Is Online Poker Beatable in 2019? Here's the Facts

Is Online Poker Beatable?
People ask me all the time if online poker is beatable still in 2019. And as I mention all the time on this blog, yes it is, but you have to have realistic expectations.

Online poker is not the gold rush that it was 10 years ago. Also, in my experience the majority of people who get into online poker approach it like a hobby, not as a business. And this turns out to be their downfall.

So in this article I am going to discuss why online poker is still beatable in 2019 and how to make it profitable for you.


Yes, Online Poker is Still Beatable in 2019


Let's get this out of the way first. Yes, online poker is still beatable in 2019. If you don't believe me just open up PokerStars (or whatever site) and load up a bunch of random low stakes games.

At the very lowest stakes there is still almost always at least one really bad player who is clearly a long term losing poker player (a fish).

By the way, if you don't know how to spot the fish stop reading right now and go read this quick article I wrote on how to spot the fish.

As you move up the stakes it might be every other table or every third table where you find a really bad poker player. But this is just the nature of the game.

Whenever there is more money on the line, people tend to play better.

Now as a veteran of online poker (I started playing online way back in 2004), yes, let me tell you that the games are not as good as they used to be.

And I have no idea why I seem to be the only one in the poker industry who actually talks about this all the time on this blog and elsewhere.

It is important that newcomers to poker understand that online poker isn't the goldrush that it used to be. But seriously, this really should just be common sense.

You wouldn't expect to get rich investing in BitCoin right now for example. All the people who got rich got in early. Does this mean there is no money to be made in cryptocurrencies anymore?



No of course not, but you have to be smart about how you invest now and you shouldn't expect the explosive growth that we saw a few years ago. The market has levelled out now.

And this is why it blows my mind that people get into online poker in 2019 and think it's some secret get rich quick scheme that's just been waiting for them to "discover" it for the past 15 years.

No, the online poker market has of course matured as well. All of the people who got mega rich playing online poker got in very early like 10 to 15 years ago.

So yes online poker is still beatable in 2019 but you have to be realistic about it. Players are better now, rakeback has gone down, governments have caused player pools to be split and so on.

You can beat online poker in 2019 but if you think this is some sort of get rich quick scheme, do yourself a favor and just quit now.

Go to a casino and put it all on black, you will have better luck.


1. How to Make Online Poker Beatable For You - Find the Fish


So how do you beat online poker these days? Well, first things first you need to play in good games. And by good games I mean poker games with fish in them.

You know, people who play way too many hands, chase every draw and can't fold bottom pair to save their life. These guys are the lifeblood of the poker industry and fuel your profits.

As I mentioned last week, if you aren't interested in putting in the time and effort to find the right poker site, the right table and the right seat, then you may as well go play bingo.

If you want to win at online poker then you need to be willing to put in the effort to consistently put yourself in advantageous situations against bad players.

I see it as simply part of the job if you take online poker seriously in 2019. The days of sitting down at a random table and expecting it to be full of fish waiting for you are long, long gone.

So this is why despite the popularity of fast fold games like Zoom, I actually do not recommend them for someone who is looking to maximize their poker winrate.

You simply cannot table select and seat select in Zoom poker and this takes away an absolutely vital part of your edge if you want to beat online poker in 2019.

Now don't worry though, if you play Zoom poker it isn't all bad. I think it is actually a good fit for a certain type of player. You can read all about that in my hugely popular guide to Zoom poker strategy.


2. How to Make Online Poker Beatable For You - Use the Right Strategy


The next part of beating online poker in 2019 is using the right strategy. This is usually the part that 90% of people focus all of their energy on.

But I put it after table selection and seat selection because if you aren't playing in good games it really doesn't even matter how good your strategy is, you are never going to "crush" a bunch of good players.

Anyways, the best poker strategy for the lower limits in particular these days is still TAG. This stands for tight and aggressive.

And basically it means that you are being highly selective about which hands you choose to play before the flop, always being aware of your position at the poker table, and playing very aggressively when you choose to get involved.

I recommend playing roughly the top 15% of hands dealt to you in a full ring cash game and the top 20% in a 6-max cash game. You should also be raising or re-raising the vast majority of the time you enter the pot preflop.

Now I don't have the space to cover every detail of this strategy in a short little blog post here. So if you want a step by step guide on how to play TAG poker in 2019, I suggest you download my free 50 page poker cheat sheet.

Everything is laid out for you from preflop to the river, exactly what hands to play, when to bet, when to raise and fold. If you are struggling to beat the lowest stakes, study this guide and your results will improve.

And yes, it's free. Although, it really shouldn't be!


3. How to Make Online Poker Beatable For You - The Mental Game


The last part of making online poker beatable for you is having the right mental game. Once again, almost nobody focuses on this these days, all they do is study strategy.

But if you aren't constantly working on your tilt control then you are just going to end up blowing all your profits at the poker tables once the inevitable soul crushing downswing comes.

You are going to face a serious of bad beats and coolers at some point that simply doesn't even seem real. This is why there are so many people who think online poker is rigged.

They simply do not understand the variance that comes with this game. Most of them simply have not played enough hands of poker to understand it.

As somebody who has played 10 million+ hands of online poker I can tell you that you are going to go through stretches that just do not even seem real.

I don't care how good you think you are, you will have stretches where you lose for months on end even though you are making every correct play.

95% of people cannot handle this. That is why they are amateurs. Poker will always be a hobby for them because when the heat gets turned up, they crack.

So this is why as a professional I approach poker like it is a business. Like a professional athlete, I realize that what I do away from the tables is actually more important than what I do on them.



Therefore, I make sure that I eat healthy, get regular exercise and sleep well. I also incorporate meditation before and after poker sessions. I have even worked with poker mental game coaches in the past such as Jared Tendler.

Lastly, I also make sure that I am putting in the hours studying my opponents in PokerTracker away from the tables so that I have that edge over them when we do battle at the poker tables.

PokerTracker is just one of many poker tools and software I use by the way to make sure that I continue crushing the games and am able to multi-table and play long hours.

For the complete list of all poker tools and software that I use at the tables, click here.

In short, I know that I am putting in way more work away from the tables and taking this game much more seriously than my opponents. And this is why I continue to win.

They are going to lose to a better rested, more confident and relaxed opponent who has also studied their game inside out and made notes on how to beat them.

This is why online poker will always be beatable for someone who is ready to treat this game like a business and approach it like a professional.


Final Thoughts


So is online poker beatable in 2019? Yes, of course it is.

All you have to do is go load up a bunch of random NL2 and NL5 games right now on literally any site. Anybody with even a passing knowledge of how to play TAG poker (and who has a little bit of tilt control) will do just fine in these games.

Now yes of course online poker gets harder when you move up to higher stakes with "real money" on the line. But this is inevitable. When significant money is on the line in anything in life, people take it much more seriously.

Also, online poker is not the gold rush that it was 10 or 15 years ago. Heck, the games aren't even as easy as they were 5 years ago!

But once again, this really should just be common sense. People get better, they study, they learn and the fish eventually go broke.

However, online poker is still easily beatable for somebody who takes this thing seriously and is willing to put in the time and effort in all aspects of their game.

And those are game selection, strategy and the mental game.

Look, the bottom line is that poker is a game played between people and so there is always going to be a pecking order. Some people simply want it more than others and are willing to work harder.

Poker also has this amazing built in element of short term luck so that all the amateurs can keep deluding themselves into thinking that their losses are all the result of their "bad luck."

Bottom line, if you really want it, then poker will always remain beatable for you.

If you want to know how I become a poker pro, travel the world and how you can do it too, make sure to pick up a copy of my free poker guide.


Let me know in the comments below if you think online poker is beatable in 2019.

Is Online Poker Beatable?

19 comments:

  1. As you say, its natural, that games mature and become tougher to beat with time. But its also a fact, that interest in online poker has been declining for a decade now. On PokerStars for instance cash game traffic seem to have declined to less than a third of its 2008 peak. And not only does this mean, there is less money going around, it also mean, that the average experience level of the player pool is rising. Just like the average age is rising in a country with a low birth rate.

    It also explain, why sites like PokerStars have taken steps to reduce rake-back and increase tournament rake. Its not just corporate greed, its also them attempting to maintain their revenue in a declining market. So for sure online poker is not a get rich quick scheme any more. But on the other hand, if you are mainly playing for fun, its not difficult to play in a way, so that at least you do not have to pay for your hobby. And maybe you can eventually turn it into a small side income as well.

    And its not just the cash games, that are still beatable. Tournaments are also still very soft, if you stick to buyins of 3-4$ or lower. For instance I have seen someone cash in a traditional 9 man SnG on PokerStars by sitting out the entire tournament. The other players were so bad, that 6 of them had busted, before he got blinded away.

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    1. I think a lot of the declining traffic on PokerStars has to do with government interference. PokerStars.com has had to pull out of so many markets because a certain government decides for it's citizens that they can't play there anymore.

      I don't think the overall interest in poker is down that much since the 2003-2009 boom years. The recent WSOP numbers indicate that. I think last year was the 2nd most entrants ever in the Main Event. People love to play poker and it isn't going away any time soon.

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    2. It is true, that a lot of countries have prevented its citizens from playing at PokerStars.com with Australia and Sweden as some of the last, and of course this affect traffic. However cash game traffic on PokerStars.com is still way larger than on any other site, so I think, the overall industry tendency must be a decline as well. But perhaps not quite as large as that seen on Stars.

      Moreover online cash games are not the only form for poker, so perhaps some of the decline reflect a shift to tournament poker and / or live poker. Spin & Gos reportly stand for 20% of the revenue on PokerStars.com now, and as you say the WSOP and other big events still attract near record large fields every year.

      So maybe the conclusion is, that online cash games are still a brilliant way to learn to play poker, but if you want to earn really significant money, you are going to have to make the transition to live poker at some point. I dont think, players like Tom Dwan spend much if any time online anymore. Instead they get invited to high stake cash games in Macau and continue to make money there.

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  2. I totally agree about the current poker climate but your Bitcoin analogy is off. Bitcoin has the potential for massive gains still for many reasons. The last decade there was no institutional money along with less than 1% of the world's population involved. As demand increases and Bitcoin creation decreases we are gonna have major gains. *obv I'm all in. Haha

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    1. Haha just read your comment after replying to that specific of the article, aswell.

      100% second your thoughts, that's why I'll invest some % of my gains in the second bear-market that I have witnessed so far. Everyone thought the same after 2014 and people were fast to scream we're headed towards 0$ marketcap after the plunge in early 2018.

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    2. Thanks for your thoughts. I know everybody and their dog is a crypto expert on the internet these days haha. Time will tell who was right and who was wrong :)

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    3. Well you don't need to be fortune teller, just have an analytical mind and see for example that trading volume is already at the level of 2017 all-time high. With blockchain based companies now really getting their footing and real-life application and also new adoption in markets like India, which has nearly 1.5 billion people, where most of them are just getting access to internet and therefor the opportunity to participate in these activities. If China was ever to lift their crypto ban, would give another surge in price.

      Why would anyone be interested in trading in that frequency when they don't gain from their decisions, especially institutional traders?

      Also much more institutional money is involved nowadays.

      Another thought: I've been unemployed for 6 months after the company I've worked for several years has been bankrupt. When I filed for social support, I had to share if I had any crypto assets and the social worker told me that they had to change that in their data assesment last year, as it is now officialy in the same asset class as stocks, bonds, etfs etc.

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  3. Really nice article, except the comparison to Cryptocurrencies and especially Bitcoin.

    Gambling market is inherently different to cryptocurrency market / forex / stocks etc.

    And yes, you can expect to still become rich by investing into cryptocurrencies (ofcourse there needs to be some research and not blindly investing into any shitcoin that is not even listed in the top currencies or has a project that is aiming nowhere).

    If you compare the bullrun from 2014 and then 2017 it is more than likely that we're seeing gains like in those years as the overall money in the world is rising aswell and cryptomarket started a bear-run close to a trillion dollars, which compared to other markets (60+ trillion in stocks f.e) is still ways ahead of what can be reached in the future. Maybe not this year, maybe not next year, but they will come.

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    1. Thanks glad you enjoyed this article!

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  4. What's your opinion on Spin&Go's?? I find that they are a cash cow it's ridiculous.. Maybe it's just me but I find that they are far softer than cash tables or tourney's rn.

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    1. I have no experience with them so I can't comment.

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    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  6. Nice article nathan especially the mental game part because it’s simply the truth that this is one of the few areas where we can get a nice edge over other regs!

    @Aidan I am a spin and go player and it’s a fact that soins are the most profitable format right now on the market but the same that applies to poker applies to them, they are getting drier and drier every year, especially on stars with the promospins around (more rake), and due to the general high rake at one point in the future they might not be profitable anymore because you can’t have a big enough edge vs regs that you can beat the rake and therefor rely on playing regularly vs fish to generate a profitable winrate. But that point is still a few years (hopefully longer) in the future so for now if someone takes the time to learn spin and go strategy they are still a small goldmine :)

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    1. Thanks Habit, I agree about the mental game being a spot where you can still get a huge edge these days. This is even more the case if you play 6-max or short-handed where the swings are big.

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    2. Inspired by this discussion I played 8 one dollar Spin n Go`s on PokerStars, and I would certainly not call them "cash cow" or "gold mine". The majority of the 16 random opponents, I faced, were some sort of regs, just like in any other game format on Stars.

      And while the rake per tournament is lower than for traditional 75 BB SnGs, because the structure is so fast, you end up paying more rake per hand. Also if you are paying these for profit, you need to factor in, that some of the money go to the "jackpot" spin, which you will likely never see.

      From a theoretical standpoint the format is pretty bad for people seeking to find edge, since basically any fish can wake up with AK, when you have A9, and then the money goes all in, and the fish is happy.

      Its an open question, if this is compensated enough by a softer player pool. At the end of the day, I guess, sharks will always go, where there is food to find, so some sort of equilibrium is likely found for most game formats.

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  7. It’s just facts I stated and you shouldn’t make up your opinion on 8 games. Go play 10k spins and you still have a sample that has a lot of variance but at least then you wouldn’t mind someone getting ak when you have a9. I don’t want to advertise my blog or anything here but it makes sense to google for some blogs to see the long term in the game. It is general knowledge that spins are the most profitable format for a few years now already even tho they got tougher for quite some time already

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  8. Hello
    can someone tell me what i need to do if i want to keep my stats but will change my computer?
    thanks in advance.

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