Sunday, November 23, 2008

Poker is Hard

Most people who have played much poker know that it is easy to learn how to play but very difficult to play at the highest level. Psychology, luck, fatigue, small sample size and other factors can all conspire against the above-average player.

I played a $27.50 buy-in tournament online Friday night and did well.

PokerStars Tournament #120443427, No Limit Hold'em

Buy-In: $25.00/$2.50

1845 players

Total Prize Pool: $46125.00

Tournament started - 2008/11/21 - 20:00:00 (ET)

Dear Braaak,

You finished the tournament in 7th place.

A $1,383.76 award has been credited to your Real Money account.

So that’s good right? 7th out of 1,854 players. Over $1,350 profit.

Aside from the fact that I played for over 7 hours and didn’t get to bed until 3:30, making me useless yesterday, it illuminates another aspect of poker that is very hard. It’s hard to make enough money playing poker to make it worthwhile.

If you just play for enjoyment, fine. If you want the money to make a difference, consider the following;

Assume you make $200,000 per year in your day job. In order to play poker at a high level you are going to have to devote a lot of time to it. Such a time commitment should come with it the opportunity to win a meaningful amount of money – let’s say $50,000 over the course of a year, even though there is no guarantee that you will be successful.
Three factors will weigh heavily against you in that quest for $50k - liquidity, opportunity and time. The first is liquidity. If your Return on Investment, or ROI is 20% (which is very good), you need to have $250,000 at risk over the course of the year (though not all at the same time) in order to win $50k on average.
Opportunity. If you win $50,000 next year, you will have succeeded in surrounding yourself with people who are willing and able to lose $50,000. The ability to play online has changed that dynamic but the concept still holds true. I play live and online and I have no intention of giving you any money.
Time is one thing that most successful people never have enough of. If you're good enough at your job to make $200,000, how many nights can your stay up til 3:30 and still perform at a high level?
Multi-tabling online and practing careful bankroll management will maximize your chances of reaching whatever your goal is, but it is far from easy. Be careful out there.

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