How to make money playing online poker:
Everything you need to know!
It’s easy to make money playing online poker. No, really — at least if you follow some simple strategies and know exactly what to take advantage of.
This isn’t by any means an absolute guide to making money playing poker online or offline. Nor is it foolproof. While poker is a game of skill, it does involve some luck. Just ask Phil Hellmuth, who once famously said, “I guess if there weren’t luck involved, I’d win ‘em all.”
But if you’re stuck playing free poker tournaments and you want to move to the next level from practice poker games to the real deal, it’s actually relatively simple.
Be inspired by big wins — but don’t believe everything you read
If you read poker news, you’ve definitely stumbled across headlines of poker players winning tens of millions of dollars playing online poker. And more often than not, you read about the same professional poker players growing their bankroll by leaps and bounds. It seems like they have the inside scoop on how to make money playing poker.
While it might seem like only a handful of players are winning huge sums of money, you need to dig a little deeper to understand what’s really going on here.
1) The news usually only features tournament wins
When you think about summer poker, you think about the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas and the thousands of players who descend on Sin City, hoping to boost their poker income. What most players don’t think about are the countless cash games happening concurrently in poker rooms dotting the Strip.
In fact, it’s not uncommon for a poker player to bust out of the World Series of Poker Main Event and leave Vegas a couple hundred thousand dollars richer playing in poker cash games.
And it’s not just during the world’s richest poker tournament that players make their money. There are countless poker rooms around the world open 24/7 where players of all bankroll sizes make their money.
2) You don’t hear about online poker cash game wins
Not only are players profiting in live cash games, but the big earners are making money following online poker strategy. At all hours of the day, poker players can play cash games with other like-minded players from all corners of the globe. And not just free poker tournaments and cash games. Real money games too.
While smaller sites make finding a game difficult for players outside North America, a number of cardrooms are globally focused, including US-facing online poker site Americas Cardroom. They’ve created a schedule that allows players to find cash games with lots of players seated and ready to play at all hours of the day, making it easier to play poker online for money.
3) Big poker tournament losses rarely make headlines
While you hear about big wins, you don’t hear about big losses. Let’s look at acclaimed poker player Daniel Negreanu. He’s one of the top 3 all-time poker winners on the planet. But that doesn’t mean he’s winning every tournament—even if the news makes it seem so.
If we take a look at Negreanu’s performance in 2013, we can see that he played a total of 51 poker tournaments and won $944,126 in profit. While impressive on the surface, he actually cashed in just 11 of those 51 tourneys. And because two of them were actually big wins (one in the WSOP ACAP and another in the WSOP High Roller), had he lost those, we’d be telling you about how Negreanu lost money in 2013.
Professional Poker Players Can Make Big Profit
If you’re looking for a little inspiration for how much profit you can make playing online poker, here’s an impressive list.
There’s always a poker game happening online and live, so the numbers tend to fluctuate. But pending a massive payday in a large tournament, the top all-time money earners in poker tend to remain the same, with the player below 20th place earning less than half of what the top earner has accumulated.
So how much money do poker players make?
In the live world, the top 20 list of players looks like this:
Follow these strategies for making money playing online poker
Understand the importance of bankroll management
It’s easy to figure out how to play online poker without losing your shirt — as long as you follow simple bankroll management practices.
By managing your bankroll accordingly, you can survive the insane volatility that comes with playing online poker, especially No Limit Hold’em.
In a nutshell, with good bankroll management, you can limit the type of losses at the poker tables that might otherwise force you to walk away from the game for good. The basic idea? Never risk too much of your money on a single game of poker. With bankroll management, you can avoid downswings in poker and still play to win.
Have at least 20 buy-ins
How many big blinds should you start with? Use this rule. If you want to make money playing online poker, consider having at least 20 to 50 buy-ins for the game you want to play. This quick rule will help you ride out cold streaks and let you stay in the game. Here’s how it works.
Let’s say you have a bankroll of $2,000. While you might be tempted to bring the whole stack to the tables, following the 20 buy-in strategy means that you should play a game with a buy-in of no more than $100. For No Limit Hold’em, that’s usually $1/$2. If you’re playing poker tournaments instead of cash games, the same poker tournament strategy applies.
If $2,000 seems like a lot of money to start with, you’re not wrong. But you can make money playing online poker by starting small, like at micro-stakes tables where stakes start at $0.01/$0.05 with a buy-in of just $1. With these small stakes, you’d only need a $20 bankroll to get going.
Move up in stakes when you have enough for 20x the buy-in
If you started with $20, don’t sweat it. You’ll move up in stakes in no time. It’s good practice to calculate your bankroll affordability regularly. This way, you’ll always know if it’s safe to move up in stakes (or if you need to move down).
If you have 20 or more buy-ins to move up a stake level, then go for it. But remember, if you suddenly lose, you should reevaluate and move back down. There’s no shame in adjusting your play.
But don’t move up too fast
While it’s tempting to move up when you’re ready, too many poker players jump the gun. Sticking will smaller stakes will help you improve your game and make you more confident to move up a level. Conservative poker players will take the 20x buy-in philosophy to the next level and adjust that number north so they aren’t playing too fast and loose, too quickly.
Avoid going on tilt
It’s tough to keep the emotion out of poker, but it’s absolutely necessary to do so. The biggest way to not make money playing online poker is by going on tilt and making illogical moves that puts your bankroll in jeopardy.
Take advantage of Freerolls
You don’t have to make a deposit to make money playing poker online. You just need to know where to look. Many online poker sites offer freerolls, or free poker tournaments that let you practice poker. These are poker tournaments open to players of all bankrolls that cost $0 to get into.
But even though the buy-in is free, the prize pool can be very real. Some freerolls might pay out a total of $50. Others less, others more. But there’s nothing wrong with winning a few bucks and building your bankroll.
Participate in rakeback
When you play poker online for money, some sites will pay you back a percentage of the rake you generate. If you’re new to rake, it’s the fee from each pot collected by the poker site. It’s how poker sites make money (in tournaments, they collect an entry fee from each player upon registration).
You can search for rakeback deals offered by various online poker sites, but taking advantage of certain deals could make you ineligible for other offers and promotions, or even a poker site’s loyalty program.
But some poker sites do offer easy-to-follow rakeback programs that let players benefit across the board. Americas Cardroom is one such site. Their program, dubbed the Beast, awards points for playing in cash games. Players qualify automatically beginning every Saturday and ending on Friday, with no registration required. At the end of the weekly period, players who make the board earn tournaments seats and cash, with the top players earning as much as hundreds of dollars.
With rakeback offers, you can soften the blow of losing, or maximize your win rate and grow your bankroll even higher.
Earn bonuses whenever you can
Yes, you can make lots of money playing online poker without even playing a single hand. Lots of card rooms offer bonuses to players who sign up for a free online poker account. In some cases, you might be able to earn bonus funds right off the bat without making a deposit. In other cases, you might be offered a first-time deposit bonus that boosts your bankroll by a specific percentage — usually 100% or more.
Bonuses are rarely paid out in cash, though. They’re often called bonus dollars or bonus funds. They’re added to your bonus balance and released to your real money account as you play. That means if a poker site is offering you a 100% bonus and you deposit $500, you’ll have $500 in cash (your deposit) and $500 in bonus.
To release the bonus from your bonus account to real cash account, you need to play online poker. Bonuses are usually released in slabs, and as long as you’re playing enough poker, it’s easy to get your hands on the extra bankroll.
Avoid deposit and withdrawal fees
This one isn’t really about making money playing online poker as it is about losing money—or avoiding that.
When you deposit to and withdraw from your online poker account, you might be charged a fee, depending on what payment method you use. More often than not, these fees are spelled out on the poker room’s banking page.
Some methods charge more fees than others, so it’s important to investigate before choosing. Industry experts agree that the best method available is cryptocurrency. If you want to avoid outrageous fees, look for a site that accepts Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies for deposits and withdrawals (in the US, Americas Cardroom is a good bet).
How long does it take to make money playing online poker?
If you follow basic online poker strategy, as outlined above, you can start making money right away. But remember, big gains right off the bat shouldn’t be expected. If you’re new to online poker, it’ll take some time to make a lot of profit. But in poker, slow and steady wins the race.
Which sites offer the best chance at making money?
That depends on a lot of factors. But you definitely want to start with a site that features a lot of players and a big variety of stake levels. If you’re playing at a small site, including those that are geographically restricted to certain zones (like state-authorized sites), you’re likely dealing with a much smaller field than is optimal. That makes it harder to find players at your stake level, and it could mean you’re facing off against the same familiar faces over and over again.
Are bonuses really a good way to make money?
They’re a good way to boost your bankroll and get more to play with. But remember to always read the terms and conditions before taking advantage of just any bonus. If you’re using a bonus as the only way to make money playing poker online, that’s not a good strategy.
Is it easier to make money playing online poker live or offline?
Online for sure, just because of the volume of players, the incentives being offered, the rake races you can take advantage of, and more.
Do only pros make money playing online poker?
No, in fact most of the pros you hear about in the headlines make their money on the live poker tournament circuit. But there are countless professional online poker players who are making a killing.