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Playing poker for living

  1. Jun 22, 2010 #1
    I am deciding on whether to play poker for a living. I have classes from Mon to Thurs, so I'll most likely be playing Thurs to Sunday (half day on Thurs maybe). I'll play live poker in a casino which is located 30-45min shuttle ride. Shuttle is free, plus I'll be bringing my own meals so the overhead cost is almost non-existent and I will keep the tips to minimum. Half the players that play live seem to be weak. Other half seem to have some fundamental knowledge about poker. Field is very different in online poker.

    Do I have a sound, tested, 100% reliable plan? No. What I'll do is play ABC poker: tight and aggressive. When thinking opponent adjusts and starts to play loose and passive on me, I'll switch gears and adjust accordingly. Other than that I'll play the players and most importantly I'll work relentlessly to build tight and aggressive image.

    Aiming for 100-150/day.

    Any input from physicsforums community is appreciated
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 22, 2010 #2
    I hope you like grinding it out. It will start to SUCK very quickly. Youtube all the pros on the grind - they all can't stand it anymore. Do you really want to play 12-14 hours to make cash, day in and day out. It's not a nice lifestyle.
  4. Jun 22, 2010 #3
    Why don't you just drop out and do that full time if that's what you want to do for a living :). I hope you meant to support your education.
  5. Jun 23, 2010 #4
    This. More or less.

    Its possible to make your quota quickly but it will not always happen. I have had it happen frequently that I play for hours and only get a few decent hands and even those will not pan out. Playing in tourneys in particular I have many times found myself only recouping the chips I was paying to stay in by stealing blinds here and there.

    Personally I would suggest online poker. You can sit down to it at any time and walk away from it rather easily. You can switch up tables in a matter of seconds or just take a break and come back when ever you feel like it. You will find far fewer people who know what they are doing but you will also wind up with a lot of crazies who go all in on weak hands and win. I suppose it is also harder to read your opponents.
  6. Jun 23, 2010 #5

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  7. Jun 23, 2010 #6


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    If you've taken the Myers-Briggs personality test and are an INTJ or INTP, you might have a career as a poker player. (If you can pull yourself away from your computer - INTJs and INTPs are the two rarest personality types, except on internet forums where they seem to be very common.)

    And, if you're one of those people that tend to be detached from your own feelings, you might have a career as a poker player. (Hmmm, I wonder if that's the reason for the saying, "Lucky in cards, unlucky in love".)
  8. Jun 23, 2010 #7
    Here's another thing to think about:

    1) How many actual times have you played poker for cash? (no estimating-keep track)

    2) Of those times, how many times have you made 100-150? (have a separate fund, are you over all in the red or black)

    3) How many times have you lost money?
  9. Jun 23, 2010 #8
    I don't know about the win rates live, but keep in mind that you see far fewer hands live than online. The best forum to ask this question (and one they get all the time) is the 2+2 forum.

    http://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/27/brick-mortar/ is their "Brick and Mortar" forum.

    That's not the best way to look at it. The best way to look at it is to consider a large number of hours played and see how much you're up (or down). Then, divide by the number of hours to give yourself an hourly rate.

    If you just do it pass/fail, where $100+ is a success and under $0 is a failure, you fail to take into account variance properly. For example, if I play 10 sessions, 8 hours long each, break even 9 times, and end up $1000 in the green once, your count may say "you only hit your goal once." However, averaged out, he is making $100 a day.

    Keep in mind, though, 80 hours is not a long enough time to get a good win rate. In live poker, you might only see 20-30 hands an hour. Lets average that out to 25. In 80 hours, you only see 2,000 hands. Online, I can play 2,000 hands in a day. That's 4 hours of work. I've had stretches of 2000 hands where I made a ton of money, and I've had stretches of 2000 where I've lost a ton. To nail down a good win rate, you'll need 10x that number of hands.

    Now, if you are genuinely pretty good at poker, I'm sure you'll crush the lower limits, but there is less money at the lower limits. You might beat it by 10 big blinds every 100 hands (which would be difficult online), but if you're only playing $1/$2 blinds, that's $20 dollars every 4 hours. You'd need to play 20 hours a day to hit your goal.

    Anyway, check out the 2+2 forums that I linked to. There is more detail there.
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2010
  10. Jun 23, 2010 #9
    Doesn't seem very reliable, unless you're extremely good. Also seems like it could be really stressful.
  11. Jun 23, 2010 #10
    Funny, I've always gotten either INTJ or INTP whenever I did Myers-Briggs tests. Don't some people even consider them DISORDERS?

    Also, professional poker playing strikes me as stunningly anticonstructive. How about you do something productive instead?
  12. Jun 23, 2010 #11
    Play online sit n goes small ones, really small ones. Play multiple at a time...
  13. Jun 23, 2010 #12
    This isn't really true, playing no-limit hold 'em 1/2$ blinds are actually pretty big. In order to play at that level you SHOULD have at least 600$ bankroll, and that's a minimum. If you are good you should be able to move up blind levels quickly per 100 hands. I'd say after around 1000 hands or so you should have built up a decent bankroll.

    You will make a lot more than 20$ in 4 hours, if that's all you make then just quit poker. I can make 20$ every 4 hours at the penny blinds.

    ++ As well variance is probably one of the most important things about poker to learn, especially online poker. Just because you win an entire tournament doesn't mean you are a great player. It matters how low of a variance you can get too. On the flip side, just because you are losing a lot doesn't mean you are a bad player. It's just 'bad luck'. To get a low amount of variance is a great way to start to build a steady bankroll.
    The definite most important thing to learn before playing any type of poker is odds. You have to be able to calculate pot odds, direct and implied right there at the table in your head. You have to know before action comes to you what you're going to do in every situation and whether or not it would be worth it. Reading your opponents isn't so important in poker, I mean sometimes it's useful to be able to do so you can get out of a situation that will just cost you.

    In my opinion you shouldn't be setting out to play 'tight or aggressive' you should play the hand how it comes. I would suggest playing small-ball to start off.
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2010
  14. Jun 23, 2010 #13
    Going pro at a casino is hard because rakes tend to be high at brick and mortar. You have to be much better than everyone else and even then the margin tends to be small, so you will have to play higher limits to make a decent wage. I forget what lower level pros play at casinos, but I imagine either $10/$20, $15/$30, or maybe $5/$10 at a minimum. At $10/$20 your buyin will be around $2000 and your bankroll should be around ~$15,000. Can you afford to lose $15,000 in poker? Keep in mind the skill level goes up exponentially as you step up limits.

    To determine whether you are ready for a particular limit you need to look at a large volume of hands. Jack said that he has gone on 2000 hand swings, but I have seen online pros complain about 50,000 hand downswings. 50,000 hands is a blip to online pros playing like 100,000+ hands a month though. I think 25,000 hands is a good number to look at when evaluating whether or not you can beat a certain limit.

    Remember, poker is not like chess. A good chess player might beat a bad chess player 98% of the time. A good poker player might beat a bad poker player 55% of the time. Factor in rake and well.. you are either losing, breaking even, or barely making a wage.
  15. Jun 23, 2010 #14
    Poker is trendy right now. And anyone you talk to who plays online wins more often than they lose. Apparently everyone is winning and no one is losing.
  16. Jun 23, 2010 #15
    Hardly, it's just that those people who win talk about it. People who lose don't have anything to go around bragging about, unless they think that's a feat. to be bragged about.

    On pokerstars I've gone from a freeroll and built my bankroll up to 100$, I've done this twice. It took about a week to do both times... I thought that was pretty cool, had I decided to continue building my bank I probably could have made it up to 1000$ but it would have taken too long for me because I can't sit at multiple sit n goes, we're talking like 40 tables at a time.

    @Bishop, I think that if you are a good poker player you will overcome the bad players more like 90% of the time. Just because you lose some pots to them doesn't mean anything, it's about making them bust. A good poker player will bust a bad poker playing quite frequently... not comparable to chess but it's far from 50/50. You're making it seem like it's all luck and no skill.
  17. Jun 23, 2010 #16
    Or some of those people are lying.

    With the way some people talk, they could be making a good living from playing poker. I think there's very few people actually doing that.
    There must be skill, but I don't get it. How do you read people? A person will get a good hand, bet a lot and sit there like a gargoyle the entire time. Then they'll get a bad hand, bet a lot and still be sitting there like a gargoyle. Unless you have them hooked up to an EKG, there's nothing to read.
    But if you're online, I guess you don't have to worry about any of that. What is there to read?
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2010
  18. Jun 23, 2010 #17
    It's not that poker is "all luck and no skill", it's that a large amount of skill is required to offset the effects of luck. I don't want to argue too much about % w/l in a headsup match but I'm pretty sure I could do better than 90% against a player a bit better than me just by going all in randomly every 1-4 hands. At the limits that are required to play pro, you won't find many bad players. You will find "ok" players, good players, and really good players. As a really good player you will be playing other really good players, other good players, and other "ok" players. Coupled with the rake, your margin becomes somewhat small and it requires you to grind out long hours at high limits to make a good wage.
  19. Jun 23, 2010 #18
    There are many common reads in poker. For example many people who get really a good hand start to stare into space, around the room, and pretend to not pay attention. It's like "yup nothin to see here, I'm bored and I'm definitly not holding a monster". Another common read is the person who puts (or slams) a bet down and then stares into your soul not blinking an eye like "yeah I have a really good hand here".. of course that person is bluffing. Then theres the people who do those things on purpose when they have the reverse. It's about observing the person over time and trying to predict his pattern of behavior/play. The most common thing I see is the person who picks up good cards and his hands shake (with anxiety, excitement, etc) whenever he makes his bet. Almost always a sign of someone who doesn't have much experience playing live.

    Reading people on the internet is much harder, but the theres just as many things to see as in live. Online theres always the person who minimum raises you preflop and its like "yeah this is a weak minimum raise, dont worry about it" whenever he's holding AA. Then theres the person who minimum raises late in a tournament when the blinds are a high % of your chipstack which surely says "I really need these blinds, but I'm too afraid to commit a significant portion of my chips with this hand". If you play online the key is to focus on the game and not space out, watch tv, etc. You need to try to observe, and take notes on betting patterns.
  20. Jun 23, 2010 #19
    I realize some people can develop patterns, but then there's the gargoyle people who do absolutely nothing different if they have 7 high or if they have a royal flush.

    Those tells you named seem like amateur mistakes.
  21. Jun 23, 2010 #20
    They are amateurish, but it's what you expect to see at any amateur poker game. There are other more subtle tells. The person who bets then glances at the pot/your chipstack has a strong hand. The person who eagerly looks at the next card to come has a draw. The person who makes a subtle sigh or "tsuh" (tongue and top of mouth) sound has a strong hand. The person who rechecks his hand after the next card may have forgotton his suits (a person typically doesn't forget his suits if he is playing suited cards). The person who bets and rests his hand on his cheek/mouth could be bluffing.

    It is pretty hard to contain all of your emotions when you know therse a whole table of people staring at you trying to figure out why you just bet what you did. The ability to control all of your emotions is a skill that takes a lot of time at the poker table. The gargoyle person you describe is probably pretty experienced. I think at the professional level (pros vs pros) there are probably very little "physical reads" and a lot more "playstyle reads" (i.e. "Everytime person A calls the blinds in early position preflop then check raises the flop has a set", or "Person A missed his flop whenever he makes a continuation bet of 80% of the pot after raising in early position")
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