During the golden poker era, between 2003 and 2010, a seemingly big number of people have made a tidy profit playing real money poker. Some of them became stars overnight, making seven-figure sums in the period of just a few years.
It happened live, with guys like Chris Moneymaker, but it happened even more online where 18 and 19 years old kids were turning their $50 deposits into millions.
This tickled the imagination and sparked dreams of many that they could make a living playing real money poker from the comfort of their homes, earning more money than they ever could working 9 to 5 jobs.
During this golden era, people dropped colleges and abandoned their jobs to pursue a career of a professional poker player. It just seemed so easy, so surreal. Put a few hundred into your online accounts at sites like Ignition Poker, click buttons for a few hours a day, and become a millionaire. Others have done it so why not them?
Epic stories kept coming in. Legends like Tom ‘durrrr’ Dwan and ‘Isildur1’ capture our imagination, as they made it all look so easy. Even if you lost everything, getting it all back, and then some, seemed simple.
For a twenty-something struggling with the college which may or may not help him get a decent job, this seemed like a really viable alternative.
What many would forget (or simply didn’t want to think about) was that for every ‘durrrr’ out there, there were hundreds, maybe even thousands, who tried but never made it in the cruel world of real money poker, often because of tilt.
It was no child’s play, far from it, it just seemed like it because we were focused on a few guys who were sitting at the top.
The funny thing with real money poker was that everybody and their dog thought they had what it takes. Very few people watch Federer play tennis and say “I can do this, I can be just like this guy.”
But with online poker, the entrance bar was so low that everybody could easily take a shot. Many have, but a few succeeded.
All this is not to say that it is impossible to make a successful career in real money poker, but it is much harder than it looks. There are few things you need to understand and consider before you make the jump.
First of all, the golden age of poker is behind us. Games have become much tougher. They are still not unbeatable, but compared to ten years ago; winning has become much more difficult, and your realistic expectation of income is much lower.
The fish-to-regular ratio has decreased dramatically exactly because so many people decided to give real money poker a serious shot.
While not many made it all the way to the top, thanks to plentiful resources available online, most of these players have become at least solid and far from easy targets. There are still poker rooms where you can find some fish swimming around, as described at this site about US poker online, but these days you need to look for them. They will not come to you.
These stories about building huge bankrolls from $50 or $100 deposit are often not verified. Even when they are true, you need to understand that variance played a huge role in this. While these players are undoubtedly good, they had to run extremely well never to lose their initial deposit.
These are exceptions rather than rules and even playing in very softest games, you are way more likely to lose your first $50 than to turn it into millions.
To succeed in anything so much that it becomes your profession and affords you a pleasant life you will need to put a lot of hours and effort into studying and practicing. Real money poker is no different. Just because it is not physically taxing it doesn’t mean it is easy.
People who actually succeed put in an inordinate amount of hours away from the tables, analyzing their mistakes, studying their opponents, and always finding new ways to increase their profits as much as they possibly can.
One thing you need to be specially aware of when it comes to real money poker is that it always evolves. If you don’t keep up the pace, you will fall behind very quickly. The best players from five years ago would probably not fare well in today’s games if they stagnated.
Despite all this, online poker remains a rather appealing choice of career. The freedom to work your own hours, seemingly limitless earning potential, and such low prerequisites to take your shot make real money poker appear like one of the best options to create a comfortable life for yourself.
If you feel like it something you could, there is absolutely no reason you shouldn’t do it, but you must absolutely make sure to do it right. You know how they love to say, just take a leap of fate? Don’t do that with real money poker; you could end up in a ditch really fast, wondering what had happened.
A calm, methodical, and reasonable approach is your best option. Don’t just quit your job and put your savings into your online poker account.
The odds are you’ll be bust before you even start properly. Instead, make a small deposit that you can easily afford and start with lower tables.
If you can’t beat these, don’t fool yourself into believing you will do better at higher levels. You won’t. Real money poker becomes increasingly harder as you move up the ranks.
Make time during your week for playing and studying. You can probably find everything you need for free, but if you are really serious, there are also numerous coaching sites that will give you access to quality studying materials for a couple of dozen bucks.
Keep playing and improving until you are confident you can beat your current level. Only then it is time to move up.
After you’ve played for six months or so and you are showing consistent results, you can start considering real money poker as a career. However, you at this point you need to be playing and beating the levels which are high enough to supplement your income and cover all your expenses.
Winning at NL10 will not get you through life if you are living in the States or developed European countries.
Once all these things are in line and just before you pull the trigger, also think about the fact that you winning today doesn’t mean you will be winning tomorrow. You will need to keep working on your game constantly, and there are no guarantees that come with a career of real money poker player.
Things like Black Friday can always happen, and you will have no influence over that.
If you can beat the games and are not risk-averse, then go ahead and give it a shot. Just remember that real money poker is not a career for faint-hearted.
You might be free to set your own hours and take vacation whenever you like, but there are other, mentally taxing difficulties waiting for you along the road.