It has been said that poker is the hardest way to make an easy living. The one thing we can say for sure is that its a lot harder to make a living at it in a state with limited options for plying your trade.
Poker For A Living Blog offerings. The change in law however only really extended the current licenses (all owned by the provinces) to online real money play. This has resulted in several government lotteries opening safe, regulated online casinos and Poker For A Living Blog poker rooms. Players can have a much higher sense of security knowing. There are many ways to make money on the web, and online poker is definitely a legitimate one to do it. In fact, there are thousands of professionals who play online poker on a daily basis and earn. A video poker machine with a 99.9% RTP may sound great when compared to a slot machine, but it’s going to lose money in the long-term. You have to find machines with a positive RTP of around 102% or higher to make enough profit to earn a living off of. All the figures above are very rough estimates. As they say, and no truer words were ever spoken about it, 'poker is a hard way to make an easy living.' Lastly, if you want to learn how to start consistently making $1000 per month in low stakes poker games, make sure you grab a copy of my free poker cheat sheet. Let me know in the comments what the professional poker lifestyle means to you.
That means if you want to play poker for a living you’re probably going to want to do it in a state with a lot of casinos or legal cardrooms. Playing in underground games every day may sound like a thrilling lifestyle. However, it’s a tough one to maintain when your bankroll is constantly under threat from local law enforcement and opportunistic thieves.
Essentially, what we’re saying is the best states to try to make a living playing poker are the ones with the most action. Legal, regulated and above board action – both in live poker rooms and, in some, a growing number of real-money online poker rooms.
Want to know where they are? Check out US Poker’s list of the five best states to make a living playing poker below:
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There’s no better place for a poker pro to call home than the state of Nevada. Probably because if you fall down just about anywhere inside the state, you’re a favorite to hit a poker room on the way to the ground.
In fact, there are more than 60 poker rooms operating across the state, which is probably six times more than the amount required to make a state a decent place to make a living playing poker.
Of course, the biggest and best action goes off on the Las Vegas Strip, where there are 18 different poker rooms hosting big-time cash game action and daily tournament schedules all within a few miles of one another.
The World Series of Poker
Big-time tournament action comes in the form of the annualWorld Series of Poker held in Las Vegas for six weeks every June and July. Thousands of poker players from all over the world descend upon Las Vegas for the events of the WSOP. However, it’s more than just the tournaments they come for. Cash game revenues at rooms across the state jump big time throughout the WSOP.
It’s a poker pro’s dream for six weeks. In fact, there’s so much poker money in Las Vegas during this time, whether they are playing cash games or tournaments, the WSOP can make or break a Nevada-based pro’s year.
The rest of the year brings a steady stream of big-time tournaments including regular World Poker Tour stops. Plus, as the gambling capital of the country, there’s always a good number of tourists filling the cash game tables from Las Vegas to Reno and Lake Tahoe.
There’s also legal and regulated online poker in Nevada. The action is heaviest at WSOP.com during the WSOP but more consistent year-round action is becoming the norm.
Regardless, Nevada is far and away the best state to make a living playing poker. The only issue might be that so many pros have moved there, the competition can be pretty stiff at times.
The casino business in Atlantic City has had its share of ups and downs over the years. However, the seaside resort town has long maintained its status as the home of poker on the East Coast. Casinos became legal in the late 1970s, but poker didn’t get the thumbs up from lawmakers until the summer of 1993.
The Trump Taj Mahal launched a 50-table poker room that year that immediately became the center of the poker universe. There were other rooms, but no one really emerged as real competition until the Tropicana opened up a 40-table poker room in 1998. It was a pretty fierce rivalry between the two.
The Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa
In fact, it was all about either the Taj or the Trop for poker players in AC until 2003, whenBorgata Hotel Casino & Spa opened up in the city’s marina district.
The Borgata opened with a modern 34-table poker room that immediately became market leaders. A big boom in poker’s popularity soon followed. Suddenly, Borgata established itself as the East Coast’s premier poker destination.
The property started hosting events on the burgeoning World Poker Tour right from the outset. Its WPT events are still breaking tour entry records on a regular basis.
In 2006, poker’s popularity peaked and Borgata underwent a $200 million expansion. The poker room was expanded to 85 tables and revenues kept on rising, even as the growth of the game slowed.
The Taj has since closed and poker at the Trop moved to a much smaller space. However, there are other poker rooms around Atlantic City with action, and certainly plenty of it at Borgata to this day.
When it comes to major tournaments, the WPT is still huge at Borgata and the property runs seasonal festivals that draw big numbers with or without the WPT’s name on the marquee. Plus, Harrah’s Atlantic City has emerged as a regular stop on the WSOP Circuit.
The state also opened up a legal and regulated NJ online poker market in 2013, with major operators like PokerStars, partypoker and 888poker opening shop to offer real-money games. New Jersey also sign on to share player pools with other states in 2017, so it should only grow from here.
Put it all together and New Jersey is clearly one of the best states to make a living playing poker.
Pennsylvania is one of the more recent entries into the casino gambling game. Slot machines were legalized in 2004. Table games, including poker, were legalized in 2010. Then, in just the first three years of full casino operations, Pennsylvania surpassed New Jersey as the country’s second most profitable gaming market.
There are now over a dozen casinos in Pennsylvania (including multiple PA online casinos) and 10 of them have poker rooms. In fact, poker has become quickly become a big part of what several casinos are doing to bring people in.
Parx Casino has long been the poker room revenue leader in the state. It had an 80-table poker room that hosted a ton of cash-game action, daily tournaments, and the popular Big Stax tournament series five times annually.
Now it has moved poker into a sleek and modern 48-table room inside the main building. Nothing about the amount of action at Parx should change, and to be honest, there’s probably enough of it at Parx alone to make PA one of the best states to make a living playing poker.
However, there’s more.
Sands Bethlehem’s 30-table poker room also hosts a big cash game scene and the somewhat regular DeepStack Extravaganza tournament series. Harrah’s Philadelphia has a room affiliated with the World Series of Poker, which means WSOP Main Event satellites.
Plus, The Poker Night in America Poker Room at SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia has all kinds of action and is affiliated with the “Poker Night in America” TV show, regularly hosting televised events.
The 30-table room at Rivers in Pittsburgh shares the same affiliation. Plus, the Pittsburgh-area’s Meadows Casino started hosting a Heartland Poker Tour stop in 2017.
Additionally, there’s a ton of great cash game promotions at the other smaller rooms across the state. Put that together with all the big time tournament action, plus the fact PA now has legal real-money online poker, (beginning with PokerStars PA and set to include partypoker PA, and more) and there’s little doubt Pennsylvania is the kind of place a pro can make a living now and for years to come.
There are more than 90 licensed card rooms that offer poker in California. They also offer player-banked versions of certain casino card games like blackjack. Additionally, there are somewhere around 60 Tribal casinos in the state, many of which host poker rooms.
Between the card rooms and Tribal casino poker rooms, there’s probably more action in California than there is in any other state across the country. The only thing that makes it a step below Nevada is most of that action is spread out across the state, instead of in one small area like Las Vegas.
Commerce and the Bike
However, the Los Angeles area does host two of the largest poker rooms in the world in the Bicycle Casino and Commerce Casino. The amount of cash game action in either of these cardrooms is enough for the average pro to make a sustainable living.
Plus, the World Poker Tour makes annual stops at both properties, if tournaments are where you’re looking to make big bank.
Getting lawmakers, cardrooms, Tribal casinos and potential California online poker sites to agree on what legal and regulated online poker should look like in California has proved difficult. In fact, after a decade discussing it, the state seems no closer to passing online poker legislation than when those discussions started.
However, there’s a lot of big-time live tournament and cash game action up and down the coast all year long. And that’s enough to make California one the best states to make a living playing poker.
It wasn’t that long ago that poker in Florida was limited to home games at seniors centers and not much else. The game spread to dog tracks and Jai alai frontons in 1997. However, a $10 maximum on all pots rendered the game unrecognizable by today’s standards. The laws changed a couple times in the early 2000s, but the betting limits, limits on the number of bets and a $100 maximum buy-in still didn’t make any sense.
Poker soon spread to the state’s first tribal casinos. However, except for a brief period of time where the tribes allowed multiple rebuys to skirt around the maximum buy-in laws, the poker scene in the Sunshine State remained small.
Most of the caps were removed in 2009 and Florida suddenly became a destination for poker.
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood
A big-time tournament scene emerged, particularly down south at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, which put up some major guarantees to attract players. There were overlays at first, but the Hard Rock in Hollywood now boasts some of the most well-attended tournament series in the country. The World Poker Tour and The World Series of Poker Circuit have even made it a regular stop.
The cash game scene has also thrived, from Jacksonville to Fort Lauderdale. Atlantic City and Las Vegas may have the market cornered on check-raising tourists. However, there’s no better place to get called down by a wealthy retiree who just had to see it than Florida.
Add it up and for pro players who want to play lucrative cash games year round and major tournaments on a regular basis, Florida has become one of the best states to make a living playing poker – even if it may be a year or two until legal online poker comes to FLA.
Honorable mention has to go to a state like New York. The New York poker scene used to be all about underground cash games in New York City and underage tournaments at Tribal casinos upstate. However, the state has seen four new commercial casinos open up over the past year and they all have poker action.
Connecticut deserves some love on this list as well. The rooms at Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun have enough cash game action to sustain the average pro and they host some big tournaments as well.
Finally, a shout out goes to the District of Columbia. Folks from the capital region used to have drive three hours or take the train to Atlantic City to play poker. Now, there’s an emerging poker scene including more than 100 tables at Maryland Live!, Horseshoe Baltimore, and the MGMjust outside of DC.
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Playing video poker can be a tremendous amount of fun. For many people, it’s a perfect balance between the regular card game and slot machines. But is it a viable way to earn money?
So, can you make a living playing video poker? Yes, you can make a living playing video poker. However, it’s not easy. A lot of practice and research is required. You also need to have a deep knowledge of which games payout a positive RTP (return to player), otherwise you’ll lose money.
In this article, we’ll discuss in-depth how you can turn yourself into a video poker pro.
Why video poker?
There are a few reasons why people love to play video poker. It’s a game that you can play on your own and looks like a slot but plays a lot differently. There are also some other important things to note about video poker.
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Easy to play
Video poker is easy to play, and you’ll likely understand the basics soon after sitting down at a machine. It doesn’t have the same intricacies of traditional poker, and you don’t have to worry about what other players are doing. That simply means you have little outside noise and can play hands very quickly.
It’s based on skill
Any game that’s not based on a level of skill is a long-term loser; roulette is a great example. Games that involve skill and strategy give you a much better chance of earning money once you’ve learned how to play them.
There are awesome jackpots
People love playing non-skill slot machines because of the prospect of winning a jackpot. This is especially true of progressive jackpots that grow as you play.
You get these jackpots in video poker without getting the terrible RTP that you get with some slot machines. That gives you the potential for great returns.
You’re playing solo
With regular card games, you get pit bosses looming over you, pushy dealers, and other players affecting your concentration and etiquette rules. With video poker, it’s just you vs. the machine, which appeals to a lot of people who don’t like the business of regular card games.
Why don’t you lose money?
Just to be clear: if you’re a terrible video poker player, you will lose money.
There are some key reasons, however, that you can avoid losing money with video poker when compared to other machines.
It’s the ability to make decisions based on logic that sets video poker apart from other games. With most slot machines and casino games like roulette, you simply make decisions based on randomness rather than a logical thought process, as there is no long-term winning strategy.
That need for logical decisions also makes video poker more stimulating, and you won’t ever fall into that zombie state of just putting coin after coin in a slot machine.
Video poker machines generally have a very high RTP or payback percentage. If a slot machine has an RTP of 95%, then that means over time a player will be expected only ever to win back 95 cents for every dollar they play – and that’s if it’s played perfectly.
That figure is crucial, as even a video poker machine with an RTP of 99.9% isn’t going to be profitable in the long term. You need to find machines that have an RTP of over 100% if you want to earn a living playing video poker.
Knowing the RTP
The biggest issue with slot machines is that you don’t know the odds of getting a particular symbol or combination of symbols. A cherry could come up once every 20 spins, whereas grapes would come up every 6 spins.
However, in poker, you already know the chances of any given card coming up, as there are only 52 cards in a deck. You also know the chance of getting a particular number or suit. The random number generators on video poker machines have to act as though they are using a real deck of cards.
The result of this is that you’re able to calculate your odds of winning on any given hand. You can then use this knowledge to see which machines pay a good RTP and ones which don’t. This means that if the RTP is 103%, then you’re guaranteed to win money in the long-term if you play a perfect game.
Knowing the math
Knowing math might not be all that exciting, but it’s crucial if you want to make a living playing video poker. You need to be able to know the RTP of a machine, and you also need to know the probability of the hand you’re playing if you want to make the right decision.
If you’re willing to put in the hours of research required, there are plenty of helpful resources out there for you to peruse. There are plenty of books on the subject, and also there are software programs where you will learn all about RTP and strategy. Here are a few of the best examples:
Best books for learning video poker
Best software programs for learning video poker
You don’t have to be some sort of genius to do this; you just have to invest some time in learning probabilities. The math isn’t complicated, but you need to know how to do it well and how to do it quickly.
Get ready to lose
If you want to get into a winning video poker mindset, you need to prepare yourself to lose.
What? That doesn’t make sense… right?
Actually, it does. Here’s why:
Say a friend makes a bet with you over the toss of a coin. You give him $1 if it’s head, and he gives you $10 if it’s tails. It’s a no-brainer bet. You’re getting 10X the potential winnings for a 50% probability.
However, your friend tosses 10 heads in a row, and you end up giving him $10 and walking away with nothing.
That’s an extreme example, but I think you get the point; as long as the odds are in your favor, you need to be willing to lose before you win.
The margins in video poker are much tighter than the above example. It’s just a reminder that even with the best odds and the best system, a lot of it will still come down to luck, and professional video poker players will have days where they make a loss.
The guaranteed winning isn’t over an hour, a week or a day; it’s over a long period of time.
This is why you need to stay calm if you’re losing money as you need to know that it’s not going to last forever. You’ll be winning eventually.
Walk before you can run
If you’ve not played much video poker before then, it’s time to put in the training and get comfortable with the math.
Jacks or Better is the simplest version of video poker and is a good introduction to it. I recommend playing that style before you move up to the more complicated games. Once you master that, then the more complicated video poker games will come easier.
With the margins being so tight, you need to be an expert before you can even think about making a living from playing video poker. Good Jacks or Better games will offer 9 to 1 payout on a full house with a 6 to 1 for a flush. These odds are often shortened to 9/6.
These machines often don’t have a positive RTP, but they are often close to 100%, making them a great training ground due to their simplicity. You also need to consider the volatility of the machine, which is very low in Jacks or Better.
A game with high volatility means that you’re waiting on low percentage hands for your winnings, and, therefore, most of the time, you are either winning small amounts or losing. If you don’t have enough bankroll, this can leave you without any money.
Simplify your strategy
Most video poker books will start you off with a fairly simple strategy that is quite easy to follow. You can get a list of hands that you’ll be able to reference and find out the correct decision to make. These often aren’t entirely accurate, but that’s because it’s simplified and easy to follow when you’re starting.
Want to jump straight into a complicated strategy? Don’t.
If you’re not confident with what you’re doing, then it’s going to be easy to make mistakes. As you build up your knowledge, you’re going to get better and be able to earn more.
Knowing the odds
You press deal on the machine, and you find that it lands on all spades of 4, 10, jack, queen, and king. You’ve got a flush!
This is called a ‘pat hand,’ which refers to anytime you’re dealt a hand that would be able to pay out straight away.
Most people would thank their lucky stars and hold all the cards for the win, as you have a 100% chance of the 6 to 1 payout, which is what you’ll typically find on most machines.
While that would be great, you are just one card away from getting a royal flush but with a chance of around 2%.
Faced with a choice of a 100% chance or a 2% chance, most people would opt for the former. That’s the right call… right?
Actually, no. Although the 2% chance of landing the royal flush is quite small, the payout for a royal flush is often 800 to 1. If you’re in it for the long haul, the odds would tell you to go for the 2% chance and try for the royal flush.
If it was for a dollar bet and you took the flush 100 times out of 100, you’d receive a payout of $600. (100 x $6 payout) but if you played for the royal flush, it’s a different story.
If you won the expected 2% of the time, you’d receive $1,600 (2 x $800 payout). Over the long run, you’d walk away with an extra $1,000, or triple the money you would have made otherwise.
It’s extremely important that you understand this. Even though you’d throw away a flush 98% of the time, your expected value is much higher by playing for the royal flush. By playing for the expected value here, you’d be losing a lot more often but winning nearly 3x as much when the cards finally come in.
The importance of bankroll
It’s time to focus on the importance of bankroll and volatility.
You have to have enough money to lose often and wait for the big wins. If you’re playing $5 bets and don’t hit it big 100 hands in a row, then you’re losing a lot of money pretty quickly. Professional video poker players play 1000’s of hands in a day, and you’ll have long losing streaks from time to time.
Due to this, a lot of players avoid placing large bets, preferring to play with bets as small as a quarter. This provides a lot less risk as if you have a losing streak; it’s a lot easier to cover. At the start, it’s a lot better to bet small.
The max bet on video poker machines with high RTP usually only goes as high as $2. Thi s is fine, as the daily rewards can still be quite good with a $2 max bet if you use the right strategy.
Different games = different strategy
Once you’ve mastered Jacks or Better, it would still be a mistake to think that you’re then set when it comes to strategy.
Each style of video poker will require its own strategy, and you’ll need to understand the complexities of the other versions before you start playing regularly. Even for the same game, there can be different strategies, such as the same game being ‘full pay’ or not.
The reality of video poker
If you think that mastering video poker is a great way to make your millions, then you’d be very wrong. The margins are far too slim to make a huge amount of money.
However, if you’re currently earning $25k a year and are looking for something better, video poker can a great way to earn more money.
With quarter bets (a safe amount until you have a high bankroll), you can expect to earn, on average, around 3.5 cents per hand.
If that sounds terrible, then you need to realize that a video poker master can play 1,000 hands per hour. That 3 cents then turns into $35 per hour, and if you play for 8 hours a day, that turns into $280 per day. Not too shabby for a day at the casino.
Say you play for 40 hours a week, which is the same as a standard job; you’d then be receiving $1,400 per week, which equates to $72,800 per year. The key here is that you have to play a lot to turn those small margins into significant revenue.
Finding the right machines
It can also be hard to find the right machines to play. Because it’s so easy with strategy and software now common, RTP-positive machines are rarer then they were during the 1990s when players had to work it all out themselves.
A video poker machine with a 99.9% RTP may sound great when compared to a slot machine, but it’s going to lose money in the long-term. You have to find machines with a positive RTP of around 102% or higher to make enough profit to earn a living off of.
All the figures above are very rough estimates. If you find a machine with a 100.7% return, then the returns are still going to be too low to make it worth your time. If you don’t live near an area that has sufficient machines, then you’re not going to be able to swing it.
These machines can also be very changeable. If a casino sees that they are losing money on a particular machine, they are going to be swapped out very quickly. There have to be enough losing players to disguise the winnings that professional players will get from the RTP-positive machines.
As we mentioned at the top of the page, you can make a living playing video poker.
However, you have to go into it with an open mind. If it were easy, then everyone would be doing it. You have to treat it like a real job, have enough bankroll, and become an expert in strategy.
In addition to this, you also need to research which machines will give you a positive RTP and where to find them. Professional players know this information like the back of their hand, but it can take years to develop that level of knowledge.
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If you’d like to try earning a living with video poker, I recommend reading some of the books mentioned earlier in the article and beginning your training with an online Jacks or Better simulator.
Once you feel confident in your abilities to calculate odds, you can move up to the more complex versions of video poker. After you master those, you can start trying to locate RTP-positive video poker machines and placing small bets on your way to earning a living with video poker.