If you don’t really enjoy your day-to-day job or are struggling in difficult times because of the COVID -19 virus, you may have considered looking to poker as a way to make a little money on the side, or maybe even as a way to gain financial freedom. Every time I host a Q&A webinar on PokerCoaching.com, I find myself answering the classic question: “When do I have to become a professional poker player?”
As with most poker-related questions, the answer is, “It depends.” Let’s assume you’re playing no-limit $ 2- $ 5 hold’em at the local card room (I realize you might be forced to play online at this point because of a virus, but this example still applies), which is the bet most people play asking this question . $ 2- $ 5 is the biggest game running regularly in most local card rooms and most of the players who can beat this game feel like they’re good at poker visit dewapoker.
Assume that you make $ 50 per hour. When I was playing $ 5- $ 10 at the Bellagio eight years ago, for a year playing about 50 hours each week, I was making about $ 100 an hour. Ten big blinds per hour is a solid win rate that most great players can achieve as long as the play is soft and the rake isn’t too high. So, if you play 40 hours per week, you’ll be making around $ 8,000 per month for $ 2- $ 5, which sounds good, at least initially.
There are several issues with this good $ 96,000 per year salary. First, some people actually want to play 40 hours per week. I find myself constantly wanting to take days off or cut sessions because I don’t enjoy sitting at a table for hours on end. Many players feel the urge to take time off when they win or lose. Because of this, you may only get an average of 30 hours per week. You are now looking at a salary of $ 72,000.
Next, you have to pay taxes. Assuming you paid 20 percent or more, you’d actually be taking home $ 57,600, which isn’t all that bad yet. You may need to purchase health insurance, which costs about $ 250 per month, reducing your income to $ 54,600 each year. While this doesn’t sound so bad, you’ll also need to set aside some money for retirement, which will set you back about $ 10,000 per year, although you’ll eventually get it back at some point. This will earn you about $ 45,000 per year to live on while also trying to grow your bankroll.