $3,000 per month on average.
  5. Keep your bankroll in a safe place where you won’t spend it. If you make money beyond your budgeted $3,000, it belongs to your bankroll, not you. Don’t spend it. If you routinely spend your bankroll, it won’t be there to save you when you run bad.
  6. Make sure you have a big enough starting bankroll. Without a job to support you, your bankroll must be large enough to play comfortably, and you must have a few months of savings to cope with emergencies. 300 big bets is simply not enough if that’s all the money you have in the world.
  7. Before you quit your job, consider playing part-time. Part-time play is less-stressful, requires less planning, and often generates a higher gross income. Usually you won’t have to worry about finding health insurance or, say, how to pay the rent after an under-bankrolled bad run. And, please, do not quit school!
 
aliengenius

aliengenius

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Going Pro: What You Should Know Before Playing Poker For a Living - Part 3 of 3

Why Do You Play?

One of my opponents always seems to be grumbling about a recent bad beat or their current spate of misfortune. They play poker to make money (according to them), and they sure aren’t going to be happy about losing it.
Sometimes I ask them if they’d prefer to dispense with all this winning and losing and simply be handed their expected earn at the end of the night. They always say “Yes, of course. Variance is the enemy of the winning player.”
I used to play a game where that happened. I’d put in my hours, then at the end of the night I was handed my expected earn. They called it a job, and I didn’t really like it.
gambling is what makes poker fun. Winning and losing is what makes poker fun. Losing is part of what makes poker fun. Losing is part of what makes poker fun.
Some pros embrace that concept and some don’t. In my experience, the most successful pros tend to embrace it. The guys just making ends meet are the ones who still grumble about losing pots and sessions. The guys making $200,000 a year or more don’t say a word about it.
There are two rationalizations for that observation. Of course players making boatloads of cash aren’t going to sweat losing as much. They have the confidence that being a big winner gives them, and they have plenty more cash to cushion their downswings.
But also, being able to enjoy the winning and losing sessions alike will help you play better. Strong emotions at the table - whether they be manic or depressed - jubilance, exhilaration, frustration, anger, embarrassment, or spite, cloud your decision-making.
A “zen” approach to winning and losing comes with exceptional play and results. But it will also help you to achieve exceptional play and results. The best players don’t pout, sulk, or whine about losing. They accept it as an integral part of the game they love. You should too.

Playing Big and Taking Shots

Taking a shot means playing a game you don’t usually play for higher stakes than you are used to (read: too big for your bankroll). Taking a shot doesn’t mean testing the waters at the next-higher limit when you are considering moving up. Taking a shot means jumping into a big game you have no intention of playing regularly any time soon.
There are a few times when taking a shot mathematically makes sense, but if you depend on poker for your income, basically it’s a bad idea. That’s a controversial opinion, but it’s one I believe strongly.
Prominent players, particularly Daniel Negreanu, encourage shot taking. After all, he started with a $10-$20 bankroll and, two years or so later, thanks to trying some big games, he was playing $2,000-$4,000.
Unfortunately, for every success story, there are numerous failures. In all gambling, the bigger the potential reward and the “easier” the money, the bigger the risk. When you are a winning player playing within your bankroll, you are 95-plus percent guaranteed of a healthy success. When you regularly take shots, that 95 percent number drops precipitously, and your chance of ending the year flat broke goes way up.
The reason shot taking makes so little sense now is that you can achieve the same atmospheric results (if you “belong” at the high limits) in a reasonable time with virtually no risk on the Internet. Since you can play multiple tables, people with live winrates of $10/hour can now make $40/hour. People making $60/hour live can now make $300/hour or more.
So if you want a build a huge bankroll, there’s no need to take huge risks and put it all on the line anymore to get there within a reasonable period of time. An excellent online player could start the year with $1,000 and end it with more than $100,000 with very little risk of going broke. The next year they could turn that bankroll into more than $300,000. A world-class player could hit a million after two or three years.
In my experience, chronic shot takers end up broke far more often than they end up rich. The most consistently successful players pick a limit within their bankroll and stay there. Only when their bankroll has grown do they move up.
Most pros take shots to assuage their ego. “Those guys playing $30-$60 suck. I can beat them.” “Look how juicy that $200-$400 triple draw game is. It’s full of idiot tournament pros. I could cream that line-up.” Maybe you can clean up in the $200-$400 game. But you’ll be far better prepared to do it when you have the bankroll for it. The game will still be good when you do.

Why Will You Succeed?

Success in poker stems directly from outdoing your peers. Play better, plan better, read hands better, and control your emotions better. So why will you succeed? What are you doing better?
If you are reading this series and taking it seriously, you are planning better. You will have an ample bankroll. You will be prepared for financial and emotional emergencies. No bad beat this side of being struck by lightning is going to keep you down.
If you play well and plan well, you have a great chance to succeed. Never forget that. Even if you are in the midst of a bad string of hands, day, week, month, or year, never forget that. It’s who you are, not what happens to you or what cards you get dealt, that determines your chances to succeed.
That’s the irony of poker. In the short-run, your success is almost entirely out of your hands. But over a career it’s all you. If you aren’t getting the results you want, don’t force it. There’s no hurry. Keep playing, keep improving, keep taking your wins and losses in stride. This time next year you’ll be a better player than you are now. You’ll be making more money, and you’ll have more experience and perspective.
Slow and steady wins this race. Plan for the future. Don’t take excessive chances “just because.” Put your big wins in the savings account, and don’t let your big losses get to you. Socking money away, staying at your limit, and keeping your emotions in check may not sound like fun. But success, and knowing that your dedication and study created that success, is more fun than you can imagine.
[This article originally appeared in the August 2005 issue of the Two Plus Two Internet Magazine. It’s the third part of a three part series. You can also read Part 1 and Part 2 on this site.]
 
zachvac

zachvac

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4000 x 20? You would not try out playing for a living unless you had 80,000 grand saved? I agree that it depends on lifestyle etc, but if I had 80,000 I would be playing for a living (trying at least). :D

Yes I am saying that. (it was actually 40k or more ideally 60 to 80 grand, so 80k is the high end of the range I mentioned).


Maybe it's just me, but I would never try to play poker for a living if I thought I'd make like 30k/year (meaning part of that 30k would have to be spent on benefits you usually get from a job). I'm assuming 60k-80k as a minimum yearly salary. Plus the OP mentioned live meaning he'll need a huge bankroll as you can't multitable live. Someone mentioned $10/$20, buy-in of 2k, 20x max would put you at 40k for JUST A POKER BANKROLL. And that's the minimum number for serious recreational players (ie players who want to make a profit on the side and use BRM. I think the guideline for playing professionally is 50 buy-ins, which is 100k of JUST A POKER BANKROLL). So if you're going to multi-table online I'd say 50-60k would be enough but doing this math now I'd say you should have upwards of 100k of liquid assets if you want to try to make a living off of live poker. If like most people you don't have 100k just laying around, I'd keep my job and save. If you save money from your real job and play poker on the side (if you can't fit in visits to the casino around your job play online) for money.
 
aliengenius

aliengenius

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Also:

Thinking Of Going Pro
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Ashley Adams
Fri, 28 Oct 2005

We don't know you, but you probably shouldn't quit your day job to play poker for a living. It's hard.

Most poker players, at some point in their playing career, allow themselves to think -- if only whimsically -- about the possibility of playing poker for a living, full-time. For most, it’s something a little more likely than winning Powerball. But why not let ourselves indulge in this occasional flight of fancy? No harm comes of it. I’ve thought about it myself. Over the years, I’ve had occasion to read and hear about poker players who attempted to make the jump to become full-time professional poker players. And I’ve known a few guys and a gal who tried. I’ve spent a considerable amount of time thinking about this question -- when and how it makes sense to become a professional poker player full-time. Let me share some observations with you.

Playing poker is a great recreational activity. It is highly competitive, with hardly any risk of physical injury. It is an equal-opportunity hobby that allows people of all ages and both sexes to compete equally against each other. And now, with poker on the internet and with so many people excited about the game because of poker on TV, it has never been easier to find great poker action.

Most intriguingly, it is one of few pastimes that can reward the successful participant financially. Unlike golf, bowling, fishing, or skiing, where the skilled casual player can spend thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars a year on his hobby, the skilled casual poker player can actually turn a profit.

This has led some to conclude that they could make a living playing poker full-time. A few of those have actually made, or attempted to make, the leap to full-time professional poker player. Could you do it?

The theoretical answer is surely yes. Anyone who can earn a profit at poker can become a professional player, theoretically. If you win more than you lose then you can figure out your hourly win rate, multiply that by the number of hours you’re willing to “work” and end up with a number that might be able to support you. On paper, it’s all very simple.

Theory aside, the reality of making it as a full-time pro is much tougher -- near impossible in fact. There are many reasons for this.

First of all, if you are a successful amateur, your hourly win rate is probably not an accurate indication of what your rate would be if you played full time. Consider the conditions under which you now play.
As an amateur you play for recreation. If you play live games, chances are most of the time you play on the weekends or at night. There’s a strong likelihood, from what I’ve seen, that you play on holiday weekends most of all.

What you’re doing is cherry-picking. You’re playing during the most profitable times of the week and times of day. You’re playing against the softest opposition available because you’re playing at just those wonderful times when bad players are most likely to be at the poker table.

As a full-time pro, you wouldn’t have the luxury of playing only during these times. While you could surely play many of your working hours on weekends and at night, these hours alone aren’t plentiful enough for a full-time job. It would be like having a lemonade stand downtown on July 4th and concluding that since you made $120/hour profit for the eight hours you were there that you could open a storefront and make nearly a thousand dollars a day. If every day were Independence Day you might succeed: But what about the 364 days in between? Also, consider your state of mind as an amateur enthusiast. You’re playing only when you feel like it. Do you think your hourly win rate might reflect this? Imagine if you had to play when you were feeling tired, or blue, or anxious, or just being forced to play to make your weekly nut when you wanted to watch a football game, or sleep especially late, or when you were sick? Think your hourly win rate might go down?

As an enthusiastic hobbyist you’re probably not even figuring out your hourly win rate correctly. Maybe you are. But many of us, me included, tend to conveniently "forget" that horrible atypical session that threw our rate out of whack. Or we fail to subtract all of the expenses of getting to the casino, or we don’t subtract the entry fee to the tournament we played in and didn’t win. Or whatever. Our rate often looks a little rosier than it actually is.

But let’s say you have been rigidly honest with yourself and actually have a number that is very respectable. Your sample size is probably too small.
You probably need a good 1,000 hours at the table to really get a sense of whether your wins are statistically meaningful and not just the product of a nice winning streak. Do some experiments with one of the Wilson software programs that simulate poker play. Turbo Texas Holdem or Turbo Stud are great for this. Set up a simulation among eight or nine equally rated opponents. Track the success or failure of each of them in ten 1000-hand increments. I’ve done this and noticed that the long-term trends that are clearly visible after 100,000 hands (about 4,000 hours of live play) are not always replicated in shorter bursts of 10,000 hands (about 400 hours of live play). In other words, players who have a long-term win rate of $20/hour, let’s say, may be winning at the rate of $28 or $12 an hour in any period of 10,000 hands. It isn’t until the length of time is well over 15,000 hands that there is generally a correlation between results.

And there’s another consideration. How will you fare when you have to play many more hours than you currently play? Some people can play poker like a machine -- same strategy every hand. They never lose focus, they never get carried away with their emotions; they play perfectly all the time. Are you one of those people? How can you ever know for sure until you’ve tested yourself by playing 2,000 a year? There’s a huge difference between playing your A game once or twice a week, and playing your A game five or six days a week, for a year.

The simple math of multiplying your hourly win rate (earned by playing 10 hours a week, 40 weeks a year) can’t be extrapolated to playing 40 hours a week, 50 weeks a year because you’ve never done that. But that’s precisely what people do. They say, “Hey, I made $6,000 playing 120 hours last year. That’s $50 an hour. If I played 1,200 hours I’d make $60,000! I should turn pro.” If they actually played those 1,200 hours they probably wouldn’t continue to make $50/hour. They’d have to play at times when the opposition wasn’t so soft. And they’d have to play when they weren’t so sharp. Can a major league pitcher pitch 95-mile-an-hour fastballs five days in a row? The other problem with being a full-time pro is bankroll. You need to have an enormous roll to insure yourself from going broke. Getting that roll together is a daunting task and one that is skipped at your peril.

I read with amusement an article about a guy who is starting his pro career with $2,000. He reckons, no doubt, to increase it just with solid play. If he earns $40/hour and plays 50 hours/week then he’ll earn $2,000 a week, he must figure. By the end of the month he’ll have $8,000, pay his rent, buy his food, pay his utilities, and keep accumulating money. Eventually he’ll have enough to buy a house, a car, etc. Seems simple.

But as we all know, no matter how good we are, this is a mercurial game. This isn’t chess or even backgammon, where the superior players can pretty much count on a winning session each night they go out to play. Even the best of players can run into a streak of bad cards with which they lose money -- potentially a lot of money. These can last weeks or even months. While this aspiring pro might get lucky and keep earning his hourly rate without interruption until he has amassed a fortune, he could also hit a bad run right away and go through the $2,000 in one session. Hell, he could go through $2,000 in six hands. I know. I’ve been there.

As a casual player you have other sources of income. But as a full-time pro, once you deplete your bankroll you’re dead in the water. I can tell you stories of at least a dozen guys, sharp players all, who quit their jobs, moved to be near full-time poker room action, and then a year or two later were back working at “real” jobs because they had busted out as pros. They didn’t go broke because they were bad players. They went broke because they were undercapitalized.

First rule of starting any business is that you need to make sure you have enough money to ride out the hard times. The same is true in poker -- only more so.

Standard deviation being what it is, I estimate that you need to have at least 1,000 big bets, if you are a winning player, to insulate yourself from the cruel vagaries of chance. (If you’re a losing player, no amount of money will protect you from losing everything eventually.) Even then you’re not 100% insured against going broke. There is anecdotal evidence that winning players can have bad streaks that extend long enough to chew up even 1,000 big bets. So 1,000 big bets is a bare minimum for starting your bankroll. If you want to play $20/$40, for example -- looking to earn $40K a year let’s say with an average of one big bet an hour -- then you must have absolutely no less than a $40,000 playing bankroll to start.

But you can’t start with only that because you also need to have living expenses in advance of playing. You can’t live off your playing bankroll and also have it in the bank as insurance against going broke. It’s like burning a candle at both ends.

I’d recommend that you have half a year’s living expenses in the bank. How much is that? Only you know how much you need to live. If you’re living with Mommy and Daddy, that’s not a lot. But what kind of a professional are you if you’re still mooching off the 'rents? Much depends on what city you’re in and in what style you are accustomed to living. If you’re in Las Vegas, living with another young gun, maybe you can get by for $25K/year if you don’t have expensive habits, don’t have health insurance, and don’t own a car. That means about $13K for living expenses (no meals out with that kind of money by the way) on top of your playing bankroll. As I’ve figured it, that means you’ll need close to $55K just to get started.

But why torture yourself like that? Wouldn’t it be better for your bankroll and your state of mind to have a day job to back up your play? I think so. I think you want that steady gig to get you by each month and maybe give you the benefit of health insurance and paid sick days so you don’t go broke if you get sick. Play after hours and on weekends. Build up a really nice nest egg that way, with a safety net so to speak.

Having a day job has another advantage. It will force you to be disciplined with your after hours habits. With a job to do each day you’ll have an excuse to get up at a decent hour, go to bed before dawn, not party away all your extra dough, and in general live the life of a respectable citizen. That’s not saying that full-time poker players can’t be respectable citizens. Of course there are many who are. But if you’re getting started, it may be helpful to impose some discipline on a life that is by nature not very disciplined.

There’s another factor to consider as well. Why do you play poker? For me it’s nice to have a profitable and challenging hobby. But I wouldn’t enjoy doing it 30-60 hours a week. I get great meaning from my work -- my day job as a union representative for teachers. I know that I wouldn’t have as much satisfaction by playing poker for a living. So I keep my day job not because it is economically essential that I do so, but because I prefer it as a vocation to that of playing poker.

There is surely something sexy and exciting about the daydream of being a full-time poker player. The glitz and glamour associated with the lifestyle sure seems alluring and impressive. But I suspect when all is said and done that having to grind out a good living, day after day, would start to seem like too much of a job. That is, after all, what being a pro is all about: It’s a job. And I for one much prefer playing poker as a hobby -- a very profitable hobby.~~
 
Munchrs

Munchrs

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my advice is DONT GO PRO.
 
pokerace3454

pokerace3454

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ok here my advice have $80,000 bankroll
NL mid stakes
NL 200 NL 400 NL 600

$ 20 to $200 sit and gos
MTT tourneys $20 to $500

i make living playing poker at poker stars
and i have $5,000,000 bankroll and i'm happy
about my success. well starting reading books if you did
math poker book chris fegurson reads
you need run good like god
Best of luck

i play NL $600 and NL $1000
and sit and gos and MTT
mid stakes and high stakes
oh another thing if you play poker stars
NL$600 and NL$1000 cash game full ring
look out for Blazed187 he really good
 
zachvac

zachvac

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my advice is DONT GO PRO.

I disagree with this. If you truly think you have a shot, take your shot. Just make sure you have a backup plan. Also note that online poker has gotten significantly better in the last few years. There's a chance players will get so good that you cannot beat the rake even at low limits in 5-10 years, so again the back-up plan is very important. But if you think you have a shot, truly want to do it, have the funds to support it, and are able to deal with the fact that you probably won't make it, I say go for it. If you don't you'll always be wondering in the back of your mind what would have happened if you really had given your all and tried. Best of luck :).
 
Munchrs

Munchrs

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I disagree with this. If you truly think you have a shot, take your shot. Just make sure you have a backup plan. Also note that online poker has gotten significantly better in the last few years. There's a chance players will get so good that you cannot beat the rake even at low limits in 5-10 years, so again the back-up plan is very important. But if you think you have a shot, truly want to do it, have the funds to support it, and are able to deal with the fact that you probably won't make it, I say go for it. If you don't you'll always be wondering in the back of your mind what would have happened if you really had given your all and tried. Best of luck :).

Im a cynic. But definately if he does go pro have a plan b and a plan c and expect to go broke at some point.
 
B

bustme

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ok here my advice have $80,000 bankroll
NL mid stakes
NL 200 NL 400 NL 600

$ 20 to $200 sit and gos
MTT tourneys $20 to $500

i make living playing poker at poker stars
and i have $5,000,000 bankroll and i'm happy
about my success. well starting reading books if you did
math poker book chris fegurson reads
you need run good like god
Best of luck

i play NL $600 and NL $1000
and sit and gos and MTT
mid stakes and high stakes
oh another thing if you play poker stars
NL$600 and NL$1000 cash game full ring
look out for Blazed187 he really good


Is it much harder to win on NL 200 - NL600 compeared to NL 100 ?
 
B

bustme

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lol 4000? No offense but you're crazy. I'd multiply that by at least 10, ideally 15-20. I guess it all depends, but what income would you like to make? Maybe if you're planning on not making enough to be above the poverty line 4k would be enough cushion to get started, but somehow I doubt it. I'd personally like to have 6 months to a year salary for expenses in cash ON TOP OF your bankroll which should be around 50 max buy-ins.

Yes I am crazy... :D I feel that if I get a 10 000 dollar bankroll that would be enough for me to go fulltime with poker and playing cash game.

But that 4000 dollar was the absolute minimum I would have to go fulltime.........
 
zachvac

zachvac

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Yes I am crazy... :D I feel that if I get a 10 000 dollar bankroll that would be enough for me to go fulltime with poker and playing cash game.

But that 4000 dollar was the absolute minimum I would have to go fulltime.........

Let's put this in perspective. I'm a full-time student who plays poker on the side for spending money. I started the school year with a little under 4k. I had to pay for books and of course everything I do for fun. I now have half of that despite several hundred in live poker winnings (online winnings stay online besides the $200 I recently cashed out). And I had my parents paying my tuition and room and board (along with my scholarship). I assume if you're going pro you don't have that. You'll have to afford rent or house payments, food costs, plus the entertainment costs. What happens if you hit a bad run next month? You lose a thousand in the first week, easily possible given that you have to be playing limits high enough to make a living. Now you have a total of $3k minus all the living expenses, which probably put you more in the $1-2k range. See my point? $4k may be enough for a bankroll, but then you need the money to support yourself. Even if you break even instead of losing money, are you going to take money from your poker bankroll to pay the bills? All of a sudden you're underrolled and at risk of going broke. With most players they have to beat the rake. You have to beat the rake, the rent, your insurance, your food, other necessities, and of course the entertainment, you're going to have non-poker fun right? Even without any of this $4k only rolls a casual player (the 20 buy-in rule) for 200nl. Are you going to make a living there? $4k is just such a laughably small amount to start with. My estimate may have been a bit on the high end, but I'd rather be safe than sorry. This estimate is just so small it's not even close. One bad week and you're hurting for money. Don't do that to yourself.
 
Munchrs

Munchrs

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zach you can play 25nl FR for a living. So 10k would be enough.

Assumtions

we play 55 hands an hour at each table(this number is from my own play of 50k hands at 25nl, which is actually 57.5hands/hr).

our winrate is 5ptbb/100 or $2.250/100hnds

we play 12 tables.

we play 40 hours a week always the same games same style. ie no SNGs no tilt.

Calculation

((Hands per hour*number of tables)*$winrate/100)*40=weekly expected profit

((55*12)*2.5/100)*40=660

Expected income

Weekly: $660
Monthly: $2860
Yearly: $34320

now thats just 12 tabling which is relatively easy, and a higher winrate 12 tabling is sustainable. if we achieve the same winrate 20 tabling our profit would be as follows:

((55*20)*2.5/100)*40=1100/wk

Income

Weekly: $1100
Monthly: $4583.33
Yearly: $55000

now, i have played the majority of my hands 16-20 tabling 25nl and have a winrate of 6ptbb/100 and im am certainly not a great poker player. So i dont see why this wouldnt be possible for someone with discipline to do.

my equations also dont factor in bonuses. according to stars vip calculator we would earn roughly 56000 FPP per month. which = 672000 FPP per year.

If you saved them up an brought the Suvernava VIP bonus' you could get 6*$1500 + 1*$650 = $9650 in bonuses from FPP + you could get more form VPP milestone bonuses.
 
Jagsti

Jagsti

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WOW, munchrs that is one sick winrtate at 25nl 16-20 tabling, very impressive.
 
zachvac

zachvac

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Total posts
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zach you can play 25nl FR for a living. So 10k would be enough.

Assumtions

we play 55 hands an hour at each table(this number is from my own play of 50k hands at 25nl, which is actually 57.5hands/hr).

our winrate is 5ptbb/100 or $2.250/100hnds

we play 12 tables.

we play 40 hours a week always the same games same style. ie no SNGs no tilt.

Calculation

((Hands per hour*number of tables)*$winrate/100)*40=weekly expected profit

((55*12)*2.5/100)*40=660

Expected income

Weekly: $660
Monthly: $2860
Yearly: $34320

now thats just 12 tabling which is relatively easy, and a higher winrate 12 tabling is sustainable. if we achieve the same winrate 20 tabling our profit would be as follows:

((55*20)*2.5/100)*40=1100/wk

Income

Weekly: $1100
Monthly: $4583.33
Yearly: $55000

now, i have played the majority of my hands 16-20 tabling 25nl and have a winrate of 6ptbb/100 and im am certainly not a great poker player. So i dont see why this wouldnt be possible for someone with discipline to do.

my equations also dont factor in bonuses. according to stars vip calculator we would earn roughly 56000 FPP per month. which = 672000 FPP per year.

If you saved them up an brought the Suvernava VIP bonus' you could get 6*$1500 + 1*$650 = $9650 in bonuses from FPP + you could get more form VPP milestone bonuses.

Well I'd definitely like to address this, but first off when I said you had to play at high limits I was talking about the OP who it seemed was going to do it playing live. I know people who can play many live chess games at once. I do not know a single person who plays multiple live cash games at once.

Personally I think 5 PTBB/100 is extremely high 20-tabling in the long run. If you can do that you are simply amazing. Maybe I'll try 16-tabling and then 20 when I get the new monitor, but considering with 12 tables there are still times I accidentally time out (although they are few and far between, and almost always one's I've seen and decided not to play anyway, just haven't clicked the fold button), I have a hard time thinking I could play 20 tables without losing profit. I have a feeling I could 20-table with a profit, and maybe the bonus would make up for the profit I lose in doing 12 to 20 tables, but I just highly doubt I could personally profit at a rate of 5 PTBB/100 while 20-tabling. Maybe you can, but I doubt most people can. I do believe though that the best shot of anyone actually making it as a pro is in online multitabling at 25nl-100nl.

# of hands. Do you honestly have 55 as an average? I'm averaging 72.5 hands/table-hour. At that rate at 25nl and 5 PTBB/100 winrate it's $1.81 per table-hour. At 12 tables it's $21.75 and at 20 it's $36.25/hour. These equate to 43.5k/year and 72.5k/year. If you're playing 50nl just double these and factor by winrate if you can't win at 5 PTBB/100.

So yes online low stakes multi-tabling is possible to make a living on, but honestly I'm going to need to achieve at least 6 figures a year to actually do this for a living, mainly just because it's so mind draining. Maybe I'm just spoiled but something like 40k/year just doesn't seem like a lot doing that. I can get a degree and do something MUCH EASIER (not many non-poker players would agree, but poker is probably one of the toughest jobs out there) that gives me a solid paycheck, benefits, insurance, clear feedback on what I need to do to improve (rather than having to figure it out and in essence be my own boss), etc. and probably make twice that right out of school with raises and bonuses in the future if I do my job well.
 
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