How to Create a Good Side Income From Poker When You Have a Busy Life

Poker side income
Everybody is busy these days. Whether it is work, school, family, kids, social media there are a million different distractions these days. And this makes finding time to play poker and improve your game difficult.

In fact the very reason I am writing this article is because in a recent survey of over 1,000 poker players that I conducted for this website, you guys identified a lack of time as one of the single biggest things holding you back in poker.

But this doesn't mean that it is impossible.

In order to earn a good side income playing poker you have to be a lot more efficient with the time that you have available for playing poker and studying poker. You also need to remove all distractions and even find time to get in some poker study while at work or commuting to your job. It is definitely possible to make a good side income playing poker if you follow these tips.

So in this article I am going to break it down for you step by step so you can start earning a significant side income with poker even though you have a busy life.

1. Finding Time to Play Poker

The most important part of your development as a poker player is simply playing the game. Many people these days spend far too much time studying poker, talking about poker, watching poker and so on.

None of this is necessarily bad, and I will get to it all later, but if actually improving your skills and moving up the limits is a priority for you, then you have to understand that finding time to play the game is the most important thing you can do.

So my strategy while working a full time job in the past was to always find a chunk of time at the end of the day to play a bit of poker. It didn't matter if it was only 30 minutes, I play poker every single day. Absolutely no excuses.

After I had got home from work, went to the gym and finished eating dinner, I would immediately log on to whatever poker site I was playing on and put in a set number of hands.

How many hands you are probably asking though? Well that part is totally up to you and it depends on how many tables you play as well.

If you only play one table of online poker for example then perhaps you only have time to play 80 hands. A typical online 6-max table deals about 80 hands per hour.

That's fine! Heck, like I said before even if you only have 30 minutes to play, just do that. Play those 40 hands!

And obviously if you play 2, 4, 8, 12 or more tables you can multiply these hand targets considerably. Keep in mind also that a typical Zoom table will deal you closer to 200 hands an hour and a regular full ring table, around 60.

The bottom line is to be consistent and play at least some poker every single night even if you only have 30 minutes to play. This keeps you consistently thinking about the game and learning through your mistakes and successes.

I discuss this in more detail by the way in my latest YouTube video on making poker your side hustle.

2. Finding Time to Study Poker

Now studying poker is very important as well especially in the beginning. In fact I think at the very start of your poker career, you might want to devote as much as 50% of your total "poker time" to studying the game.

By studying poker I mean books, courses, discussing hands on forums, analyzing your play in a tracking program and so on. 

Here is my complete list of all the poker learning tools and resources that I recommend.

However, if you are strapped for time then I recommend that you just dedicate some time on the weekend for all of this instead. Most people have a little bit more time available on Saturday or Sunday.

If you only have 30 minutes available Monday-Friday, just use that time to play poker. On the weekends when you have more time is when you want to review the week's key hands and post a few of them on forums. You can also read a few chapters of that poker book, study a few poker course modules and so on.

And efficiency is once again the key here with poker study.

So for instance most poker books are written in sections/chapters, while courses are often spaced out into modules. For instance, my latest book The Micro Stakes Playbook has 21 core strategies or "plays" as I call them.

You should NOT try to read this book front to back in one sitting. Poker books (at least mine) are not written like novels. They aren't meant to be passively consumed or to entertain you.

As much as I would love to think I am the next Stephen King or John Grisham, sadly I am not. I write poker books solely to improve your results at the poker tables.

So if you were to study this book then I would recommend reading just one or two of the core strategies on the weekend and then make sure that you are implementing them immediately at the poker tables during the following week.

Because this is another problem that many people face when they try to improve their game. That is, they don't actually implement the strategies that they learned!

Or even if they do, they don't do it consistently. You have to provide time for basic variance to run it's course in poker. This can often require playing as many as 100k hands.

All of this applies as well for poker courses, hands that you discussed on forums, strategies you discussed with your coach, or any leaks in your game that you found in PokerTracker or Hold'em Manager.

If you don't actually apply the changes consistently at the poker tables then it defeats the purpose entirely.

By the way, I discuss this in much more detail in my new Elite Poker University training. 

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3. Remove All Distractions

Poker consistent side income

The next thing you need to do as a busy person with limited time for poker is remove all distractions whether you are playing or studying the game.

Again, even if it is only 30 minutes, this is your time to get better at poker and earn a side income from this game. You need to make that abundantly clear to everyone around you as well.

So the first thing I try to do is have a room dedicated to poker. You probably already have some sort of computer room or den at your house/apartment for this.

Make sure you are using that room and not trying to play or study poker in the living room with the TV on, the kids running around and so on.

The next thing that you need to do is turn off all of your devices. When I am playing poker or studying poker the ringer gets turned off on my phone. In fact sometimes I just put it right on airplane mode.

That text message can wait. You don't need to check Instagram, Reddit, Facebook and so on either. Make sure that you remove all distractions from your poker playing room.

The same goes for what you are looking at on your screen. When I am playing or studying poker I don't have any browsers or any other programs open. The sole exception would be music.

The bottom line is that as a busy person with a limited amount of time for poker you need to be as efficient as possible when you are playing or studying the game.

This is why one of my favorite "hacks" now is just to get up extremely early. I wake up at 6am every day and exercise right away.

Shortly after this is when I play poker, study poker or write about poker. I am writing this article right now at 7:37am.

This ensures that there are absolutely no distractions because everybody else is still sleeping. And nobody is texting me or commenting on my Instagram at 6am either!

It might take some getting used to at first since you obviously have to start going to bed earlier as well. But I can't really even begin to tell you how much getting up at the crack of dawn has changed my life for the better.

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4. Get Cheeky at Work

I think the Brits would call it getting cheeky by having a look at some poker stuff while you are at work. Because hey, let's face it, nobody actually works anymore!

I can't believe I just used the word "cheeky" out loud by the way.

Now if you are doing something extremely important like an air traffic controller or you are a scientist then perhaps you might NOT want to use this strategy.

But if you have a regular office job like a lot of people then you probably have at least an hour or two of idle time each day to be studying some poker material.

Once again, be efficient with your cheeky poker study at work! Don't waste your time reading some nonsense poker gossip on NVG or Reddit.

Post your hands on forums, comment on other people's hands or study a poker course/book instead. You could also check out a poker Twitch stream or any of the instructional poker videos that I put out on Youtube all the time.

Actually, I already know that people are using this "cheeky study poker at work" strategy because the highest traffic times for my website are always weekdays 9-5 when people are supposed to be, you know, working!

And I am just as guilty. My job prior to turning pro at poker was extremely boring sitting in front of a computer and answering the phone whenever it rang.

So I spent a lot of time improving my game during this time by reading the latest theory, watching videos, studying hands and so on. I even tried to play a cheeky hand or two of poker!

Now please don't go getting yourself fired by playing/studying poker at work though and then proceeding to send me hate mail. Use this strategy at your own discretion!

Bonus Tip: Poker Podcasts

I should mention that I am also a big fan of podcasts in general and especially poker podcasts. These are perfect for somebody who spends a lot of time commuting to and from work (especially driving).

Here are a few of my favorite poker podcasts (besides my own) which you can find here:

Now, regarding the podcasts below which are all excellent, I have actually been a guest on several of them and those episodes are linked below:

1. Thinking Poker Podcast - Andrew Brokos and Nate Meyvis, solid technical poker podcast, highly recommended.

2. The Poker Life Podcast - Joe Ingram interviews famous poker players, love this one.

3. Smart Poker Study - Sky Matsuhashi, excellent discussion of studying poker, I was a guest.

4. The PostFlop Poker Podcast - Ben, Merv and Mike, solid poker strategy discussion, I was a guest.

5. House of Cards Radio - Ashley Adams, I have been a guest multiple times.

6. TwoPlusTwo Pokercast - One of the longest running and most popular poker podcasts, I have listened for many, many years.

5. Consistency is the Key to Everything

Success doesn't take days off. Consistency is the key to my success in poker.

The biggest key of all though to earning a solid side income from poker with a limited amount of time is just being consistent with the playing and study schedule that you do have.

When I was working a full time job I would never take a day off from playing or studying poker. There was always some amount of time, no matter how small, that I could sneak in to either play a bit of poker or at least review a few hands.

This consistency is what allowed me to continually improve my skills and my bankroll to the point that after a year I was playing much higher stakes and making considerably more than I did all day long at my day job.

And that in turn allowed me to go tell the boss to have a nice life!

The mistake that many people make though is getting all excited about poker and playing like crazy for awhile and then going AWOL from the game the moment they hit that first big rough patch.

You just can't possibly expect to succeed in poker with this kind of inconsistent approach.

The bottom line is that motivation is going to come and go in poker. Some days or weeks you will be winning big and think you are on top of the world. Then there will be other weeks where you can't win a hand to save your life.

This is something that I talk about in my latest video on how to make $100 a day playing poker.

And let me be clear that it is ok to take a few days off sometimes if you are just getting destroyed everyday and you have lost all your confidence. It happens to the best of us, believe me.

But you have to get back in there. You have to stay consistent with this game no matter what. You can't just dabble in this thing like most people do and expect great results.

Final Thoughts

Finding the time to play poker and study poker these days can be hard. There are more distractions than ever and we all have stuff like families, work or school to attend to as well.

I would also recommend learning a simple proven poker strategy if you really want to speed up your progress at the poker tables.

You can just grab a copy of my free poker guide to learn this.

However, by being as efficient as possible with the time that you do have allocated towards poker, you can still see some solid progress over time. 

And therefore you can still earn a good side income from poker even if you have a really busy life.

The key is making sure that you find some amount of time (no matter how small) at the beginning or the end of your day to dedicate to either playing poker or studying poker. You need to remove all distractions during this time as well.

You can even try to do some cheeky poker study or even play at work. Although, be careful with this strategy. I am not trying to get anyone fired here!

The bottom line is that if getting better at poker and making a good side income is truly a priority for you, then you can find a few hours a week (at the very least) to play more and improve your skills.

Always stay focused on doing the stuff that actually moves the needle. Remove everything else that doesn't get you closer to achieving your goals in poker.

Lastly, if you want to learn how to start making $1000+ per month from low stakes poker games, make sure you grab a copy of my free poker cheat sheet.

Let me know in the comments below how you find time to play poker and study with a limited amount of time. Are you able to make a good side income from poker yet?

poker side income


  1. "The mistake that many people make though is getting all excited about poker and playing like crazy for awhile and then going AWOL from the game the moment they hit that first big rough patch."
    Absolutely priceless Nathan and made me laugh out loud! Why? Because you could have been writing about me!! Done that got the T Shirt ��

    1. Haha thanks Mike glad this article helped! BlackRain79 t-shirts coming soon :P

  2. Hey Nathan great stuff! I always read your blog but haven't commented in a while, writing this from work during a little spare time :) best of lucks to you and continue doing the good work you do!

    1. Thanks for being a long time reader Jorge! Really appreciate it and I hope you are doing well :)

  3. Hi Nathan! Everything you listed applies to me. When you have a full time job and, at the same time, you want to become at least a reasonable poker player, you have to find that "idle time" to play some hands and study the game. One tip I can give is this: every day I spend 2h to go to work and go home. I use this time to study the game. Thanks for the great work and keep crushing the tables!!!


    1. Hey Eduardo glad this article rang true for you! That is awesome that you study poker during your commute. I should have mentioned listening to poker podcasts as well for commuters, they can be really helpful. Actually I am just going to add that in there now hehe!

  4. Excellent article. Always interesting and useful thanks

  5. "Remove All Distractions" this is one of my biggest mistake!!! I often watch some videos on youtube or football matches during poker time. Results? At some point I have to "Remove All Distractions" and play much harder to get back the money lost!
    And the beauty is...I knew it... :)
    Thanks mate for this chapter

    1. Glad to help Marco, I used to do the same thing!

  6. Nice art! Your articles always gave me motivation boost. Thanks that you are writing on this blog for such long time. Cheers!

    1. Thanks for reading, glad they help!

  7. Hey Nathan! Just got back into poker after a 6 years break. I was playing 15$ husng back then. Oh man , things have changed a lot. I found your blog by mistake and now it's the main source for motivation. Thank you for putting your precious time into this. Cheers!

    1. Yes things have changed a fair bit in online poker in 6 years. Glad you found my blog and I could help you!