How to Make $2,000 Per Month Playing Poker

How to Make $2,000 Per Month Playing Poker

One of the questions I get asked the most by readers is ‘how realistic is it to make a side income playing poker?’ And of course, ‘how much can I make?’In this blog, I’ll answer both.

In working with numerous clients over the years I find that most people have a target range of a few grand per month. In a minute, I’ll break down the math to see what it would take at the various stakes so you can decide for yourself how feasible it is.

Then, I’ll leave you with some resources to help make it a reality.

Disclaimer: I’m not going to pretend making $2,000 per month playing poker is easy just to sell you my course on how to do it. It’s not. The simple truth is most people who play poker will never accomplish this. Anyone that tells you otherwise is either lying or uninformed.

But if you’re already playing poker, are serious about the game and want to improve, then it’s not only possible, but I’ve helped many people achieve this goal, and beyond.

In this article we’ll focus exclusively on cash games, as they are by far the most stable and sustainable way to make money in poker. Tournaments have much higher variance and come with substantially more risk, and are therefore less reliable.

In short, if you’re looking to turn poker into a profitable side hustle or full-time endeavor, allocating the majority of your time and effort to cash games will serve you well. Here’s a detailed breakdown of exactly how I manage my bankroll.

What are Win Rates in Poker and How are They Measured?

Poker players measure their success using a win rate. A win rate is measured in the number of big blinds a player wins in a given hour.

For example, if John is playing $1/$3 NL and wins $3 per hour, then it can be said he wins 1 big blind (BB) per hour.

Put simply, your win rate is the difference in skill between you and your opponents, minus the rake.

What is a Good Win Rate in Poker?

That depends on how good you are.I’ll outline the most common win rates below, but be aware your specific win rate will depend on how difficult your game is, the rake, your consistency, and a host of other factors.

I believe my job as a coach is to tell it like it is. Most people simply lose. If you’re a long term winner in poker, it means you’re in the top 5-10% of poker players worldwide. That feat alone is something to celebrate.

While the following breakdown is simplified, I’m going to divide win rates into several categories so you can approximate where you stand. Ideally, you have kept diligent poker records over a large sample size, so you know your hourly rate. Then, you can see for yourself what your true win rate is, and simply plug in the numbers to determine how much you can make per month.

If you’re not already keeping records, please, start now (download the app Run Good). Depending on how often you play, you can accumulate a statistically significant sample in as little as several months. You’ll need at least 500 hours of live playand 50,000 hands online to have meaningful data.

Based on my experience in playing and coaching poker over the years, here are what I believe to be long term sustainable win rates in live poker.

Excellent Pro: 12BB/hour
Solid Pro: 10BB/hour
Moderate Pro/Serious Grinder: 5BB/hour
Straightforward, Tight Recreational Player: 2.5BB/hour

What does the breakdown at a given table look like? I know you’ll hate this, but it really depends on the level of competition.

If there’s an epic VIP, then of course one can expect a higher win rate. At a table full of nits,  10bb/hour may be the ceiling. But on average these things will even out over time, and I believe the above win rates are loosely what one can expect.

I’d estimate in the average nine handed poker game, one or two pros will win in the 10bb/hour range, and another player will win at 5bb/hour. Perhaps one more player will be a slight winner or breakeven, but the rest will be long term losers. Keep in mind that poker is a zero-sum game, which means the winners can only win as much as the losers are losing, minus the rake.

Therefore, the fastest way to increase your win rate is simply to play with more inferior players.

Naturally, that the more one moves up through the ranks the harder it is on average to achieve the above win rates. This is true because bigger games offer more opportunity and with that comes tougher competition.

Therefore, it may be easier to win your target amount at a lower stake game because your hourly rate will be higher. (You’ll also experience less variance).

How to Win $2,000 per month at $1/$3 NL

Making $2,000 per month at $1/$3 NL is achallenge, but doable. One would need to play a solid amount and have a good win rate to make this a reality.

For example, a 5BB/hour winner, makes $15 per hour. To make $2,000 per month they’d need to play 133 hours or 30 hours per week. (I assume there are 4.34 weeks/month).

At 10BB/hour they’d make $30 per hour, and would only need to play 15 hours per week.

Here are some more breakdowns for what one can expect to make playing $1/$3.

$1,000 per month:

2.5BB/hour = 133 hours
5BB/hour = 67 hours
10BB/hour = 33 hours
12BB/hour = 28 hours

$2,000 per month:

2.5BB/hour = 266 hours
5BB/hour = 134 hours
10BB/hour = 66 hours
12BB/hour = 56 hours

$5,000 per month:

2.5BB/hour = not feasible
5BB/hour = not feasible
10bb/hour = 165 hours
12BB/hour = 139 hours

How to Win $2,000 per month at $2/$5 NL

Moving up to $2/$5 NL will undoubtedly require some adjustments, but it’s the perfect ‘sweet spot’ for those looking to make several thousand a month playing poker.

I call this the ‘sweet spot’ because games are typically soft, yet the amount of money is substantial.

After all, to make $2,000 a month one only needs to win four standard ($500) buy ins.Unlike when moving up from $2/$5 NL to $5/$10 NL ,I wouldn’t expect a significantlong term decline in win rate when moving up from $1/$3 NL to $2/$5 NL.

Naturally, there may be a required adjustment period to achieve your previous win rate, but this can be worked out in several months with proper study and training.

Here are some breakdowns for what one can expect to make playing $2/$5 NL

$1,000 per month:

2.5BB/hour = 133 hours

2.5BB/hour = 80 hours
5BB/hour = 40 hours
10BB/hour = 20 hours
12BB/hour = 17 hours

As you can see, making an extra $1,000 per month playing poker is relatively easy if one is a winning player.

$2,000 per month:

2.5BB/hour = 160 hours
5BB/hour = 80 hours
10BB/hour = 40 hours
12BB/hour = 33 hours

This 5BB/hour winner playing less than 20 per week is the ‘sweet spot’ that I aim for with our Alec’s Academy graduates. This can be accomplished in two long sessions or three shorter ones, which is very doable for the average poker enthusiast who plays after work or on weekends.

Also, a 5bb/hour win rate doesn’t require one to be a full time professional. If one is playing in low rake games (which most are in the U.S.) and with relatively soft competition (which many $2/$5 NL games have), one could achieve this win rate by being the second or perhaps even third best player in the game.

In short, one doesn’t need to quit their job, nor be a full time professional to make this a reality.

$5,000 per month:

2.5BB/hour = not feasible
5BB/hour = 200 hours
10BB/hour = 100 hours
12BB/hour = 83 hours

Again, I encourage my reader to be prudent and not easily seduced by these numbers. I realize itseems deceptively easy to make $5,000 per month playing poker.

All onehas to do is play 100 hours, right? That’s nothing!

While I do have students who have achieved these win rates, know that it requires discipline, hard work and consistency to do. It will require one to live the poker lifestyle, which means structuring their days around the games and handle large swings. Many simply aren’t cut out for it.

How to Win $2,000 per month at $5/$10 NL

If you’re winning at $5/$10 NL, making a nice side income is very feasible. The big challenge of course, is winning in the first place.

More opportunity undoubtedly brings better competition. More difficult games mean achieving the same win rate will be a challenge. Expect your win rate to diminish when moving up to this level and plan for an adjustment period in getting used to the stakes. It’s here where you’ll need to double down on your studying to ensure you’re staying ahead of the competition.

$1,000 per month:

1BB/hour = 100 hours
2.5BB/hour = 40 hours
5BB/hour = 20 hours
10BB/hour = 10 hours

$2,000 per month:

1BB/hour = 200 hours
2.5BB/hour = 80 hours
5BB/hour = 40 hours
10BB/hour = 20 hours

$5,000 per month:

2.5BB/hour = 200 hours
5BB/hour = 100 hours
10BB/hour = 50 hours

$10,000 per month:

2.5BB/hour = not feasible
5BB/hour = 200 hours
10BB/hour = 100 hours

As you can see, if one can manage to win at 10bb/hour in a $5/$10 NL game, they can make an extra hundred grand a year playing ‘part time’. Not bad, right?

How do these numbers look to you? Let me know in a comment what your poker goal is. How much are you going to make next month playing poker?

The Reason Why Most People Fail to Make Money Long Term

Many believe the most common reason why people lose at poker is they lack the skill to win. This is only partially true.

Don’t get me wrong, your skill is important, and you need to continually work on your tactics to improve. But as anyone who has played poker can attest, skill is merely one part of the equation. How one manages their money, their mindset, emotions and the games they choose to play have a massive impact on their long-term success.

As anyone who has played poker can attest, skill is merely one part of the equation. How one manages their money, their mindset, emotions and the games they choose to play have a massive impact on their long-term success.

The most common mistake I see is that people fail to treat poker like a business.It’s their approach which is responsible for their losses.

They fail to set goals, keep records and don’t manage their money correctly. They are unsure which games and stakes to play, how to prepare for sessions, how to study, when to quit, how or when to move up or down in stakes. Without systems, they go about it all on a whim.

Naturally, this leads many to unnecessarily go broke and fail to reach their poker goals.

Resources for Making $2,000 Per Month Playing Poker

I promised you some resources, so here goes. The first option is to go about this on your own. This blog on poker variance is a great starting point and will help you prepare for the inevitable swings ahead.

If you keep diligent records, you can simply plug in the numbers to determine the hourly rate you need to win at to achieve your goals. It will also help you better manage your money to ensure you have the bankroll required for the games you’re playing.

If you’d like to have me walk you through the process step by step, including how to set up a sustainable poker business and equip you with the mindset, routines and study habits you need to crush the games, then apply to join our Alec’s Academy program.

Alec’s Academy is the ultimate poker business course, with the goal of helping our members make an extra $2,000 per month on the side. It’s aimed for people with some prior experience who are looking for that next level. I literally built it to be the course I wish existed when I was at that transition stage of my poker journey.

Alec's Academy Banner 3

In addition to some 40 modules, you’ll get ongoing access to me for 8 weeks and the opportunity to connect with like-minded members in our awesome community. Our next cohort opens soon, and you can hop on the wait list here. I’ll follow up with you personally with the next steps once doors open.

I look forward to helping you on your poker journey.

P.S. In full disclosure, we don’t promise and cannot guarantee anything if you join Alec’s Academy, as the results you get will depend on the effort you put in and of course, luck plays a roll as well.

Alec Torelli
Welcome! I'm Alec Torelli, founder of Conscious Poker, a training site dedicated to transforming good players into great ones by providing the best poker strategy and mindset content. I've been a professional poker player for 15 years and have over $1,500,000 in tournament winnings and millions more in both live and online cash games. On this site, I share the lessons I learned during my poker career to help you crush the games, optimize your bankroll, make winning decisions and achieve your poker goals.

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