Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Playing Online Poker for a Living

Forgive the shameless self-promotion, but I wrote this piece a while back for, my website that aims to help you profit from playing poker online.

In many ways playing poker online for a living really is one of the best jobs going:

1. I have no Boss.
No one to tell me what to do, no one to increase my workload because others are incompetent, no one to suck up to just because they've been at the company longer than me so they're 'in charge'. As you can probably tell, I don't like bosses. Never have, never will.

2. I work when I want.
No getting up at 6.30am to make it to the office on time. If I want a day off I take a day off; if I want a week off I take a week off. I have no boss, I can do what the hell I like.

3. I don't pay tax on my winnings.
I'm from the UK, this means my income from playing poker is tax-free. Up-Yours Gordon Brown! (He's the money-man in the UK, Tony Blair's right hand man for those who don't know). For many of you outside the UK this isn't the case, your profits are fully taxable by law. Make sure you are fully informed about your tax obligations with regards to professional gambling*.

4. I can work anywhere in the world.
Have laptop: will travel! Good invention this internet thing isn't it?! I have travelled a lot over the past two and half years, lucky me gets to go to South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, USA and Canada to name but a few. At the time of writing I'm in Buenos Aires. If you have the desire to see the world, playing poker online really does fit the lifestyle like a glove. An added bonus here is that you'll be earning in US dollars (GBPs or Euros too) if you choose to live anywhere where this currency is stronger than the local currency you'll feel that much richer!

5. I enjoy what I do.
Hold 'Em is a great game, it's always throwing up new situations, a new set of challenges to overcome and new opportunities to learn. Even after over five years of playing I still enjoy sitting at a poker table. More so now than ever in fact. Sure, there are times when I don't enjoy playing, I'd rather be out socialising with the 'regular 9-5ers' but I can honestly say that after all this time I still have a passion for the game. It's not such a bad way to meet people too. I've forged several strong links with fellow online players from all over the world. We have a common interest, we're bound to get along!

Convinced? Thinking of how you'll be telling your boss what you really think of him, or her, as you hand over your letter of resignation? Wait just a minute, life as a full-time poker player isn't all a bed of roses I'm afraid, playing for a living isn't for everyone. Read on and I'll tell you why.

1. Say goodbye to most weekends and evenings.
In fact, if you're in the UK you might as well become nocturnal. The truth is it's much easier to find profitable games during the night and at weekends. This is when a lot of casual players will sit down for an hour or two, many seem to just hate their money and are eager to give it away. Even the biggest poker room online has far fewer, and far tighter, tables during the US day time than during the evenings.

2. Your income is unstable.
Even the best players experience long losing streaks, it's unavoidable. These streaks can last weeks, or even over a month in extreme cases. It's entirely possible you'll play near-perfect poker for a week yet still end up losing money. Not only do you need the bankroll to withstand this you also need the temperament to cope with these swings of fortune, they do happen and it's not fun when they do. It's important therefore to keep your living expenses separate from your bankroll, this helps ease the pressure when the fish are feeding on you. Stick to your solid game and you will experience the correction in fortune. Poker is a game of skill, in the long-term luck plays no part in your profits. Providing you are adequately bankrolled you will win back any loses, in fact you'll win even more.

3. Dear Mr Bank Manager, I would like a loan to buy my dream house/car/holiday/bride. I am a professional poker player and my annual income is $(insert crazy figure here!).
See how your lender reacts to that! You won't convince too many people to lend you any money if they find out what you do. If you'll be needing to borrow money to make a significant purchase in the near future think long and hard. Personally this is no problem for me. I don't believe in debt. If/when I chose to buy a house I will be paying cash. For advice on securing loans for pro-gamblers seek a qualified Independent Financial Advisor.

There's a lot to consider if you're thinking of relying on poker for your source of income. Without doubt the wisest way to proceed is to keep your steady job; play poker as your hobby at first, it's probably best if you give it at least one year. I played for 4yrs part-time before quitting the day job. Perhaps you can only manage 10hrs play a week? Over the weeks and months you will learn advanced skills that will increase your profits significantly. At the same time you'll still have the security of a regular salary.

*US residents read for information on declaring gambling income.

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