Should You Play Poker as a Part Time Job? (2024)

Should You Play Poker as a Part Time Job?

Something that people ask me a lot is if you should play poker as a part time job. I think the answer to that question is yes for most winning poker players.

Why not earn some extra income from something that is already a hobby of yours? Again, this is assuming that you are a winning poker player.

But that of course is the kicker though. Because as I have said before, I believe only around 30% of poker players actually win at poker over the long run after the rake is taken out.

And I think only around 10% are actually significant winners, meaning that they beat the rake and the other players for a high win-rate.

Anyways, even though most people who play this game will never be significant winners, a small portion of you will be. This article is for you.

Should you play poker semi-pro as a part time job?

Who Should Consider Becoming a Part Time Poker Pro?

I think the kind of person who should consider playing poker on the side for a part time income is somebody who already has a full time job or school, and has a few spare hours in the evening.

10+ years ago before I decided to become a full time poker pro, this was the position I was in.

I worked a regular 9-5 job all day long and luckily I did not even have much of a commute (I lived in the city and just walked to work). So I naturally had several hours each night to devote to something.

Now you could use this time at night to binge watch the latest Netflix show, argue about politics on Facebook or play video games like a lot of people do.

Or you could use this time to get something more out of your life. For me personally, my goal was to become a professional poker player and travel the world.

So I played poker for a part-time income for around a year, slowly building up my bankroll and moving up the micro stakes online.

Should You Play Poker as a Part Time Job?

At the end of that year I had around a $10,000 poker bankroll and 6+ months living expenses saved up in the bank, so I was able to take the plunge and go pro.

Keep in mind that I was also a young kid at the time (24), with no attachments and a university degree to fall back on if I failed.

If you are currently in a position like this, consistently winning at poker with a stable job (or perhaps school), then I think pursuing poker as a part time income at night can work for you.

You have to get laser focused though as I am going to talk about more later on. During that year before I went pro there was nothing else at night except poker.

Because this really is the key if you want to have success with any side hustle. Everything else (besides your kids or wife if you have), must take a back seat.

Playing Poker Part Time Removes the Pressure

And I should mention that many of you out there who are reading this probably don't even have any interest in "going pro" one day like I did.

And that is totally fine and in fact smart in most cases.

Because one of the great things about playing poker part time is that it removes the pressure that you feel as a professional.

One of the first things I learned when I turned pro was that poker was no longer as fun, it was more like a job. Because after all, I had to win. Losing was simply not an option anymore.

And this definitely changed the way I looked at the game quite a bit.

When you play poker as a part time job though, you are under no such pressure. Your bills are already paid and this allows you to actually play some of your best poker.

It also helps prevent you from tilting so much as I talked about in my latest YouTube video.

You can also take those shots at a higher stakes game for example that maybe I can't as a pro. Or maybe you can make that risky bluff late in a tournament that might be too risky for me as pro.

So I do think there are many benefits to playing poker strictly as a side income.

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Can You Make a Lot of Money as a Part Time Poker Player?

The other thing that is really important to mention is that poker is not easy these days. And what this means is that it is harder for your to make a significant side income playing poker.

For example, I used to make $1000 a month from poker pretty easily even while only playing poker part time at very low stakes.

This is harder to do these days though. Win-rates are lower, there are less totally clueless fish and there is also much more government interference affecting where you can and cannot play.

You have to work harder at your game these days and make sure you are also studying your poker hands and studying some advanced poker strategy away from the tables as well.

Since poker win-rates are typically lower across the board these days you will also experience more variance or swings as it is often called.

Even a good player these days at the micro stakes can go on a 10 or 20 buy-in downswing. And this is difficult to handle even for a pro.

Now this of course goes back to why playing poker as a part time job is actually preferable to playing full time though in some ways.

And that is because it is much easier to mentally deal with those large downswings when you are not relying on this game to pay your bills.

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Who Should NOT Play Poker as a Part Time Job?

Now I am going to tell you about the kinds of people that should not rely on poker for a part time income.

And these are the people who work some low paying job that they hate right now and they see poker as their ticket to freedom (or at least a better life for their family).

In other words, they are in it completely for the money. I literally get emails from these people every single day and I cringe every single time.

These people almost always fail to make it as a semi-pro because financial pressure is their largest motivating factor in playing the game.

Let me be very clear that poker is in no way a "get rich quick scheme". In fact, it is not something that you should rely on if you are facing financial difficulties.

Poker is a game that has huge ups and downs and this is why I always suggest using a very conservative bankroll management strategy even for part time poker players.

Also, if money is your main motivating factor for playing poker, you need to consider that there are many other ways to make many online which may be easier.

This a little bit outside the scope of this article, but there are many other potentially easier ways to make a side income online these days.

This is me working on my side income recently in southern Thailand.

Should You Play Poker as a Part Time Job?

What do I mean by this? Well, you are looking at one of my side incomes right now!

I have built a large audience on this blog and I sell several poker educational products and promote some others as well.

I also make YouTube poker videos and write about poker for some of the biggest poker news sites in the world, among many other side hustles.

The bottom line is that if you are looking to play poker part time because you are facing financial difficulties, this is almost always going to be a bad idea.

And there might be other ways to make money online which are easier anyways. Poker is not a get rich quick scheme (neither is any other side hustle online by the way).

If you are just in this thing for the quick money, you will probably fail.

Part Time Poker Staking - Should You Do It?

Another option that you have these days is to get staked. And I actually think this is a really good idea if you just play poker part time.

Staking by the way is when somebody else (known as a "backer"), provides a portion of or all of your poker bankroll in exchange for a split of your profits.

It is often 50/50.

Many people do not know that I was staked for awhile myself. And almost all poker players who play high stakes these days are at least partially staked.

The reason why getting staked might be a good idea for you as a semi-pro poker player is because it allows you to essentially have a much bigger bankroll.

This in turn allows you to artificially start playing higher stakes and really see how good you are a lot faster.

And the great thing about having a poker stake, and playing poker as a part time job, is that there is not a big amount of pressure to win.

You of course want to win for yourself and your backer but there is a safety net if you fail.

Now of course it sort of goes without saying though that you are unlikely to get staked by someone these days unless you have a significant history of winning in the past.

Nobody is going to give you a stake unless you can demonstrate this.

But there are more options than ever these days on poker forums, Facebook groups and staking websites for you to play on somebody else's money and really take this game to the next level on a part time basis.

Should You Be a Part Time Poker Dealer?

What about being a part time poker dealer you might ask? Well, I personally have no experience dealing poker games, but it is easy to see that there is a lot of demand for poker dealers out there.

Play Poker as a Part Time Job

In fact there are plenty of part time poker dealer positions available all over the United States for example.

So if you have any kind of history in dealing cards, this is an opportunity for you to make a side income within the game of poker as well.

This could also be a good way to simply start making an extra income from poker in your spare time that you could use as a poker bankroll at a later time.

Building Your Side Hustle - Unshakeable Focus

The real key takeaway that I want you to get from this article though is that you need to have tunnel vision.

No matter what side hustle you choose these days (poker or something else), you will not succeed unless you get laser focused.

Most people spend their evenings binge watching Netflix, playing video games or getting in heated political debates on Facebook.

Now if any of these things are a huge passion of yours, by all means have at it! I am certainly not here to tell you how to live your life.

But if you are currently unsatisfied with your finances, relationships, career path or you just feel lost in life, you can't keep doing these things and expect anything good to happen.

Building a real side hustle and levelling up your life from poker (or something else) takes serious dedication and a will to succeed.

But it can also have a profound impact on your life. For example, I am now able to work from anywhere in the world because everything is online.

Here is my work station last year for example from a small beach town in central Vietnam.

Should You Play Poker as a Part Time Job?

Now again, I am not saying you shouldn't relax and do what you want in your spare time.

But I think that if you want to pursue poker seriously, travel the world like I do, or improve your financial situation in some other way, then you need to seriously consider cutting stuff like this out of your life.

When I spent a year playing poker part time before quitting my job I would come home at night and literally all I would do is play poker, study my hands or study poker training courses.

There was nothing else at all. I could barely tell you who the president was.

I stopped playing all video games, stopped watching TV, stopped posting in forums, reddit and all other time wasters.

Just poker.

In fact many people do not know that the original name of this blog that you are reading right now was "Just Grind." Because that is literally all I did for the first several years of my poker career.

You can go back and read the ancient blog posts on this website from 10 years ago. I was absolutely all-in with poker. I was not going to be denied.

And that is why I succeeded.

Bonus Tip - How to Finally Stop Wasting Time Online

Here is another bonus tip that I absolutely can't recommend enough.

Go login to your Facebook right now and UNFOLLOW absolutely everyone (yes, even your mom, little sister and your best friend since high school).

This does not mean that you are unfriending them by the way.

It just means you won't see their latest political rant or the cat video or stupid meme they decided to share in your news feed anymore.

My Facebook news feed has been completely empty for many, many years now because I simply unfollowed absolutely everybody on my friends list.

And what this ultimately means, is that unlike most other people, I do not waste any time on Facebook at all.

And yes, getting focused also includes a bit of a "break up" with your favorite sports team as well. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but this is another massive time waster for some.

I am from Vancouver, Canada and a huge hockey fan (Vancouver Canucks). But I don't have time to watch a 3 hour hockey game if I want to achieve my goals in life.

So I watch the 5 minute game highlight video on YouTube now instead.

The bottom line is that if you want to level-up your life and build a real side hustle (poker or something else), then you have to get serious and cut some of these time wasters out of your life.

Final Thoughts

So should you play poker as a part time job? Well, it is debatable.

Most do not actually win at poker in the long term after the rake is taken out. So it won't even be possible until you learn how to become a consistently winning poker player.

You should also have a real passion for the game and want to make a solid part time income, or even a full time one, from poker one day.

As I often say, a true love for this crazy game is the only thing that is going to get you through the hard times when it doesn't seem like you will ever win another hand again.

But poker is also a tough game these days and that is why I recommend that the majority of people (who win at poker) just keep their day jobs.

In fact there are many benefits to playing poker as a part time job, compared to full time. The biggest of these is the lack of pressure to win since your bills are already paid from your full time job.

As a part time winning poker player you could also try your hand at getting staked. This is a great opportunity to play some higher limit games without having to take on as much risk.

Lot's of people are looking for consistent winning poker players to stake these days because it is easy money for them.

Lastly, there are even plenty of gigs available these days as a part time poker dealer if you want to be involved in the game and still make a side income from it.

There are also tons of other online side hustles available either within poker or outside it. The list of them is far too long to name.

I already mentioned a few of them in this article, blogging, YouTube, educational products, freelance writing, coaching, Twitch, staking others.

The bottom line is you need to get laser focused on your goals if you want to become a semi-pro poker player or succeed in some other side hustle related to poker.

Lastly, if you want to know how to start making $200-$1000 per month playing part time in low stakes poker games, make sure you grab a copy of my free poker cheat sheet.


Let me know in the comments below if you play poker as a part time job. What are your thoughts on being a semi-pro poker player?

Play Poker as a Part Time Job


  1. I agree with almost all that you said Nathan but I also think that the majority of people won't try hard enough to get a decent side income. And this comes from not having enough pressure, so most of them won't put enough effort. And maybe I'm being overly dramatic about the toughness of todays games but it's not easy to win. And if they finally decide to go for it, they have to know that it will take time, a lot of time even if they are spending ALL of their free time on improving their game. And I don't want to discourage anyone with this comment but if you are trying or thinking about trying to have a side income with poker know before hand that it is going to be hard but worth it.

    1. Hey Alf,

      Thanks for your comments! And I agree.

      Making it in poker these days, even part time, isn't easy. Most people won't get the quick results they want, and so they will just give up.

      But this is the same thing for creating a successful business, a popular YouTube channel or blog, learning a new language, getting a 6-pack or anything else in life that requires patience and consistent hard work.

      At the end of the day, some people just want it more than others :)

  2. As a full time pro,id advise against it.You ll need an iron will to keep your head together,and insane stress management and relaxation abilities. Back and neck problems are unavoidable after a couple of years no matter how fit you are.Unless you hate your job or you are unemployable for some reason,dont go full time pro.As a backup plan,in case you go pedal to the metal on poker,try to create some passive income source,or side hustle with something,like teach poker.

    1. Hey Jimmy,

      I agree about the full time pro thing. Most people shouldn't do it. But I think semi-pro can work for some. For example, lot's of guys have a solid career working 9-5 Mon-Fri and then play live or online on the weekends during their time off to supplement their income. Good points about creating some sort of side hustle with poker also though.

    2. Semi pro will work best for people who dont work many hours or hqve demanding jobs.I enjoy playing against weekend warriors,doctos,lawyers and other hard working tired people who are just spend after a long day,or on Friday night.They play their c game at best,no matter how skilled they are in poker.So you part time pros out there,make sure you are well rested before you play.

    3. I am a part-time “semi-pro”, and you have a good point about not bringing my A-game, if I am tired from work etc. I have certainly lost a decent amount of money combining poker and alcohol on a friday night, even the games were usually soft at this time.

      On the other side I have won a lot of money by getting up early in the morning and playing for 1-2 hours before going to work, or just get up early in the weekend. I live in Europe, and when its early morning here, the tables are full of recreational players from Canada and South American as well as some from Europe, who have not yet slept and are often completely stoned.

      And as an added bonus most regulars are not playing at this time, so I can get these maniacs, gamblers and drunks almost to myself. Maybe there are 1-3 other regulars at a full ring table at 5-6 am CET, but if I play in the evening after work, its usually more like 6 or 7.

  3. Hello blackrain79, Could I have your email address ?

    I have got very good news for you.

    1. Hi Unknown,

      Wow, I really want to know what this very good news is!

      However, sorry but I don't give out my email address publicly. The 100k+ people who receive my free poker email newsletter already know what it is though :)

  4. I can totally relate to the article but i still have trouble.

    I've been a part time pro for 4 years. I was living in NYC and met my girlfriend (happens to be a dentist). I told her about my dreams and goals due to poker. She was on board.

    After we were married (2018) we moved to California to be in a better poker market. I'm now able to log in more hours and saw my win rate increase significantly.

    Even as a part time pro, I'm not satisfied.

    I guess if someone wants to do this full time. It won't matter the advice giving by people who try to say don't do it. Its something i believe that needs to be tried and see what happens down the road.

    I just think have your education, a decent resume, bankroll management, support and ready to grind. If it doesn't work out. Then no regrets in the future.

    If you don't try, then you don't know what that could do to your mental state in the future.

  5. I've always felt that if someone asks this question, the answer is "definitely no".
    If you are crazy about the game, there's no need for such questions.
    And if you aren't passionate about poker, there's a good chance that first huge downswing (I'm talking about the 50 000+ hands variety, which is 2-4 weeks of playing for most semi-pros) will end your "part-time career" forever.

  6. I agree that part time is better for most people. Far less stressful. You can just goof off and have fun without relying on it to pay the bills.

  7. hi, Nathan, this is my deal: i'm on full time disability for the rest of my life, before i put in any money my bills are paid and grocerys are in the house! but what i have done is this, i put in 40.00 bux last feb to play on 1 of the sweeps based sites that North Carolina allows, i have had as much as 575.00 at my high point, and right now i got about 2 buxi my account... but i realise gamblin money has no home!but reading your blogs and material has helped my game quite a bit despite the low balance! i'm going to pull myself out of the no win funk i'm in and i'll let you know whats afoot from there!

    1. I wish you all the best at the tables in 2020. But always make sure that your poker bankroll and life bankroll are completely different :)