Back in the “good ol’ days”, a poker player could read one poker strategy book and it would give them an edge in any cardroom. Thanks to websites like PokerCoaching.com, the average player pool is much better, meaning it has never been harder to make significant money playing poker. Especially playing poker online, the skill level of the average player has been raised, with the public having access to proper coaching, strategy content, and solvers. Despite it being difficult, players that are willing to put in the time can still make significant money playing online cash games. If you want to learn what it takes to make $100,000 a year playing online cash games, this article is just for you.
Table Of Contents
– Calculating How Much Money You Make Playing Poker
– Increasing Your Win Rate ($ Per Hand)
– Getting In Volume Playing Poker (Hands Played)
– Winning $100,000 A Year Playing Cash Games
Calculating How Much Money You Make Playing Poker
To learn how to make $100,000 a year from playing poker, you must first look at the big picture through the following formula:
EV (Winnings) = ($ Per Hand) * (Hands Played)
This equation is the simplest way of looking at your earnings expectations when playing poker. Taking the average amount of money you win per hand and multiplying it by the number of hands you play provides a decent estimate of your earnings.
Although the above equation provides a simple way to estimate earnings, the variance of poker prevents it from being entirely accurate. While variance will prove a nuisance at times, remember that the more volume you are able to accrue, the more variance is negated. Simply put; the more hands you play, the more hands you in which you get “lucky”. The more hands you play in which you get lucky, the less significant losses from “unlucky” hands become. When you increase your hand volume, you get closer to winning what you deserve and actualizing your peak poker earnings. Once you increase your volume, it is time to increase your win rate.
Increasing Your Win Rate ($ Per Hand)
Knowing how to improve your win rate starts with breaking down the factors that dictate how much money you win per hand.
Skill Level As A Poker Player
The better you are at poker means the more money you will make from playing the game. If you are willing to put the time in to study no-limit Texas hold’em, you can increase your win rate by simply becoming better. If you are new to the game and don’t know where to start studying, I highly recommend checking out the Jonathan Little YouTube.
Level Of Competition At The Poker Table
Even though poker players love to poke fun at the “whales” they may play with, every player loves to see one sit down at their table. Finding the most profitable games (also known as game selection) is one of the best ways you can help improve your win rate. If you are able to play in games in which you have a skill advantage over the competition, you will naturally make more money by playing with less-skilled opponents.
When looking for online cash games to play in, utilize the statistics provided to find games where you will have an edge. A table with a high Players Per Flop Percentage signifies players at the table are playing too loose, a factor you can profitably exploit. Additionally, a table with a high Average Pot statistic suggests there may be a tilted opponent present punting off their stack.
If you are an online poker tournament or cash game grinder, most online poker sites allow you to take notes and store information on your opponents. By playing a lot, you will start to recognize the usernames of the regulars on the sites you play on. If you can remember the strategies and skill levels of your usual competition, you will be in a better position to exploit them at the poker table and boost your win rate.
Having A Sound Mind And Body As A Poker Player
Being of sound mind and body will ensure you are able to operate at your peak performance as a poker player. Taking part in self-care by exercising, eating a healthy diet, meditating, and interacting socially will leave you with a clearer mind at the poker table. When you feel your best, you play your best, reaping all the additional benefits of a healthy lifestyle.
Playing At The Right Cash Game Stakes
If you are playing in a $1/$2 cash game and eventually move up to $2/$5 maintaining the same win rate, you will make more money. While moving up to bigger games can result in earning more money, the higher the stakes means the more skilled your competition is. The key is finding the most profitable stakes by balancing your skill level and win rate.
Let’s say every 100 hands you play at $1/$2, on average you win 8 big blinds, equaling .16 cents per hand. Now let’s say when you play a $2/$5 cash game, your average winnings are 6 big blinds per 100 hands played. Even though you win 2 less big blinds per 100 hands played at $2/$5, the .30 cent average per hand would still be more profitable despite having won fewer hands. By utilizing the EV (Winnings) Equation, a poker player can find out at what stakes they are the most profitable
Even if you have the skill level to play at a specific set of stakes, it is important you are mentally equipped to take on the challenge. You should always avoid playing with “scared money”, if the stakes are too high and all you can think about is how much money is laying on the table, that is probably a sign you are playing too high. The best strategy for staying within the right stakes is practicing proper bankroll habits. By only risking a small percentage of your “poker net worth” when you play, it ensures you can afford to handle the variance and not go broke.
If you are sitting at a cash game table and can feel yourself becoming bored, that is probably a sign you are playing too low of stakes. On the flip side, if you are all anxious and sweaty at the table, it’s probably time for you to move down. Do not be overly concerned about the stakes you are playing at, simply focus on improving your game and gradually you will move up when you are ready.
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Getting In Volume Playing Poker (Hands Played)
The second part of the “Winnings” equation, Hands Played, refers to the amount of hands played by an individual. Hand volume is often where a lot of players make the mistake of capping their earnings potential. While winning an amount like $100,000 can seem like a daunting task, if you have a steady and consistent playing schedule with a modest $ Per Hand, such six-figure totals become more attainable.
Factors Affecting Your Total Number Of Poker Hands Played
Cash Game Session Length (Time on Tables)
Every hour you play increases the total amount of hands you play during a online cash game session. If you play a cash game for two hours, naturally you play double the hands you would have had you played for just one hour. While the more time you dedicate to playing poker results in more hand volume, the length of your sessions should be influenced by your performance and what your “sweet spot” is. The amount of time someone can continue playing good, fundamentally sound poker is dependent on the individual, take note of when you start feeling fatigued and when your focus begins to falter.
Number Of Poker Tables Played
While more prevalent to online cash game players as opposed to those who grind live cash games, the amount of tables you are able to play directly influences your volume. If you play a certain amount of hands while playing at one table, by adding a second table that total in turn doubles. Although all online cash game players benefit from multi-tabling, it is critical they stay within their threshold and not attempt too many tables. Much like the length of sessions, figure out how many tables you can manage while still playing your best poker.
The Benefits Of Stacking:
1 Table For 1 Hour = 120 Hands / Session
4 Tables For 1 Hour = 480 Hands / Session
1 Table for 4 Hours = 480 Hands / Session
4 Tables For 4 Hours = 1920 Hands / Session
The above chart shows the benefits of multi-tabling. If you can maintain the same win rate you have playing one table for one hour playing 4 tables over 4 hours, in theory, you can multiply your winnings by sixteen.
While the potential of increasing your length of sessions and multi-tabling can be alluring, be sure to be mindful of fatigue and not overexert yourself. Maintain holistic and healthy practices to fuel yourself for grind sessions.
Look out for warning signs, if you are getting tired or losing focus, you are pushing yourself too hard. If you feel rushed and are consistently timing out on hands, that is a sign you are playing too many tables or too high of stakes. Feeling emotional and stressed when playing online? If the answer is yes, you are tilted at the poker table and need to scale back the length and amount of sessions.
For reference, my sessions usually last 2-3 hours, and if I am playing multiple sessions in one day the second/third sessions are usually shorter. The amount of tables I play depends on how difficult the games are. If the games are soft, I try to play as many tables as possible, which usually means playing 9-12 tables. Logging on, if I see that the tables are particularly tough, I’ll usually play 4-6 of the best tables available.
Poker Players Per Table
Often a forgotten aspect of assessing hand volume, it is important to remember the more short-handed you are the more hands you play each hour. Compared to a six-handed table, a three-handed table not only doubles the number of hands played, it actually triples the number of hands played compared to the other game. If you can find short handed cash games where you maintain the same average win rate, play them as much as possible.
While the increase in hands per hour can make short handed games more profitable, remember that more hands means more decisions. If you are multi-tabling a number of short handed cash games, it may be in your best interest to play fewer tables.
Number Of Cash Game Sessions
Once you discover the appropriate session length you can handle, knowing the number of sessions you can play within a week or month will help you in reaching your earnings goals. By solidifying average earnings across average time spent, you can potentially set a time frame for how much you will be able to win over a set period of time. If you play multiple sessions in a day, take note that usually the following sessions within a day will be shorter due to fatigue.
Your sessions are heavily dependent on your life and relationship with poker. If you have a full-time job and poker is not your primary source of income, it is okay to be a weekend warrior!
The amount of sessions I play each week is determined by what other things I have going on. If I have no other work and no plans, I can easily play 7 sessions a week with one session each day. If I elect to play two sessions in one day, I will likely take one day off throughout the course of the week to recharge and stay fresh. During busy work weeks, I play shorter sessions and allocate play time towards days with the least amount of other commitments.
Winning $100,000 A Year Playing Cash Games
Now that you know the factors that determine hand volume and earnings, let’s figure out what you need to do to win $100,000 a year playing poker.
Let’s begin by assuming you are playing $1/$2 NLH, with a win rate of 5 big blinds per 100 hands played ($0.10 per hand). At this win rate, let’s also assume you can 8-table for 4 hours (approximately 1000 hands an hour), five times a week (20 hours of total weekly playtime).
EV (Winnings/week) = ($0.10) * (1000*20)
Plugging these totals into the Winnings equation, a player 8-tabling $1/$2 NLH for 20 hours a week would earn $2,000 weekly. If you maintained these totals and played 50 weeks out of the year, your earnings would reach $100,000, not including any rakeback, freerolls, or deposit bonuses (if you are putting in this kind of volume, be sure to cash in on any perks offered by poker sites).
Reaching The Necessary Cash Game Stakes
Some poker players reading this article may not be playing $1/$2 online cash games just yet. While you may be playing lower stakes, if you are winning more hands per hour your winnings per hand may be the same.
Conversely, if you are playing higher than $1/$2 but are winning less hands per hour, the higher stakes may be enough to make up for it. Even though playing higher stakes can be a powerful way to increase your dollars per hand, it is important to be a winning player at those stakes. You do not want to be satisfied simply playing at the higher stakes, you want to be effective at them, which starts with continuous study and practice.
Learning To Multi-Table Online Cash Games
Not everyone has the same ability when it comes to multi-tabling. If you a beginner poker player, playing well at one table can be challenging enough, let alone playing well at 16 tables simultaneously! Do not be discouraged if multi-tabling is a challenge for you, as it is a skill that can be learned through practice.
Start with two tables, and eventually add an additional table once you are comfortable. You will see that going from two tables to four is not that dramatic of an adjustment. Even if you max out at four tables, that is still 500 hands an hour on average. No one is expecting you to go from one table to eight, if you continue practicing and add additional tables as you get more comfortable, you will eventually find your sweet spot.
Playing Enough Hours Of Online Cash Games
It is no secret that if you want to win significant money playing poker online, you must commit a lot of hours to playing and studying poker. Even if you have the time to play poker, you also need the time to study and improve at it as well. To make six figures a year playing poker, you must treat it like a job, or at the very least a serious hobby you can allocate time towards.
If you are satisfied with earning an extra $10,000-$20,000 a year playing poker, you do not need to worry about hitting session and earning quotas. When committing yourself to poker, it is important you know what exactly you want to get out of the game. While some people dream of playing poker full-time and are willing to commit the majority of their time to it, there are others who enjoy it as a simple hobby and use it to relax and have fun. Take into account why you play poker, solidify what your goals are, and take the lessons from this article to map out your game plan.