They usually come from people who are new to online poker. I often reply with something along the lines of it depends on your skill level, the stakes and the volume that you put in. It is totally impossible for me to answer this question without this information.
Also, I take the time to remind them (or perhaps inform) that they are thinking about the game all wrong. Poker is not like a regular job where if you show up for X amount of hours you get paid X amount of money. Most people lose in the long run in this game in fact. In other words they go to "work" and their paycheck is a negative amount.
Show Me The Money!
Anyways, while these types of questions do seem really silly to me, I have gotten enough of them by now to know that people want to know about win rates no matter what. So let's get into it! Now the question always gets phrased to me as "what is possible." So let's start there.
In my opinion the top 5-10% of the entire player pool are the ones who are the long term big winners. These are the guys who are doing "what is possible." So that is who I am speaking about below. Also, I will be assuming that they are religiously game selecting (both table selection and seat selection) when they have the time for it. Elite players tend to always be doing this anyways.
Now of course the big thing with game selection is that when you are playing 18 tables at once you simply do not have anywhere near as much time to pay attention to it as someone who is 6 tabling for instance. The same goes for the quality of your actual poker decisions. This will drastically affect your potential win rate. So I will break down the win rates below into three different volume categories.
Lastly, what follows is just my opinion from playing at all levels of the micros and small stakes for many, many years. If you fail to achieve these numbers (or have already surpassed them) please don't send me hate mail!
Top win rates possible for elite players who play 1-8 tables.
Top win rates possible for elite players who play 9-17 tables.
Top win rates possible for elite players who play 18+ tables.
So there you have it! You can multiply these amounts by your projected daily volume to find out what the best possible average earnings per day are at your limit. You can also multiply them by your average hourly volume in order to find out what the best possible average hourly is at your limit. This is all pre-rakeback of course as well which can add up to thousands of dollars per month for high volume players at NL25 and higher.
Edit: You don't even have to bother doing the math yourself anymore. There is now a follow-up article for this blog post entitled "How Much Do Poker Players Make?" where I actually break down all of these win rates into dollar amounts, hourly, monthly and yearly with rakeback added in. Please make sure to finish this article first though because there is important information to come :)
The Let Down
Alright, let's inject some reality into this conversation now. The average win rate and daily earnings of a random person just getting started in online poker are both in fact negative numbers. Many people get caught up in the spell of the dream poker lifestyle. They have seen the millions being tossed around on TV and they figure that since they dominate their buddies every Friday night or have been "killing it" at the local 1/2 game for an inconsequential amount of hands that online poker is going to be a piece of cake.
The vast majority of them find out the hard way that it doesn't quite work like that. Let me now list the win rates that are much more common for these stakes. Keep in mind that at least 3/4 of people who play poker actually lose in the long run. So these numbers represent the average win rate that a winning player (only 1/4 of the player pool) can expect to attain at the various stakes.
Average win rates for 1-8 tables.
Average win rates for 9-17 tables.
Average win rates for 18+ tables.
You can pull out your calculator again and multiply these numbers by your projected daily volume and hourly volume in order to get your daily and hourly earnings. I hope this article proves valuable to all of the financial planners out there who want to know exactly how much they are going to make before they even get started!
Unfortunately though, poker doesn't actually work this way.
Your time would be much better spent simply forgetting about all of your future riches for now and instead focusing on playing as much as you can and working hard on your game away from the tables. You should aim to develop the work ethic, discipline, emotional control and dedication to continued learning that are all necessary for long term success in this game.
I am not here to encourage the dreamers who send me these emails asking about how much they are going to make. These are the people who are often doomed to fail in poker because they are thinking about the game completely wrong.
I am here however to encourage realistic people with the hunger to learn and improve to go pursue their passion for this game. People with no ego who want to earn it like the guy who I interviewed in my last post. It's fine to have big dreams in this game but put that aside for now. It is time to get to work. The money will follow.
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