Poker is one of the few forms of gambling where it’s possible to earn money consistently through playing if you’re good enough. Professional poker players are those who are good enough at the game that they can dedicate themselves to it, relying on the money they make through poker as their main form of income.
Top poker players can earn millions over the course of their careers, with the best players currently all having career earnings in the tens of millions. However, it’s not an easy path to take. While many people dream of playing in the World Series of Poker and taking home million-dollar prizes, the reality is that most people will lose money from playing poker.
How Poker Player Earnings Work
Online poker games are unique in that they can offer a full range of possibilities when it comes to earnings. Top players have almost no limit on how much they can make, while those at the bottom of the pile could make just a few hundred dollars a month. It mostly depends on player skill, which makes it one of the most interesting careers out there.
As well as being affected by skill, it also depends on the stakes you play at. If you play poker for low stakes, you’ll have a lower risk of losing money, and you’ll also usually play against easier opposition. On the flip side, you won’t be able to earn as much even if you’re really good. Playing at low-stakes tables can make a professional player between $600 and $5000 a month, depending on skill level and time played.
Playing at higher stakes tables means a greater risk of losing money, so a larger bankroll is required. On top of that, it means you’re more likely to play against other players who are at a high skill level. For that reason, many poker players avoid high-stakes tables until they’re very confident in their own abilities. Of course, highly skilled players have the potential to earn a lot more at higher stake tables. This could be $1000 to $10000 per month, depending on the time played and player skill.
The hourly rate for playing poker depends on factors including skill, table stakes, and whether the games are played online or in person. Online usually offers a higher earning rate, as the speed of play is much quicker. When playing live poker, you can expect to play around 25-30 hands an hour. With online play, you could see 60-80 hands and an hour and even more on some sites. Many players will also play multiple tables at once, further increasing their hands and their hourly rate.
Where Do Poker Players Make Their Money
Most poker players earn their money from playing poker, either online or in live games. Live poker offers the advantage of being able to read opponents, plus the skill level is often lower. However, online poker is faster and easier to join, increasing earning potential. The biggest live tournaments do usually offer bigger prizes, but many online tournaments are still worth entering.
Aside from playing and winning poker games, some players make money through alternative means too. One of the most common ways for top players is sponsorships and endorsements. Many big-name poker stars are sponsored by poker sites or other companies as a form of advertising. The poker player promotes the brand and gets paid to do so. Popular players with a large following and social media presence are usually capable of earning the best deals which could be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Some poker players also make a living by teaching others how to play. Many of the biggest names in poker have released courses or videos that explain poker strategy to beginners and those who want to improve. This can be a great way of earning some passive income, as once the course or videos are made, they’ll continue earning money through them. There will always be people wanting to learn how to play too, so it’s money that can last well after the player has retired.