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How much can you make playing poker?

January 15, 2011 7 comments

It’s a question that gets asked by beginners a lot. And with all the World Series of Poker tournaments and Phil Iveys being paraded on TV,  it is easy to form the belief that it is natural to be making 6 figures a year for any good poker player. It isn’t.

Whenever I am asked “how much can you make playing poker?” I always say that it depends on how much you play. Let me give you an example.

AN EXAMPLE

An “OK” poker player’s winning ratio is about 3 regular big blinds for every 100 hands that he plays. To be able to sustain such a ratio though, you need to be devoted and have good predispositions for the game. Read my Poker Myths Part I article to get a better feel for what it might require.

So if a someone is a regular at the No Limit $0.50/$1 stakes and plays at 6 tables simultaneously, with each table averaging 80 hands per hour, this means that he is playing a total of 480 hands per hour. If his winning ratio is 3 big blinds / 100 hands, this translates to $3 / 100 hands. This gives us roughly about $15 per 480 hands. And that is how much you can make playing poker at the $0.50/$1 stakes if you are a good player — $15 per hour.

Assuming you play two 2-hour sessions each day (4 hours a day), you will be making $60 a day, which will translate to around $1800 a mont — providing that you play 4 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the month.

You will of course make some Rakeback as well. It is hard to estimate how much, since it depends on many variables, but I would say around $700 sounds about right.

The total for our above example would be around $2500 a month. That is quite good money, especially if you live in an eastern European country or many Asian / South American countries. You can live as a king off of it 🙂

FURTHER ANALYSIS

Your next question might be: “how long will it take before I can become a winning player at the $0.50/$1 stakes?” And again, the answer is: it depends.

If you put the time into it and have proper motivation and are eager to learn, I would say around 8 to 16 months. It takes some people less than that, and some people more. This is just a general estimate.

Keep in mind that while 3 regular big blinds / 100 hands is a good profit rate, there are quite a bit of players who make more than that. If you become really good, you can make 6 bb / 100 hands, and could probably play 8 tables simultaneously, which would translate into a monthly income of around $5,500 a month (including rakeback).

So the short answer to the question of how much can you make playing poker is: anywhere in the range of $1500 – $7000, with most of professional players being closer to the lower end of that range. If you can achieve a steady monthly income that fits in that range within your first year of play, you should consider it a great success. If you keep excelling from there, you might even start beating the higher stakes, such as $1/$2 and $2/$4, in which case your earnings may double or even triple.

CONCLUSION

There is a lot of money to be made in poker, no doubt about it. But it is not magic, nor an easy solid-proof way for making money. The number of poker players that make $150,000+ a year is similar to the number of people who make that kind of money outside of poker, in everyday life and businesses.

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