Three times a week I spend an hour driving to the casino to begin my work. On the outside the casino looks like a Disneyland for adults with statues of roman warriors on the outside. I walk in, greet the managers, employees and fellow players and place myself on the 2/5 poker list. For the following 10 hours I shuffle chips with one hand, browse the internet with the other and quietly observe others in order to exploit them. Despite my long-term success; playing poker each day presents me with new challenges. Every hour I face a $500 decision which I must be right more than 80% of the time to be a winning player. Sometimes I chat with other players. Sometimes I listen to music and act solemn. Sometimes I play the role of a douchy frat kid. More than 90% of the time I’m friendly with the other players and chat with every dealer. Everyone knows my name. Some players refuse to sit at my table in fear, despite that I’m really not that great.
Playing poker for a living sounds like the dream, right? When everything is going in my favor I simply can’t help but see poker as a dream. One month I won so much I dropped a grand on clothes and it barely affected my monthly earnings.
I have no boss, yet no employees. I have no schedule. If I piss my “customers” off it usually makes me more money. I can work whenever I want. Also the job is relatively recession proof: gambling increases during times of economic hardships. Sometimes I can watch movies while I play and still make great money. I can listen to music the whole time I play. Writing all of these benefits make me smile irresistibly. I’m literally smiling right now.
Nearly every other day someone asks: “Should I quit my job to play poker for a living?” on the world’s only poker forum.
Honestly, no you should not. Players are continuously becoming better. All poker players are becoming better. If I could go back 8 years ago with the knowledge I posses now, I would earn half a million a year easily. Poker is a dying business to dive into. More and more people start playing poker for a living with each passing day. You can continue to increase your skill level, but at a certain point your efforts are better spent elsewhere.
To add, money in poker is not great. If you become an extraordinary player, you might make $400k a year. And that is the best of the best. It’s simply not worth it. Open some franchises instead, day trade, get a graduate degree. Do something instead of poker.
I would guess 99% of professional poker players strictly play 1/2, 2/5, 5/10 and sometimes 10/25
1/2 winrate = $10-30/hr
2/5 winrate= $15-75/hr
5/10 winrate= $40-130/hr
Looks great, right? Unfortunately you don’t have health insurance, so take that out of your winnings. In addition the games at most casinos are at their prime for only 20-30 hours a week. Most professionals rarely play more than 30 hours.
I plan to move on from poker as soon I can. I used to day trade and truly want to get back into investments. I would love to work from anywhere. Unfortunately, now I work in the middle of nowhere and drive 2.5 hours round trip.
When poker becomes your only source of income it is a grueling process. It is nearly impossible to not feel affected by the results. One month I played terribly and lost $3k for that month-my first monthly loss and first significant downswing. I barely possessed an ounce of confidence. I talked quietly, lifted less weights and looked down at the ground often.
It's nearly one year since I typed up this post. I am far better than I was this time last year and am doing quite well right now. If I actually played 35-40 hours a week i'd be relatively rich. However, poker really sucks..... All you do is play cards and take value from other people. It's pretty terrible. I cut back on the amount I play and live relatively minimally.
I had the pleasure to meet Almog this past summer at an entrepreneur meetup in Medellin. At the time, he was doing really well with his own SEO-based business.
Early this year, I caught up with him on Skype and he told me that he was out of the game. No SEO projects running or in the works. In fact, he didn't have any immediate business/career plans...
This made me curious. So I sent am a few questions to answer:
1. What made you decide to leave the SEO world in the short-term and quite possibly the long-term as well?
Almog: Well, I was getting less and less success in my most successful niche in comparison to before. The competition became fiercer and to beat them I'd have to start playing (very) dirty... Basically, what made SEO very profitable for the work has changed dramatically with the stiffening of the competition. At the same time, my new websites (my old ones got penalised and weren't ranking anymore) weren't ranking nearly as well as I'd like them too and were moving waaay too slow up the SERPs.
I played the World Series of Poker for the first time in 2011. Having been consistently winning at the biggest stakes available in San Francisco (which are a lot lower than the biggest stakes in Vegas), I wondered if I might have a shot at showing well in the tournament.
The World Series of Poker is actually around fifty different tournaments, covering most major varieties of poker games and playing structures. The main event is the $10,000 buy-in No Limit Hold'Em tournament. I play Limit Hold'Em, so I entered the $1500 Limit tournament. Doing well in this tournament is nowhere near as prestigious as doing well in the main event, but it's still a tough test of poker skills, and a pretty big deal.
The top 10-15% of players get "in the money", which means that they win something. Seventieth place might get $2500 back, while first gets almost $200,000. In 2011 I was most likely one hand away from making it into the money.
As I got better at poker, I'd wanted to play again, but competing trips or priorities kept me away until this year. I mentioned to a friend that I was going to play, and he offered to stake me, making it an even easier decision.