Poker has been getting tougher year on year for as long as I can remember. The online player pool has been segregated and legality issues over the years as well as the involvement of US authorities has discouraged the casual player from depositing and playing online.
The picture is not much better for live poker. We are seeing fields flooded with experienced players, tournament structures changing, and even rake increasing. That begs the question - Is poker, as a career, still viable and worth striving for.
The short answer is yes. It IS possible to make a living playing poker professionally in 2016, and many players are doing so. That said, players need to be a lot more focused and must cut out all of the bad habits that they could have gotten away with in the past.
This article is going to highlight some of the things you can do if you are looking to make poker your profession be it live, online, or both.
Today there are limitless choices for making the most money you can in online poker. Before the recent boom in poker’s popularity, the choices of poker games were relatively limited in spectrum. If you were lucky your local casino might have a poker room spreading small fixed-limit games of Hold’em, Stud, and Omaha. The best way to make $1000 a month playing online poker is to play low stakes cash games, but play at least NL10 and preferably NL25. You also need to stick to a tight and aggressive strategy and make sure that you are always table selecting. If you do all of this then it is possible to make $1000 a month playing poker.
Play Fewer Tables
Mass tabling online and becoming a rakeback pro was a realistic possibility a number of years ago. You could simply learn basic strategy, study some charts, and load up table after table until your head hurt.
You could play a very robotic and predictable style and break even at the tables. This was enough, because monthly rakeback payments would follow. It was not unheard of for players to get close to 90% rakeback and live off that payment each and every month providing they got enough hands in.
Doesn’t sound like much fun to me, but it worked for many and it certainly beats flipping burgers.
Those days are pretty much behind us now. Sites are tightening their belts and becoming stingy with rakeback and bonuses. PokerStars recently removed their very sought after SuperNova VIP status, which has cost some players tens of thousands of dollars.
I would now advise lowering the number of tables you play. Instead, really focus on every decision you make, take lots of notes and you will be surprised at how quickly you improve. Your hourly rate may be lower in the short term, but increasing your ability will allow you to move up the stakes much quicker and that will soon make up for the lower hourly and then some.
All poker players seem to think that they’re world beaters and can sit down in any game and beat it for a huge win rate. The reality is that this is only the case for a very few elite players. We would all be wise to take a minute and honestly assess our abilities. If you are a tournament player, live or online, are you absolutely certain you should be playing the $100 online, Sunday 500, or all of the SCOOP High Rollers? For the live players, should you really be jumping in every €5k, €10k, and €25k on the planet?
A lot of players at every level are probably playing some tournaments where they’re not as big a favourite as they would like to think they are, and in all honesty some of us have no business playing some of the games we do. For tournament players this is actually pretty simple. IF you are honest with yourself and look closely at past results, you will soon find some games to take out of your schedule. There is so much choice nowadays that we can hop in a €1k somewhere or instead of the Sunday 500 play a couple of mid stakes tournament online instead. Those will have bigger fields but your expectation will be much higher.
Cash players have the same problem, but identifying it is far more difficult. Let's say you’re a $200nl player and you have a decent win rate over a large sample. You would think that you can just jump in any $1/$2 game right? Wrong!
The truth is, every $200nl game is different. If you have bad position or a really tough table, your win rate will decline dramatically and in extreme cases you may no longer be a winner in the game. There is no shame in leaving the table and looking for another or even dropping down in stakes if there are not any good games available at your usual stake.
If you can’t play seriously at a lower stake then either get over it, it really is no big deal, or just try and experiment with some different lines. Alternatively identify a leak you have, maybe you're ionot 3 betting light enough. Head to the lower sticks and 3 bet at will.
The days of being able to just show up and book a win are long gone my friends. You have absolutely no chance of beating a reasonable stake for a long period of time without working hard on your game. The introduction of training sites and more coaches in the market has brought about a sharp increase in the average skill level.
Do not let yourself fall behind.
Sign up to a training site
If you are looking to play for a living, then it really shouldn’t be much of your bankroll - probably about the same amount as a mistimed 3 bet.
Make sure you do not just sit and passively watch the videos, you will get nothing from that. Pay close attention, consider taking notes, and when done go to the tables and try and implement something you have just learned.
Revisit videos over time and make sure you understand the concept completely. The majority of training sites have great forums too. Use them, they are much more focused than some of the other forums you may be accustomed to.
Get involved on the forums
I am going to go ahead and assume anybody who is considering a career is a member of a forum, but do you use it to it’s potential?
It is true that the number of trolls far outweigh the superior posters, but you will find the strategy sub-forums have a much better ratio. I, myself, am not a forum lover, but I am a great networker. Use the forum to build contacts in the poker world.
Many players meet like minded individuals on the forums and soon migrate over to a private Skype group to talk poker strategy. I simply can’t explain how much of an impact talking poker wit hother good players has on your game. It is huge. Just listen to a few ‘what’s your poker story’ interviews and see how many of today's top pro’s consider finding poker friends to talk strategy with a key factor in their personal development.
Hire A Coach
This might not be necessary depending on where you are in your poker career, but if you have gone through all of the other steps and feel like you’ve hit a wall, then you should consider hiring a poker coach to help unlock your full potential.
Quality coaching does not come cheap, so make sure you’re ready to take full advantage of it and do your research. Really good coaches are few and far between.
Once you have found a coach, approach them for a sample lesson or at the very least have a good discussion with them first to make sure your thoughts on the game are aligned. When your sessions come around, make sure you are armed with a bunch of questions and are ready to make the most out of the time.
Many of my poker playing friends have used coaching as a way to improve their game. The majority of them have had extremely positive experiences with coaching and would definitely recommend it.
How Much Do You Want It?
We have established playing poker professionally is not easy. If you’re a good player who just can’t make it to the professional level there are other options available to you.
It is not uncommon for players from the US to move for poker due to the fallout from Black Friday. However, those are not the only guys moving around. More and more players are moving to keep their costs down.
A London grinder just about getting by with poker could move to Thailand and live a very good life. The cost of living varies from country to country and players desperate to make the jump to professional could consider moving.
Playing Poker For Money Online
Hard Way to Make an Easy Living
The saying has never been as true as it is today. It is definitely possible to make a living playing poker in 2016 for the really good players and for the great professionals who are level headed and perhaps live somewhat of a frugal lifestyle.
Many smart professionals who have had some big wins in their career have invested that money, be it in stocks, property, or business. This is a very wise move and helps them to fully relax at the tables knowing they have something to fall back on if it goes wrong.
One final thought for those of you who are not professional but would love to be one day: I would say keep playing the game you love. Poker has been on the decline for a long time, but with regulation finally starting to happen all over the world, more and more people are going to pick up the game. Keep your game sharp and take full advantage when the next opportunity arrives.
It must be said a lot of today’s professionals were in the right place at the right time and took full advantage. Stay ready and maybe you could do the same.
Why can’t I win money at online poker? Where am I going wrong? What do I need to do to improve my poker game?
I don’t know. Those are some pretty vague questions right there. Maybe if you sent me some stats, graphs and a few hand histories then I might be able to do something. Then again, this isn’t really much of a dialogue, so that’s not going to work either.
However, what I can do is give you a bunch of reasons as to why you can’t win money from online poker and ideas for what you could do to improve. How does, say, a nice, round 26 reasons sound?
Reasons why you lose money playing online poker.
- You’ve played 1,000 hands. Ever heard of variance? Don’t draw any conclusions until you hit at least 10,000 hands, and even then you can’t really rely on the results from that sample size. Just play lots of hands before you resign yourself to the losers’ corner.
- You don’t use bankroll management. If you don’t use BR management, you’re never going to be able to consistently win money from poker. And no, I’m not just saying that to scare you.
- You play too many hands. Sure, all hands in poker have a chance of winning, but then I also have a chance of having a threesome. Just because an event can happen it doesn’t mean that you should put your money behind it. The odds aren’t always going to be in your favour.
- You undervalue position. How many articles and tips is it going to take before you start to understand that position is actually way more important than you think it is? Have you not noticed how much easier it is to play from the button than it is UTG?
- You make minraises before and after the flop. Why? Raise 3BB + 1BB for each limper preflop and bet at least 2/3rds of the pot postflop and you’ll do much better for yourself. See bet sizing for more details.
- You multi-table too many tables. Yeah sure, all the cool kids are multi-tabling but that doesn’t mean you have to too. Take you time and play within your comfort zone. I’m sure that if I had a Ferrari as my first car I would have crashed it. Thank God that I was broke and had to settle for a washing machine with wheels.
- You chase draws too much. Blindly chasing after any and every flush and straight draw isn’t going to pay off. Pot odds will sort you out.
- You make crying calls. It’s nice to be able to see your opponent’s hand at the end, but if it’s costing you money then it’s not really all that nice at all. Learn to be content with your decision and fold if you think you’re behind.
- You blame the poker room and not yourself. PokerStars is rigged!!11!! - of course. It couldn’t possibly that you have leaks in your game could it. Winning players look inward not outward when they are losing.
- You haven’t read any poker books. Even in this high-tech world of training videos, interactive seminars and snowboarding, there is still room for the good old-fashioned poker books. The better ones are still incredibly helpful, so don't overlook them.
- You chase after stats. You are 28/16/2 and apparently you need to play 22/18/3 to be a winning poker player at 6max NLHE, so you force yourself to play less hands and raise more. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. Focus on playing good poker and the stats will take care of themselves.
- You play whilst on tilt. Yes, that’s right. Shoving all-in with 63 offsuit UTG is by far the most effective way to get your money back after that bad beat.
- You make fancy plays against micro stakes players.Floating the flop and check raising the turn isn’t going to go down too well if the guy on the other side of the screen is dribbling, scratching his balls and randomly clicking buttons. Keep it simple. Bet your good hands and check/fold your bad hands.
- You don’t value bet big enough. Seriously, crank your value bets up and your winrate will skyrocket. Why bet $20 in to a $100 pot when you can get called by a $100 bet? Bigger value bets = bigger wins.
- You don’t value bet at all. Even worse! If you have a good hand, get some money for it. Don’t be afraid to lose 1 time out of 10 or whatever. Not value betting is like never crossing the road because you’re always afraid of getting run over.
- You call raises with weak hands and then fold to further action. If you don’t have a plan for later on in the hand you’re no better than a monkey clicking buttons. You should always have a plan of action for later streets. Fold on that turn if you don’t know what you’re going to do on the river.
- You don’t continuation bet.Continuation bets can pick up loads o’ little pots. Adding the cbet to your game is an instant winrate booster.
- You continuation bet too much. Easy now tiger, cbets are good and all but not necessarily 100% of the time. On some flops you’re much better off checking. See this video on continuation betting for a quick quite on when and when not to cbet.
- You don’t double barrel. This is often because you just cbet too much. If you’re not prepared to double barrel then hold back on those cbets.
- You double barrel too much. Just because your continuation bet got called it doesn’t mean you need to go ahead and throw the kitchen sink at your opponent to get them off the hand. Pick your spots.
- You triple barrel too much. I think this is going to be the biggest bankroll rapist. Poor triple barrels are going to ravage your bankroll until it’s a quivering mess.
- You don’t 3bet enough. If you’re not 3betting your AKs and AQs against loose raises you are missing out on easy money. Put money in the middle with strong hands.
- You call too many 3bets. If you raise and get 3bet by a tight player, what sort of hands do you think your AJo is beating?
- You don’t get rakeback. This isn’t going to fix the root of the problem, but if you’re a break even or marginal losing player then rakeback can turn you in to a winning player overnight.
- You play when you’re tired or drunk. As a rule of thumb, if it's not legal for you to drive, then you shouldn’t play poker either. As sad as it is to say this, think of poker as a sport. You need to be in good condition, otherwise your results will suffer.
- You have a “lucky” hand. No, J3o isn’t lucky and it’s not going to win you any money.
Any of those help you out?
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Oh, and for what it's worth, you definitely can win money from poker. Have a look at how much money you can win playing online poker.
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