The Most Honest Advice About Getting Rich From Poker
Let’s face it, we’ve all dreamed about winning a huge poker tournament or battling it out in high stakes cash games against the best poker pros in the world.
While some of us might like the prospect because we’d like to see our face on TV, most people are more drawn to it because it would mean getting filthy rich with little to no effort by actually doing something we enjoy.
Sadly, for most of us, this dream is exactly that: only a dream. Yet, some people manage to do it, so it’s definitely possible, right?
This article will take a cold hard look at whether or not it’s possible to get rich from playing poker, what it actually takes to do so, and should you even bother with trying or are you better off trying to flip NFTs.
You Probably Won’t Get Rich
Let’s start with the bad news first.
A lot of people are drawn to poker for the prospect of making a quick buck, but let’s be honest, playing poker is not the most conducive way to build wealth.
Here’s a secret: the only way to get rich is to provide goods or services that other people are willing to pay for. Anything else just doesn’t work.
Getting rich from playing poker simply doesn’t fit the bill. That’s because poker is a zero-sum game. In order for you to win, someone else needs to lose and vice versa.
When you play poker, you’re basically trading money back and forth with other players, while the house takes the cut. There’s no added value created.
Now, this doesn’t make poker immoral in any way. Some games are simply zero-sum by default. Trading on the stock market is a good example of another zero-sum game.
You’re buying a certain stock hoping its value will increase, so you can sell it to someone else who’s willing to buy it.
Again, no added value is created, and you’re trading money back and forth.
Some people will inherently be better at it than others. A large majority of people will lose money trading stocks, because the stock broker will charge a fee, and a select few people will do fairly well.
When you play poker, you don’t have to be the best in the world to make money. You just need to be more skilled than people you’re playing against.
Again, this might make poker look morally dubious, but I don’t look at it that way. Provided there’s no cheating involved, the players have a level playing field.
At the end of the day, the ones that put effort into their game, make rationally sound decisions and keep their emotions in check will fare better than those that just want to make a quick buck.
There’s nothing immoral about that. That’s life.
Now, I mentioned that poker is a zero-sum game. This is technically true by definition, but it doesn’t mean there’s no value in it whatsoever, otherwise it wouldn’t be as popular as it is.
Poker adds value because it’s entertaining. There’s also a social aspect involved that adds value as well.
Competitive sports are also a zero-sum game. If one team wins, another one loses. But nobody would argue that sports don’t add value to society.
Even though the benefits of sports are obvious, very few people will actually be able to make a living, let alone get rich by being a professional athlete. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t even bother with playing in the first place.
Poker is the same way. Just because it’s a zero-sum game and you probably won’t get rich from it, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t play.
Now that we got the doom and gloom out of the way, let’s consider the crucial question. Can YOU be one of the few people to actually get rich from playing cards?
Like with most anything else poker related, the answer is: it depends. It depends on what you mean by being rich in the first place.
If you mean being able to buy a yacht and live a life of luxury, then probably not. If you mean achieving financial independence and not having to worry about money, then it might be more feasible.
But it still won’t be a walk in the park.
Can You Actually Get Rich?
If you actually want to try and get rich from poker, your best bet would be to win a tournament.
There are a lot of poker formats to choose from based on your preferences, but multi table poker tournaments offer the biggest potential upside of all formats.
After all, you only need to win one. The prizes in poker tournaments are disproportionately top-heavy, meaning the first three places award you the most money.
So if you’re playing tournaments, you should always aim for the top spot, instead of just trying to claw your way into the money finishes.
This is something Nathan discusses in more detail in his recent video.
Another benefit of winning a huge tournament is the fame and prestige that comes along with it. A lot of players have risen to poker stardom after being mostly anonymous after winning some high-end event.
You also don’t need to be the best player in the world to win a tournament. You need to be familiar with the basic poker strategy, of course, but you could also get a particularly fortunate run of cards and potentially earn life-changing money.
For these reasons, poker tournaments attract a large amount of recreational players, so the overall skill level of the player pool is relatively lower than in other poker formats.
While winning a poker tournament is arguably the quickest and easiest way to get rich from poker, it’s important to mention that it probably won’t happen to a large majority of people.
Most people lose money over the long run when playing poker, and poker tournaments are no exception.
Advising you to try to win a tournament is akin to advising you to just buy some lottery tickets. It’s not really sound financial advice.
As mentioned, poker tournaments, especially the ones with hefty payout structure, attract hundreds, if not thousands of players in some cases. So being a great poker player is not all it takes to win.
You also need to have a certain amount of luck. Even professional poker players can go months, if not years before cashing in a significant amount of money.
And even then, you need to account for the expenses accrued on the way, namely the tournament buy-ins, rebuys, add-ons and so on.
Poker tournaments are therefore hit-or-miss. You can win an insane amount of money in a matter of hours, but more often than not, you’ll just end up losing your buy-in.
Poker tournaments inherently have way more variance built into them than other poker formats. So even if you’re a great tournament player, you will still inevitably have prolonged losing periods.
If you intend to play tournaments exclusively, you’ll need quite a hefty bankroll for it, as well. Since there is so much variance built into the format, it’s advised to have no less than a hundred buy-ins for the tournaments you play.
So if you’re playing tournaments with a $10 buy-in, you’ll need no less than a thousand dollars in your bankroll.
However, if you intend to get rich from poker, $10 tournaments are probably not going to cut it. You’ll need to play quite a higher stakes to get there.
The downside to this, however, is the higher stakes you play, the more skilled the general player pool will be, and the harder it will be to actually win the entire thing.
Poker tournaments do attract a lot of amateur players, but winning one certainly requires a diverse skill set incomparable to other formats.
You need to be comfortable with playing both the full-ring and short-handed poker, know the difference between the shortstacked and deepstacked strategy, you should be familiar with advanced concepts like light 3-betting, stacking off light, blind defense and so on.
When you get to the final two spots, you also need to be proficient in heads-up poker, which is the most technically demanding format.
It’s also where all the money is made, because there’s a big difference between winning a tournament and coming in second place.
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The Most Successful Pros Aren’t in it For The Money
If you’re attracted to poker for the prospect of getting rich, however you wish to define the term, you’re probably better off looking elsewhere.
It’s true that some people managed to get rich from poker, so there’s no denying that it’s certainly possible. However, possible does not mean probable.
Most people actually lose money over the long run playing poker, and it’s not even due to a lack of talent. There are a lot of very talented poker players out there, but raw talent is certainly not all it takes to succeed in this game.
Another key component is dedication, and quite frankly, most people just aren’t willing to give what it takes. They might like the idea of getting rich from playing cards, because it sounds like there’s little to no effort involved.
But the reality is the exact opposite.
Not only do you need to constantly improve your game, but you also need to put in an insane amount of volume in order for your skill edge to truly manifest.
This means grinding for an insane amount of hours, and oftentimes exactly in periods where you’d otherwise be resting and spending time with your friends and family.
It’s a well known fact that the poker games tend to be the softest on weekends and holidays, when there’s a lot of recreational players around.
This is precisely the best time to play, but it also means spending less time with your loved ones.
You’d also probably need to play during the evening and the nighttime, because that’s also a time of day when games tend to be the softest.
Being able to set your own hours sounds great in theory, but when it comes to poker, you might not be able to afford the level of flexibility you might be hoping for.
By the way, if you want to put more volume in, but are struggling to find the time to do so, make sure to check out this article.
Another downside to consider is the fact that poker is not exactly a reliable source of income.
Even if you’re the best player in your preferred game, you will still experience prolonged losing periods, even through no particular fault of your own.
Poker variance can be brutal, and most people just can’t handle the neverending swings of fortune, even if they only play recreationally.
Imagine the added compounded stress if your ability to pay the bills depended on how you’re running month to month.
So if you’re already living paycheck to paycheck, trying to get rich from poker might not be the best idea.
With all that said, the most successful poker pros aren’t in it for the money. The ones that are probably not having the best time at it.
When you look at world class professionals in any arena, getting filthy rich is not their primary concern. They all do what they do because they have a deep passion for the game.
Want to improve for improvement’s sake, because they want to be competitive, because they want to win.
She want it so much they don’t mind all the downsides that come along with it.
He don’t mind the long hours, they don’t mind the grind, and they don’t mind getting their ass handed to them from time to time. They know that it’s all par for the course.
There will be losing days, there will be uncertainty, and there will be periods where they wonder if they should bother with it in the first place. But they’ll still keep showing up.
To the most successful poker players, money is a secondary concern. Sure, it’s nice to be able to live off doing something you love, but that’s not the main thing.
Most of them are drawn to poker because of the lifestyle and the unprecedented freedom it provides. Being independent and being able to live life on their own terms is far more important to them than anything else.
This all comes at a cost, of course, but to them, it’s a fair tradeoff.
All of this is not to say that you shouldn’t even bother with poker, of course. You probably won’t get filthy rich by playing, to be sure, but you also don’t need to be a world class professional to make some decent money.
If you like poker, it’s laudable if you’re trying to improve your game, even if you’re doing it to make extra money. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to earn money.
But if that’s your primary concern, poker is probably not the best fit. There are other, way less stressful and more lucrative ways to go about it.
Hard Way to Make an Easy Living
At a first glance, poker might seem like a great way to make a ton of money with relatively little effort, but it’s actually the exact opposite.
The amount of money you’ll earn will be directly correlated with the amount of effort you’re willing to put in.
And the fact is, most people just aren’t willing to put in the effort that’s required to succeed in this game over the long run.
Sitting down to play cards for a couple of hours here and there is easy, fun, and enjoyable.
Doing it every day, day in and day out, during the periods where you’d rather grab a beer with your friends, watch a movie or play video games requires effort.
Playing poker when you’re winning and calling it quits when you start losing is easy. Continuing to play even when you’re losing is stressful and frustrating.
Also, there’s much more to being a professional poker player than just sitting down to play cards. You also need to know all the intricacies of the game inside and out, which means studying it religiously.
You have to go through all the aspects of your game with a fine-toothed comb to identify and plug your leaks, as well as to keep up with all the cutting edge strategies.
Poker strategy is constantly evolving, and the players that don’t evolve with it get left behind.
You also need to find a way to keep your emotions in check during the inevitable losing periods. Mental toughness and emotional resilience are a must, which means you need to develop good habits outside the game as well.
A healthy diet, a regular sleep schedule and exercise are non-negotiable. Playing poker for a couple of hours on the weekend with a beer in hand won’t cut it.
For most people, poker is a hobby, and like all other hobbies, it costs money. If you enjoy playing poker for whatever reasons, you don’t need to actually make money from it to be a worthwhile experience.
Everyone would prefer to win, of course, but there’s much more to winning in poker than knowing which cards to play in which position.
Being familiar with the fundamental winning strategy is only the beginning, and certainly not all it takes to rake in serious money.
Being able to make bank when playing poker requires a serious level of commitment and sacrifices most people just aren’t willing or able to make.
Not to mention that you also need the right kind of temperament to endure the neverending swings of fortune that are part and parcel of poker.
You need the right amount of emotional stability, high risk tolerance, as well as a certain amount of disregard for conventional social mores.
Very few people meet all of these requirements, and that’s why only very few people can actually make obscene amounts of money from playing cards.
You probably won’t get rich from playing cards, at least not in the conventional sense of the word.
Although there are many ways to quickly accelerate your learning curve such as enrolling in some advanced poker training lessons.
Having an innate talent and a deep passion for the game is not all that’s required to make it big, at least over the long run.
While you probably won’t be able to afford a lavish lifestyle solely with your poker winnings, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t bother with it at all.
If you enjoy poker and play it responsibly, even if you’re losing or breaking even, it’s a time well spent.
If you continually work to improve your game, you can even make a decent side income.
While it probably won’t be enough to fire your boss and just travel the world full time, the ability to actually earn money while doing something you enjoy makes poker a uniquely great hobby.