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Omerta

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I've heared people that make a decent living playing poker. In tournaments or online. Do you guys think you can make big money while playing this game? I know it is considered gambling, but if you learn from the pros and play frequently you can become pretty skilled and maybe win. But this probably not a good idea for people you can't manage their money well. Is it ¨legitimate° in the fastlane terms? Sorry if this question is not fastlane...I had to ask.
 

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The-J

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Sorry if this question is not fastlane...I had to ask.
You really didn't have to ask. A simple Google search would have answered your question. A little bit more deeper research would have given you answers to other questions you had.
 

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I've heared people that make a decent living playing poker. In tournaments or online. Do you guys think you can make big money while playing this game? I know it is considered gambling, but if you learn from the pros and play frequently you can become pretty skilled and maybe win. But this probably not a good idea for people you can't manage their money well. Is it ¨legitimate° in the fastlane terms? Sorry if this question is not fastlane...I had to ask.
What is "big money" for you?

Quantify it.

Talk to people who are in the top 5% level in poker, see how much they are making. Is it the amount you quantified?

If not, leave it.

PS: If your big money is anything near a million dollar, leave it. Unless you have the audacity to become top 0.001% in the game.
 

Alex W.

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I've heared people that make a decent living playing poker. In tournaments or online. Do you guys think you can make big money while playing this game? I know it is considered gambling, but if you learn from the pros and play frequently you can become pretty skilled and maybe win. But this probably not a good idea for people you can't manage their money well. Is it ¨legitimate° in the fastlane terms? Sorry if this question is not fastlane...I had to ask.
Definitely not legitimate in 'fastlane terms'. Assuming your game is even +EV, which is a pretty big assumption, you're still trading your time (a lot of it if you're planning on grinding low-stakes cash/MTTs) for money.
 

ksc23

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I play NL200 online regularly as well as live 2/5 on occasion.

My goal with poker is to accumulate capital for ecommerce inventory as well as keep it as a lifelong hobby because I like the intellectual challenge, competition, and self-knowledge acquired.

If you're a total beginner with no prior knowledge of poker, I absolutely would not recommend pursuing it seriously as a full-time endeavor. The games are getting tougher every year (due to training sites and GTO solver software), online poker is dying, and the sites are raising the rake which is killing the games even faster.

I this is my 4th year playing after a 4 year gap (played 2008-2011 then quit until 2015), and the only reason I continue (other than the enjoyment) is because I already had 3 years invested in learning poker and wanted see if I could still beat the games.

I was debating between freelance copywriting and playing poker for building up capital, and after testing both I came to the conclusion it was a better decision for me to play poker.

But for a total beginner, I would only recommend pursuing it as a intellectual hobby (like chess or Go).

edit: BEST case scenario you would end up like https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fedor_Holz , but even with 3 years of full time hard work and grinding you'd have like a 1% chance of getting those results (and left with a skillset declining in value due to AI and automation).
 
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JScott

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Here's my take...

- First, why anything I say is worth anything... I used to play semi-professionally, and was playing long before poker became popular (I started when I was very young in early 90s). I was mostly a brick-and-mortar cash game player, and that's where I made most of my money. At one point, it was probably safe to say that I was one of the better limit players in the world (that was actually impressive back before NLH became popular :) ) and was playing some very high stakes limit and mixed games. I never liked tournaments, so I haven't played many, but I've done pretty well at it given how little time I've spent studying tournament play (my tournament history). I've made into the 7-figures over my career, which pales in comparison to some popular online players these days, but consider that I've never played online and I've never played more than about 1000 hours/year. I probably have about 15,000 total hours of live play. I don't play that much anymore, but probably spend about 200 hours/years playing 2/5 and 5/10 NLH.

- Yes, you can make good money. First, the good news: I know several people who are making low six-figures at relatively low stakes (2/5 NLH) and a couple others (not many) who make mid- to high-six figures playing high stakes. But, there are plenty more players who don't make anything, and a good number who lose a lot of money day after day. Poker is a game that lends itself to confirmation bias, so if you *think* you're a good player, it's easy to convince yourself that you're a winning player, even if the data indicates otherwise.

- It takes a LOT of work. With the competition these days, to be +EV, you need to spend a lot of time studying and practicing. Expect to spend at least a couple thousand hours reading, playing low stakes, running simulations and talking to other professionals before you even think about playing seriously. When I first started playing, there were no books, so the fact that I ran simulations on my old 386 PC meant that I knew more than 99% of the players out there (I posted this on the one online poker newsgroup back in the early 90s, long before most players even realized that there was math involved with poker). These days, EVERY decent player knows the math backwards and forwards, and has enough experience that the math is ingrained in their "gut," so they rarely have to do the math during the hand. Not to mention, with the Internet and online poker, many players were getting the equivalent of 10,000 hours of brick-and-mortar play each year by playing online. I know players who literally played more hands in one year than I played in 20.

- The variance in poker is very high. Even if you're the best player in the world, poker is still very much a game of luck. There's enough skill involved that over 10-20K hands, things will likely average out (and almost certainly will by 40K hands), and if you're a winning player, you can expect to make money. But, over the course of one session, or one week, or one month, or EVEN ONE YEAR, winning players can lose money. And this is compounded if you're not disciplined and start playing badly when you are on a losing streak. Do some research on the central limit theorem and confidence intervals and that will give you some of the basic math behind this stuff. By the way, this is just cash games. With tournaments, it can take hundreds of tournaments before you get into "the long run," and it might be years before you truly know if you're a winning player or not. I was friends with most of the big name poker players from 10 years ago (when I was playing seriously), and I can count on one hand how many of them didn't go broke at least once while I knew them. Some were constantly broke because they had other "leaks" in their game or life (see below).

- Recommended bankrolls are higher than you expect. Because of my point above, in order to ensure that you have enough cash to outlast the bad runs, you are going to need a bigger bankroll than you probably expect. 50-75 times your typical buy-in is a reasonable bankroll for most NLH games. For example, let's say you're going to play 2/5 NLH, and the typical buy-in is $500. If you are a winning player and want to be reasonably certain that you won't go broke before you build up your bankroll, you should probably be starting with somewhere between $25-35K (or at least have access to and willingness to use that amount). I know a lot of people who would think, "I've got $2000 -- what are the chances I'll lose four buy-ins before I start winning?!?!" Actually, the chances are pretty high.

- If you want to win big money, you need to play big games. I mentioned that for a typical 2/5 NLH game, you probably want to have a bankroll of $25-35K to be safe. Well, in that game, even a reasonably winning player is likely to only make about $25/hour. A great player may make up to $40-50/hour, but most won't. So, if you want to make serious money, you need to play bigger games, and -- of course -- those games are going to require you to start with a bigger bankroll. Many successful players take years to build up to the bigger games and the good money.

- You don't make your own hours (and the hours of a poker player suck). You want to win the most money? Then you have to play when the worst players are playing. Those are the tourists (if you're playing brick-and-mortar) and the hobbyists, and they play at night, on weekends and on holidays. So, expect that that's when you'll be "working." If you want to play 9-5 on weekdays, expect to be playing with other pros -- and don't expect to make nearly as much money, if any at all.

- You better be disciplined. The most important character trait of a poker player is discipline. Knowing when to play and when to go home. Being able to determine if you're playing well or not, and be willing to walk away when you're not. Not letting ego get the best of you. Being able to keep playing well even if you're getting unlucky. Being able to go down in limits when your bankroll necessitates it. Being willing to sit with a table of boring people you can beat instead of a fun table of pros. Etc. If you're not a highly disciplined person, poker is not for you. Also worth mentioning that MANY poker players are gamblers, and they have another "leak" in their life -- perhaps they love to play blackjack or some other game where they don't have a statistical edge; or perhaps they're into drugs and hookers; or perhaps they like $1000 dinners; etc. If the money that comes in from poker goes out somewhere else, you're going to find yourself broke most of the time.

- Money management is very important. Do you know (to within a couple dollars) how much money you need to live every month? If not, you're not ready to play poker for a living. The biggest reason good poker players go broke (besides not having discipline) is that they don't manage their money well. For example, many players will go on a winning streak, and will start to blow the money, thinking it will keep rolling in. But, they fail to realize that for every winning streak there will likely be a losing streak, and if you're blowing money when you're winning (and losing money when you're losing), you're never going to have any money.

- Playing poker will take a toll on your body unless you're VERY careful. Walk into any poker room, and most of the guys you'll see are overweight and not particularly healthy looking. I've played poker sessions of 36+ hours where I didn't sleep, eat unhealthy food they serve at the table and barely got up to go to the bathroom. Luckily, it was only a part-time gig for me. Had I done it full-time, I'd probably be close to dead by now. If you're going to play professionally, make sure you have a fitness routine, a healthy eating routine and you get enough sleep. It doesn't matter how much money you make if you're not alive to enjoy it.

- Don't expect your financial life to be easy. If you live in the US, it's very tough for poker players to get loans. If you file your taxes in the US, you'll find that poker is not a good tax shelter; and if you're a big winner, you could be subject to AMT and find yourself paying a hefty tax bill. You may find it difficult to rent an apartment. You almost certainly won't be able to get a mortgage. Think early and often how you'll invest your poker income, as keeping $500K in chips in a safe deposit box to avoid taxes (trust me, it's common) is not a good long-term investment.

I could go on and on about the downsides of playing professionally. Long story short, it's not "fastlane" by most people's definition -- you have little control over your schedule, you can't scale easily, you can't remove yourself from your "business," and you don't create any IP or assets that can be sold.

But again, if you're willing to put in a lot of time and effort, it's certainly possible to make good income. In fact, many poker players are fond of saying:

Poker is a tough way to make an easy living.
 
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Omega

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I swear we had another thread asking the same question.
 

AgainstAllOdds

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I buy product for $5 and sell it for $10.

Sometimes the product doesn't sell. So I try to sell it for $5 and break even.

Very rarely, no one wants to buy it even at cost, so I throw it out and write it off on taxes. When I write it off on taxes, I effectively reap 35% of the product cost, or $1.75.

But most of the time I make money. Why? Because the odds are stacked in my favor. I'm creating value. I'm playing a game that creates multiple winners. I win - because I make a profit. My buyer wins - because he gets a higher value from the product he bought than the amount of money he spent. And my supplier wins - because he also made a profit. Everyone wins.

You on the other hand are playing a game that has the odds stacked against you. You're not creating any value. You're playing a "zero sum game". The only way that you make money is if someone else loses money. You win $5. Your opponent just lost $5. There's not multiple winners. Just you.

On top of that, the reason I put "zero sum game" in quotes is because it's more of a "negative sum game". The whole time that you're betting, the house is raking away a percentage of your profits. So let's say your opponent loses $5. The casino makes $0.20. And you make $4.80.

From a business perspective, you and everyone else playing at the table are playing a fools' game. The only one playing a fastlane game is the house, who's slowly taking a percentage of everyone's money without anyone paying any attention to it.
 

Eugen

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I wouldn't recommend poker as your sole source of income. No doubt, poker is not gambling, but more about skill. If you want a good movie on poker, watch Rounders.

However, in the short term, you can play a hand perfectly well and lose; you can also play a hand terribly and win. This is further complicated by our emotions. If you play for a living, you will get annoyed (tilted) when you lose a hand that you WERE supposed to win, and as a result you'll make some unwise decisions, etc.

I'm speaking from my own experience. You can definitely play full time and make a GREAT living, especially if you have a passion for the game. Just be aware of these pitfalls. I'd recommend playing part-time at first for some time, and if you're happy with your results/the game itself, make the leap.

If you want to learn more about poker, check this talk:
 

Andy Black

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I played online for a period of 18 months about 9 years ago. I was just trying to find a way I could make money from home.

In my last month I made a little bit of money. Not through great poker play, but by religiously only playing when I had a good seat to the left of a fish. When he ran out of money I left the table to find another fish. Not really playing "poker" but just lying in wait.

The next month my first son was born. I was so tired I couldn't play. There was no point playing either as he could wake crying at any moment and I'd have to leave the table. I made (and spent) no money that month.

It then hit me that I was just building a job. Put in no hours and I made no money. Even worse, I didn't always make money but could come out behind.

It then dawned on me that the poker forum I was paying $20/mth for access to great training videos - had 2,000 active members.

Whoa. The poker pro forum owner was no longer playing poker, he was now probably playing golf.

I stopped dead. No more playing poker. All interest gone.



My advice if you're mathematically inclined and interested in poker is to have a look at AdWords or Facebook advertising.

It's like setting up wee tables that make money, and that do it while you sleep.

The best bit is you learn a skill that's in demand from business owners. It's a sellable skill.

You don't even need to be an expert to land a client who'll pay you to use his ad spend and learn his business.

You'll be building relationships with business owners by helping them generate new sales. You'll become their new best friend and they'll refer you to their other business friends.

You'll create win-win-win relationships for yourself, your client, and their customers.

You'll attach yourself to a massive, recurring, demonstrated monthly cashflow.

You'll be acquiring skills that can help you grow your own business later on.



For me it's a no brainer and I've never looked back.
 

ksc23

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You'll be building relationships with business owners by helping them generate new sales. You'll become their new best friend and they'll refer you to their other business friends.

You'll create win-win-win relationships for yourself, your client, and their customers.

You'll attach yourself to a massive, recurring, demonstrated monthly cashflow.
Yea these are all things that are next to impossible to achieve from playing poker professionally.

After thinking it over, I think it's time for me to cash out my bankroll and get things going on the fastlane.
 

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Omerta

Omerta

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Thank you JScott for your detailed response. And other folks. From your point of view, I understand that it is not really a worthy endeavour for someone like me. From your response I would say it is considered a high risk route where the chance of having a recurring income stands for almost zero if you're a beginner. Sure you might hit a homerun and if you're really good at it and understand statistics and math but still I would state that it is high risk gambling. Perhaps it's okay for guys who have millions and don't bother losing 300 Grand...Or just a hobby.
 

BlakeRVA

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Billy from Forever Jobless (www.foreverjobless.com) played professionally for 4 years and was making 6-figures. He decided to move away from being a player and started a poker training site that brought in 7 figure revenue.

As MJ said in his book, it's better to sell shovels during a gold rush than to chase after gold.

It's like with anything in life, selling the dream of playing poker is more lucrative than the dream itself. Brainstorm how you could provide value to the poker community instead of becoming a part of it. Maybe this is a money management tool made exclusively with poker players in mind. Maybe this is a website you feature training from poker pros on. Maybe you create a website for people to play poker on.

The point is, you are looking to be a consumer of what other people have already built. You've heard there is good money in the 'gold rush' and now you're running with the masses towards the gold. Take a step back to adjust your framework and look at it from a producers viewpoint. Is the real opportunity in playing or making something FOR the players?

I'd say it is almost certainly in the later.
 

biophase

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Found some old poker graphs from 9 years ago.

Back in May 2007 I had a goal to turn $1 to $1000 in poker. I started at $0.01/$0.02 and moved my way up to $.25/$.50. I finally hit $1000 in April 2008. There is alot of discipline that goes into this. Especially the temptation to move up blinds when you think you've beat a level.

Just so some people can get an idea. Back then an above average player could expect to win about 10bb per 100 hands, so at $0.02 per bb, play at these stakes you could expect $.20 per 100 hands. And if you played 4 tables, you could pay about 400 hands per hour. So you'd have expected to make about $.80/hr at these stakes. Definitely not fastlane, lol.

poker1.gif

As months went by I moved up in stakes and ended up at NL$50 ($.25/$.50 blinds). I believe the graph below is from NL50, but I'm not 100% sure.

Anyway, after I hit my goal, I stopped playing. But the journey taught me alot of skills that I use in my business today. What I liked about poker is that it taught me alot about risk, bankroll management (personal finance), +/-EV decision making (life/every day decisions), leaving emotions out of decisions and bet sizing (product pricing). I really believe that it's a great skill to learn as it develops your thinking brain to analyze so many options and so much data very fast.


poker1.jpg
 

ksc23

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Found some old poker graphs from 9 years ago.

Anyway, after I hit my goal, I stopped playing. But the journey taught me alot of skills that I use in my business today. What I liked about poker is that it taught me alot about risk, bankroll management (personal finance), +/-EV decision making (life/every day decisions), leaving emotions out of decisions and bet sizing (product pricing). I really believe that it's a great skill to learn as it develops your thinking brain to analyze so many options and so much data very fast.
Hearing this from a legendary contributor on the forum gives me more confidence that my poker skills will help me in the business world.

This thread popped up at the perfect time as I was wondering when to cash out my roll and move on.
 
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InformationH

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. But the journey taught me alot of skills that I use in my business today. What I liked about poker is that it taught me alot about risk, bankroll management (personal finance), +/-EV decision making (life/every day decisions), leaving emotions out of decisions and bet sizing (product pricing). I really believe that it's a great skill to learn as it develops your thinking brain to analyze so many options and so much data very fast.
View attachment 13233
Do you think entrepreneurs with some extra time on their plate can study poker as a way to learn these lessons as a sort of fun/challenging hobby?
 

biophase

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Do you think entrepreneurs with some extra time on their plate can study poker as a way to learn these lessons as a sort of fun/challenging hobby?
I think it depends on what you study. Poker is way more in depth than most people think. I quickly learned that I did not want to invest the time into it to play at any higher stakes.

I mean that if all you do is count outs and run percentages in your head, you won't really learn anything that I believe is applicable to business. There's alot of things that I learned back then that I felt were really applicable. For instance, way ahead or way behind. The concept of betting to fold better hands, or betting to keep worse hands in. I'm sure there are a ton of other things like this. It's been a while! :)

Here's a question that I usually ask my friends when we talk poker.

Let's say that you had $1000, and you were a 90% 3-pt basketball shooter. You walked up to a basketball court filled with high school to NBA players, and you walk up and say, I bet XXX dollars that I can beat anyone in a 3pt shooting contest. How much would you bet and why?
 

jon.a

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Do you think entrepreneurs with some extra time on their plate can study poker as a way to learn these lessons as a sort of fun/challenging hobby?
I would and am learning options trading with the "extra time on my plate." There are a couple of good treads in the inside.
 

AlexCph

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Ive played poker online professionally since 2006. Ive probably made a million dollars during my career.

I am now getting out of poker even tho my hourly last year was 300$+. Here are the reasons I would not recommend poker.

- There is no control over your poker business because you are at the mercy of the poker sites. I used to play heads up poker where the hourly was the best but more and more poker sites are making changes to make it harder for regulars to make money.
- The ceiling of an annual profit is quite low compared to entrepreneurship. Ive only averaged about 100k a year. As you move up in stakes the competition gets harder and harder. The action from bad players gets less and less. Whereas in a business after a lot of hard work initially and probably a very poor if not negative hourly, you can scale your business to make you millions a year.
- A lot of professionals that I know are quitting poker now as it gets tougher and tougher. Regulars are getting better because of game theory software.

Therefore I would NOT recommend getting into poker now. Also to answer someone else in the thread, you cannot get good at poker by just learning on the side. You have to live and breath poker to become good.

I just recently quit poker myself after what a lot of people would consider a very successful career, because I know that building a business, while being very low hourly at first, will in the long term make me way more money than poker ever will.

The fast lane millionaire really opened by eyes. You want control over your business and in poker you have NO control and the ceiling of profits is quite low. The ROI is quite high if you're good but the ceiling becomes a deal breaker for me. I even said no to studying affiliate marketing that a lot of my poker playing friends are getting into, because again they won't have the level of control that you will have having your own business.
 
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