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Bankroll and Life Advice

I've regged poker at my local casino since I was 18, I've never kept a true hourly but I am overall a winning player at 1-2 / 1-3. I have played about 20 hours of 2-5. I'm currently the age of 23, and attending school for my degree. I worked an IT job, that received budget cuts from the new year and I'm currently unemployed. I have very little expenses, I have to pay for some school expenses, insurance, and my car payment. I live with my parents and have little to no debt ( I was in a bad spot 3 years ago ). I won't lie, I was a degen and leaked a good amount of money to BJ and I've finally gotten a hold of that issue.

My questions are my job use to pay $15/hr and my take home after taxes was about $450.00 a week. With attending school, I've been open with my parents about my thoughts about poker, and my past issues with BlackJack. Would it be a stupid idea to take my tax refunds this year, plus a little of my savings to take a bankroll of 3-5k and try to play 1-2 for about a years time full time and see how I do?

Im privileged enough to not be paying rent at the moment, but my parents said they would like to help me bankroll, and break down my expenses, hourly, and winnings over the next few months to see if its viable while going through school.

What do you guys think, is it worth the shot? I don't need to be living lavish, and I know budgeting and bank roll management is going to massive in micro stakes, but maybe it could lead to more or just for now some sort of income ( unstable yes ) but a life experience non the less.

Understanding, I can just get a coffee job while in school is understandable I'm just curious on what the general thought is with people with a lot more life experience in this field thinks.

Thank you for your ideas and suggestions.

Comments

  • GarlandGarland Posts: 516Subscriber
    Here are my thoughts:
    - Take close records of your wins and losses. Download an app. Without knowing how winning a player you are (how many $ won in how many hours), it's hard to give much good advice. That said, if you are a decent winning player, you should at least be able to make up that $15/hr you lost from your IT job. I would personally rather play poker than take a coffee job.
    - In general, you should have at 20 buy-ins in your bankroll. Assuming 1/3 is your primary game and $300 is the max buy-in, that would mean you should have at least a $6000 bankroll.
    - General rule of thumb is keep at least 6 months of living expenses as a "life roll", which is completely separate from your bankroll. Fortunately, you don't have to pay rent, which is often the biggest factor.
    - If you are serious, you should be trying to "graduate" to 2/5 due to rake considerations. However, don't be afraid to move down if necessary.
    - It's good you don't need to be living lavish. It can be very tempting to splurge when you make a big score.
    - Post hands! I see you have been on this site for over a year and only posted a couple of hands. Doing reviews and soliciting advice is one of the best ways to improve.
    - You are very lucky to have parents who are open to you playing poker at least as a "semi-pro" and help you figure things out. Sounds like you have a good support system.
  • crux Posts: 119Subscriber
    Good on you for being honest with your family, and recognizing the overall privilege you have to have the opportunity to consider pursuing poker full-time.

    In my opinion, as a rec/reg that works and plays, having $3-5k as a starting bankroll without any additional income is not enough to comfortably go after poker full time even at $1/2. I think there also needs to be some serious consideration given your past tendencies to if relying on gambling full-time is going to be a healthy choice at this point in your life. It's important to consider life balance. You admit some degen tendencies, which can manifest in a lot worse ways than aimlessly throwing money away at blackjack. Last thing you want to do at 23 is get yourself into a mental hole you'll be fighting out of until you're 40. Maintain hobbies, maintain friendships outside of poker.

    My recommendation would be to look for some part time work that provides income for your regular expenses (phone, car, gas, food, maybe pay your parents some rent or save for a place, etc), but allows you to dedicate some serious time on the felt. Bartending/serving maybe, casino dealer (I know nothing about this as a job, just a thought), or something else that could potentially provide another $1000+ per month to help stabilize in case of bankroll wreckage. I would at least do this for six months to a year while you diligently track your sessions and get a true idea of your win-rate and potential ROI before going full-monty.

    If you're going to be considering this as your job, that means considering how you will be paying your taxes, also. That is an area I know little-to-nothing about, but my assumption would be that your take-home from poker would need to be nearly double your take home from a job to allow you living expenses and an ability to pay uncle sam, while still growing a bankroll.

    I don't see a lot of outside link-sharing here, so sorry if this is a bit uncouth, but I think this blog post by Jonathan Little is a really good read on bankroll considerations: https://jonathanlittlepoker.com/bankroll/
    If you haven't read it, I suggest doing so.
  • LatvianMissile Posts: 290Subscriber
    Yes, you can take a shot at it. The big consideration is that you're living with your parents. You're going to have to live cheaply and if your monthly expenses are less than 2K/mo you could be able to do it. The lower the monthly expenses are (and with no rent that should save a bunch) the more likely you can try it out. Keep in mind, you need to build a savings account, too and put money in there every month.

    You're going to have to work hard it to make it work. Study, post hands, comment on hands and be honest at how you're doing.

    One consideration should be how much savings do you have? You probably need 8 months saved up with such a small bankroll because when you're playing at the low stakes it's just going to be hard to build a bankroll and you should try to move up as soon as possible.

    I would recommend just getting a part time job like being a waiter and then playing poker 20-30 hours a week starting out so you have a base income and can grow your bankroll faster.
  • Superfly Posts: 590Subscriber
    My advice is - whether you go for it or not - do NOT let poker interfere with your studies. You are likely to make much more money and be happier In life getting a good education and meaningful job than simply sleepwalking through college because you’re spending too much time playing poker. If you have any doubts that you can maintain the proper balance, I would recommend treating poker as an occasional hobby and not trying to turn it into a source of income.
  • Daddyslap Posts: 110Subscriber
    If your expenses are covered, then your bankroll is good enough to get started. But if you maintain expenses and don't have any additional income, I would not advise this. Your life roll and your bankroll needs to be completely separate, and you should not be relying on a winning session to pay your bills.

    You mention you are an overall winning player - Without tracking, this is an empty statement. Get yourself a good app to track your winnings and losses. I've been using poker income bankroll tracker, but support for it has ceased and I'm unable to export my info from there, so I'll be getting a new one shortly.

    Another cause for concern is your Black Jack habits - If you are looking to earn an income from poker, then you can't play Black Jack. These are two different games, one of which can be beaten in the long term and one where you are losing long term every time to put money down. It's apples and submarines, and you must demonstrate discipline and patience to be successful long-term.

    If you are certain this is the route you want to go, I'd suggest getting a part time job to help with positive cash flow. You are going to run cold or bad even if you are playing well, so having a buffer income helps.
  • CycleV Posts: 1,195Subscriber
    Superfly said:
    My advice is - whether you go for it or not - do NOT let poker interfere with your studies. You are likely to make much more money and be happier In life getting a good education and meaningful job than simply sleepwalking through college because you’re spending too much time playing poker. If you have any doubts that you can maintain the proper balance, I would recommend treating poker as an occasional hobby and not trying to turn it into a source of income.
    I would give this specific advice a lot of thought. Can you envision a path through school to 5 years down the road, and what is a reasonable expectation for your income in your chosen field? If you can reasonably and honestly expect a good living (which is completely dependent on where you live) outside of poker, that that should be your focus. In 5 years time you may very well still be grinding out around 50K a year at poker (about $30/hour, acknowledging that it is extremely difficult to play poker 2000 hours a year). Compare that to a career where you may make more that 50K by the time you're 30, with health benefits, pension, and stability added on top.

    Between you, your parents, and any career counselors at school, you should be able to put pen to paper and come up with some realistic scenarios, and I'm going to guess that most of them make more money than poker.

    This does not mean you can't keep it up with poker. Playing poker as a side gig could easily pay better than a coffee shop job. You should treat it like a real job, though. 12 hours of felt time on a schedule (and this will have to include at least one of Fri/Sat night if not both), 6 hours of study time (watching Neeme does NOT count btw), and meticulous record keeping. Cuz as has been pointed out, everyone can say they are a winner but without the records you may just be another self-delusional dreamer. At 1/2 and 1/3 it's likely well over 75% of the players are net losers, but I'd bet 75% think they are winners. And 20 hours at 2/5 isn't even worth talking about, statistically speaking. Literally one card could flip your hourly by $50 an hour. That's not data you can rely on.

    There is some merit to listening to people who say to take a shot while you're young, but there is also merit to knowing poker ain't going anywhere. The pros I play with are grinding out roughly the same hour than I grind out at work, but they don't get bennies and 5 weeks paid vacation. And I get to top off my salary with over 10K a year in poker profit, with much less stress involved. "Living the dream" sounds sexy, but the long play is in school.

    (All this coming from a guy who at 24 quit his job and moved to a beach town in Spain to become the next Ernest Hemingway. Being a professional drunk and working at a bar under the table paid MUCH less than poker!)

    Keep us posted, and good luck!
  • pray4blank Posts: 141Subscriber
    Do you enjoy your current career field?

    If so, you're far better off continuing to pursue it than to pursue poker as a career.

    Let's just go financially speaking. Most parts of the country, the largest regularly spread game is 2/5 (and there are many places that don't even regularly spread this). People always argue a reasonable 2/5 win-rates is anywhere between 25-75 (depending on who you ask). You can almost guarantee actual long-term win-rates are much closer to the bottom than the top of this (Because if the highest report we have is in this $75 range, it almost certainly means that was a player running multiple standard deviations above the mean). so...let's say you're awesome, and can beat 2/5 for $40/hr. Giving driving time, table waiting time, tables changes, etc you're very unlikely to get more than about 1500 physical hours a year. 40*1500 = $60,000. This sounds like a good income, but when you consider you have to pay self-employment taxes, your own insurance, no employer matching retirement plan...it's probably equivalent to about $40,000-$45000 a year at a job.

    So what about long-term viability and growth? It would be hard to argue poker is going to become more profitable as time goes on. Table fees will go up and players will get better or quit. So, to believe you can continue to make similar income in future years, you'll need to believe your bankroll is going to grow and larger games are going to become more common. However, I think over the last decade we don't really see the average casino poker game becoming larger. When rake increases 20-30% more, that's going to eat into your profits, and that 60k gross may become 50k. But do you know what will go up? Salaries, cost of goods, and costs of rent/housing. With IT your potential income growth is very promising. AS your skills/experience increase, and wages continue to grow, you'll likely find yourself in a position that pays much more than poker within a few years.

    ...but...I mean, you're young. You can go play poker, if you feel you must, and you'll probably be back to IT at some time. And that's fine, as long as you're happy about getting the experience. As far as poker as a career...I think it's best suited for people who excel at poker but struggle having a normal job for some reason. And if you're one of those...well...ya...then poker might be recommended.
  • FuzzypupFuzzypup Posts: 2,550Subscriber
    I'll be the naysayer here and take it conservatively. If in 5 years you are still at 1/2 and just moved up to 2/5 you need to ask yourself if you are good enough. Did you dedicate yourself enough? Playing for a living isn't easy. From the moment I decided to play the game I took it very seriously investing in over 100 books, professional coaching and did a mountain of homework and I am still doing it. Shit I still buy books and bought one this week. I watch videos constantly from pros. I work the math. I buy the software. I practice online and play live. But I don't do it for a living. Too much stress.

    Next there is the mental fortitude needed, the personality needed, the family situation needed. So say for example you are doing fine and have a family and now you can't handle the stress. Or you can't handle bad beats well and tilt too much. One screwed up tilt call can wipe your hourly rate for the night. Many factors to consider. Realize that no matter what dreams are posted on the internet these are the exceptions rather than the rule. Most players exaggerate how well they do. It's human nature. If poker was easy to play for a living many people would be doing it.

    Next is the situation. You want to sit in a casino 40 hours a week in a chair?

    Poker is also incredibly mentally draining. If you know yourself well enough there are days you shouldnt be playing. Being young helps as your body is fine tuned but as you get older things affect you more.

    Next is the casinos. Is the competition bad enough? Are the stacks high enough? Is the rake low enough?

    Another question. Are toy crushing 1/2? Just my opinion but if you aren't beating 1/2 for $20 an hour, assuming a 100bb table, you shouldn't be moving up. You need to own that game where it is almost on automatic.

    Do you feel uncomfortable playing $500 on the table for 2/5? Are there good games?

    Ok so now to the stakes. if you are EXCEPTIONALLY good and take a long time playing at your casino getting to know the players, taking notes, with a decent rake structure with incredible skill and critical thinking ability you can make $100 a hour. I only know 1 person who does this and he has a 165 IQ, knows the math, and has read the books like I have. He is a close friend of mine. He also has the mental disposition. If you have no emotional issues about losing pots, are bright enough, put in the time, maybe you can hit $50 an hour. All this is assuming at least $500 stacks with a table full of bad players and the stacks grow as the session goes on. Most likely scenario you would be making $20-$25 an hour if you had a handle on things pretty good and did solid table selection with not too many short stacks which is very likely to happen. I know one pro that is absolutely terrible at the game. He is a nit that plays like a fish. Where I live he has to make $25 an hour just to live. His skill is incredible table selection.

    My suggestion is to keep your day job and play for recreation. it can be 20 hour a week. But don't have that stress of playing for a living over your head. While you do this invest the time like you do in college to learn more. If after you have your degree you are absolutely crushing the game then maybe give it a shot. But again do the homework, read the books, watch the videos, practice, do the math, read the poker tells. It is a lot of work. And if you don't LOVE poker don't play for a living. It will burn you out.

    There are a lot of external factors to playing for a living that you don't realize. Don't fall into the trap of the Dunning Kruger effect and think you know enough to make a living. I guarantee you don't. I know my own issues and set backs that prevent me from playing for a living. It is too stressful for me and dealing with my family. So I created a computer game company and play poker on the side. Works out well.

  • hustlin Posts: 362Subscriber
    Short answer . Hell No.

    I was exact same boat as you. However I did chose to poker route. Also 10 years ago poker was a lot more crazier than it is now.However looking back I did wish I would of finished school. I have 1 year post secondary.

    To make it poker it’s incredible difficult. I mean to play cards day in day out. It’s really draining. Believe me you don’t want to be playing 1/3 and doing that. I was lucky enough to be able to beat 2/5 back than so it made my decision a little easier. Still I 99% do not recommend you going pro. I’m pretty disciplined compared to my peers, no pit games , but got damn theirs temptation on every corner.

    There are many downsides of poker that are not obvious.
    All I can say is proceed with caution .
    Not for the faint of heart. Lots of ups and downs.

    I’m a poker pro , life is fairly good. I make a comfortable living ( no,nothing close to baller, thou I wish lol) . I still have to work hard thou, god damn ain’t easy lol. However there are some Downsides. I miss working with a team and having communication with your co workers, that was always fun . But their is amazing amount of freedom, which i am very grateful for.

    My advice finish school get a degree. Do a full time job and do poker on the side. Treat it as a hobby. This is the best set up I can think of.

    I personally wish someone told me that 10 years ago hahaha!
    Well they did but I just didn’t listen.
  • NickEarns Posts: 27Subscriber
    edited February 5
    Thank you for all the responses! I just would like to clarify a few things, that I don't think I explained correctly and I apologize. The stakes would mostly be 1-2/ 200 cap, my local casino does get 1-3 running, but I wouldn't touch it until improving bank roll.

    I worked in the IT field but it was an entry level job, thus $15/hr and my degree is Finance, and Accounting so I will not be going into the IT field.

    My main goals to be frank is to play poker and over a large sample size being able to win 7.5+ BB per hour in 1-2 ( obviously more and moving up would be nice, this is just my main goal if I did this for now ). Even though this would main source of income, school would be priority, I have 0 thought of ever making poker my life goal, and or life path. My main idea was to hitting the books a bit more, study ( Andrew Neeme counts common, jk ) and seeing how a 6 month trial period would be. After graduation, I will 100% going into the field of my degree, I hear to many horror storys of trying to make it pro, again thats not a thought even in my head, I was just trying to see if I would be able to be in the 25% of players able to make some money in a 1-2/ 1-3.

    I appreciate all of your feedback, I've sat down with my mother specifically and spoken to her about all of your comments and feedback from all your experiences.
  • FuzzypupFuzzypup Posts: 2,550Subscriber
    Then that's a good plan. I read this after I replied to your PM. You seem to have a nice structured way to approach this so you make extra money and enjoy it.
  • justfourfun Posts: 200Subscriber
    Interesting thread. I have had a successful career doing a few different things over the years and I consider playing poker one of the things I have done for profit. However, I have never played more than 500 hours of poker in one year. When I play poker I am really focused and I put forth 100% of my effort. Doing this for 500 hours in one year is a ton of work and playing poker can be really draining. I can’t imagine playing over 1000 hours in one year. No thanks!

    Poker will teach you valuable tools that you must use on the felt, these same skills are also very valuable in the business world. Playing poker involves strategy. To play well you must keep your emotions in check, and you must stay calm under pressure, and think clearly when under pressure. You must do risk/reward analysis, you must learn to not let the highs of winning get too high nor allow the lows of losing get too low. Poker skills and business skills are similar. I think most good poker players would do well in a business setting. Poker can teach you skills way more valuable than a business degree. Yet, a business degree is vitally important too.

    I am not a fan of working a job for someone else. Figuring out a way to earn money without a job is difficult but a lot of people do it. Your life situation is allowing you an opportunity to forego a guaranteed income that a job offers, so I would not even consider getting a job if I were you. Think hard about what you are good at and do something with that skill. Most people need a job because they need the paycheck a job offers in order to pay pressing financial obligations. Luckily for you that is not an issue. Some people have jobs that pay incredible amounts of money. However, few jobs have the freedom that most people crave.

    Keep it simple and play poker for profit. Statements like: “I am now playing professionally” are unimportant, more important is how you react to winning and losing. Keep accurate track of your results and carefully analyze your results to try to determine if time spent on the felt is time well spent. The larger the sample size of hours played the more valuable the data. Whether you win or lose in the short term should not matter too much. If you lose too much you may be forced out. If you win too much you may lose your senses and think winning will continue uninterrupted. While it can be painful to lose your bankroll, I always say the least successful restauranteurs are those that barely hang on for five years and then fail. Better to fail fast and hard in six months and move on to the next attempt at success.

    I once did nothing but develop real estate for ten years. I made enough money in those ten years to last a lifetime. But, real estate development is risky with lots of ups and downs. I would caution anyone against doing something as risky as real estate development as their sole source of income. Poker is three times as risky as real estate development. In real estate, a market crash can quickly wipe out a fortune. In poker, a downswing can do the same. My successful real estate developer friends used to joke that anyone that truly understood the downside risks of real estate development would get out of the business. No one made that joke after the crash of 2008 - too painful!

    Diversify and establish multiple income sources from different endeavors. You are young so two sources should be plenty. Play poker but also start a business that does not require much money to get up and running. Your small business may provide solace during a poker downswing.
  • hustlin Posts: 362Subscriber
    Yah this sounds like a great plan. As long as school/ career path is priority, 6 months to devote to poker is nothing.
    Yah I would totally do a 6 month trial period while in school/ or taking a break. and just see how it goes, good for curiosity sake.
    NickEarns said:
    Thank you for all the responses! I just would like to clarify a few things, that I don't think I explained correctly and I apologize. The stakes would mostly be 1-2/ 200 cap, my local casino does get 1-3 running, but I wouldn't touch it until improving bank roll.

    I worked in the IT field but it was an entry level job, thus $15/hr and my degree is Finance, and Accounting so I will not be going into the IT field.

    My main goals to be frank is to play poker and over a large sample size being able to win 7.5+ BB per hour in 1-2 ( obviously more and moving up would be nice, this is just my main goal if I did this for now ). Even though this would main source of income, school would be priority, I have 0 thought of ever making poker my life goal, and or life path. My main idea was to hitting the books a bit more, study ( Andrew Neeme counts common, jk ) and seeing how a 6 month trial period would be. After graduation, I will 100% going into the field of my degree, I hear to many horror storys of trying to make it pro, again thats not a thought even in my head, I was just trying to see if I would be able to be in the 25% of players able to make some money in a 1-2/ 1-3.

    I appreciate all of your feedback, I've sat down with my mother specifically and spoken to her about all of your comments and feedback from all your experiences.
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