It is a dream closely nurtured by many aspiring poker players: To ditch the dreary 9-5 job to make a living from a game that thrives on the infinite skill, knowledge, and, above all, wit. What freedom!
Across the world, millions have tried and failed their hands at earning a crust from the infamous game. Ever since the internet revolution, a new evolution of online players has spawned across the globe.
But is a run of Big Slicks enough to give up the day job?
Winning $140,000 (£100,000) might be enough to take a long, well-earned sabbatical – but will not put bread on the table for a lifetime.
The good news for wannabe poker entrepreneurs is that the payouts from many casinos are uncapped, claims Richard Prew, media director of poker association, APAT. He says there are ‘no winning limits’ in licensed UK venues. APAT also advises there is no substitute for vast pots of money and playing experience when it comes to bringing home the bacon from poker.
Having the right psychological makeup and personality is also a trump card when playing for small fortunes. Players must also have the mettle and money to ride out the bad times when suffering streaks of bad luck, he stresses.
So who makes a living from poker? Prew believes the ‘majority of poker players play the game for fun and/or to supplement their income, with a small nucleus of professionals doing so to make a living. Traditionally, online casinos don’t offer much value for money for recreational players, he says. But for high stake players, wanting to gamble on high stake tours, there are enticing yet risky opportunities to make fast and furious bucks.
The Grosvenor UK Poker Tour, launched in 2007, is a series of poker festivals that take place across venues and online. Each festival features several warm-up events with buy-ins ranging from $140 (£100) to $1400 (£1000) for the four-day main event. The stakes are raised to $4199 (£3000) at the end of the year for the tour’s Grand Final. As with the scale of poker players across the world, its winnings are far from loose change: Prize money for the televised main events in the tour’s first year topped $4.9n (£3.5m).
Professionals, amateurs, and internet qualifiers number those who have pitted their wits for a place in history and life-changing amounts of money.
With one player winning $105,000 (£75,000) for the first event this year, livelihoods can be made – but for how long? Surely the odds of winning such sums over a lifetime are slim? Maybe, maybe not. Whatever the changes, it is vital the player knows the game inside out before he or she endeavors to pay off the mortgage. Again, having a king’s ransom in cash reserves goes without saying!
For online poker players, Prew advises there is no best global region in which to play poker, provided the site is international and properly licensed and governed. Legally above boards sites, he says, are carefully regulated, and display terms and conditions for banking, fraud prevention, and account protection. If you live in the US, you might not be able to play on all Casinos, see topusaonlinecasinos.com for casinos accepting US players.
Those who play online or at casinos every Friday night will not need a maths lesson to realize that poker can be a slippery science to make a living. Likewise. APAT advises that cheap ‘Rebuy’ poker tournaments, which enable players to buy more chips when they lose them, are not recommended as poker gold mines. Organizations such as APAT, Sky Poker, Virgin, and PKR aim to provide recreational players with professional online and poker tours with ‘many starting chips’ and buy-ins for under $140 (£100). Such events sell out within minutes of going on sale. But beginners should play some online tournaments first, freerolls or low tournaments with low buy-in. Full Tilt has many good options, see Full Tilt Poker Download for the client.
Inevitably, these sums are not enough to live on for a year; the art of poker playing demands a seasoned rounder not only to make a living but to cover losses.
Unlike other games, practice makes viable, but not perfect poker. This, of course, is the substance of dreams. Few of us will be lucky enough to take home $8.5m (£5.8m) as won by Peter Eastgate, at last year’s World Series of Poker final. But there’s no harm in dreaming is there?