How To Make A Million Dollars Playing Poker

How does a player make a million dollars playing poker? Undoubtedly, it is tougher to do this today than it was ten years ago but its still achievable. The biggest difference today is the level of refinement required to make serious money at poker tables today. Previously a fairly basic strategy was good enough, but today’s poker games present a much more significant challenge.

There aren’t that many online poker players with over a million dollars in earnings but I have spoken with a few over the years and here are the insights gained.

Four Ways To Make A Million Playing Poker

  1. Online Cash Games – I’ve met a few players over the years who have made this kind of money playing online cash games. Its a grind folks! Most of these players play low to mid-stakes and it takes many years to approach the million dollar mark.
  2. Online Tournaments – This is also a grind but some players have achieved much faster success in tournaments versus cash games. If you get lucky at some critical moments in tournaments you can do some big things. For example in the 2012 WSOP I lost a significant pot to lose out in 14th place. However, had I won this same tournament the cash would have been around $780,000 – that is a significant difference folks!
    30-Jun-2012 United States WSOP  $ 1,500 No Limit Hold’em (Event #53)
    43rd World Series of Poker (WSOP) 2012, Las Vegas
    14th $ 33,381
  3. Live Cash Games – this is an interesting path to take and somewhat fraught with risk. The tricky thing about live poker is that its difficult to get in the volume you need at the highest games to balance out the variance. A lot of high stakes players make BIG money playing in live cash games in Vegas, Macau, etc but they do so with quite irresponsible bankroll management in many cases. This can be somewhat mitigated through staking arrangements.
  4. Live tournaments – like the 2012 WSOP event I played in. These are perhaps the quickest way to make a big strike. WSOP events are loaded with high quality online players from around the world as well as the entire world of live tournament grinders who migrate to Vegas for this annual event.

Why Volume Matters In Poker?

It all depends on the stake levels you are playing at and your winrate at those stake levels. If you assume a 40 hour work week I have calculated how to make a million dollars playing poker at different stake levels with three different winrates 1BB, 3BB, & 5BB/100 hands.

How To Make A Million Dollars Playing Poker – High Stakes 

Assume $10/$20 NLHE

Scenario 1. Playing one table if your winrate is 5 BB/100 you will make 1 million dollars in 4.8 years. 5BB/100*$20*10,000= $1,000,000. That works out to be 250 weeks or 4.8 Years if you work 52 weeks a year. Of course you can half the time required ^ if you play two tables at the same winrate :).

Scenario 2.

If your winrate is 3 BB/100 you will make 1 million dollars in 3

3BB/100 * $20 * 16,666hrs = $1,000,000

The above equals about 416 weeks or Eight years!

Scenario 3. Making A Million At High Stakes.

1BB/100 * $20 * 50,000 = $1,000,000

That equals 1250 weeks or about twenty four years!

How To Make A Million Dollars Playing Poker – Mid Stakes

Scenario 1. 5BB/100 * $6 * 33331 = $1,000,000

So that is about 833 weeks or 16 years it will take.

Scenario 2. 1 BB/100 * $6 * 166,666 = $1,000,000

That is only 4166 weeks or 80 years and you’ll have a million. Of course you’ll probably be dead by then ;).

How To Make A Million Dollars Playing Poker – Low Stakes 

I am not even going to calculate it our for you :). You can do the math, but the key to remember is if you are playing low stakes volume is the only way to make real money. Volume is essential at low stakes and you probably want a good rakeback deal too :).

Refining Your Poker Skills

Its very clear that learning how to make a million dollars playing poker is no easy accomplishment. Time, volume, winrate, and stake level are all important components that will determine how quickly you achieve your goals. Complicating matters is that every stake level you go up the competition becomes harder and your edges will become smaller ceteris peribus.

Starting small and building a solid foundation is the key to success in poker. It could take years to build a strong enough foundation to play high enough as a significant winner. I’ve written extensive poker strategy articles on everything from preflop tactics such as how to 3bet, 4bet, 5bet, 6bet to advanced postflop tactics like bluffing style, metagame, etc . I encourage you to check those posts out.

Scaling Your Poker Game To Make A Million

Building Strong Poker Fundamentals

This is vitally important to your journey. Only with an incredibly strong foundation can you hope to scale your operation. In order to play three tables simultaeneously as well as you play one table you’ll need to understand the game at a deeper level. At some point it simply won’t be possible to process the information effectively even if you do have a good foundation. In my opinion having a human playing quality poker is only scalable up to round 4-8 tables. After 4-8 tables the quality of your decision making will begin to suffer. It might still make sense to play more tables assuming your winrate doesn’t drop too much and depending on your overall strategy but its good to be cognizant of the above.

Maintaining Your Winrate Multitabling

Focus and fundamentals are the key here. You will need to automate as many decisions as possible and save your mental energy for tricky hands and players. Its good to have all your technology setup well so you can be in the zone as well :). Some players love to use games controllers and hot keys so they can maximize their efficiency.

Tracking Your Poker Results

The moment you try to scale your game its even more important that you keep a close eye on your play. Its easy to start losing quickly and barely notice when you are playing a large number of tables. Scaling up on a weak foundation can lead to enormous losses so be careful :). I suggest just adding in one or two tables at a time.

Studying Your Poker Game

Once you scale your game you’ll want to put some time aside to make sure that you are frequently studying your poker game and working to improve it. This is a critically important part of how to make a million dollars playing poker. The best in the business have worked hard to get their game to where it is today. Frequently reviewing hands will also help to avoid any exploitive plays your opponents may be doing against you, which are going to happen more often if you are multi-tabling and less aware of potential leaks.

Playing Exploitively While Multitabling

Many multi tabling players miss critical opportunities to play exploitively. In my experience the poker players who do best when scaling / multitabling are the ones who are able to still keep exploitive tactics in their game. Remember, some players at the table will be very weak and this presents an enormous opportunity to improve our win rate.

Good luck making that million folks! Let me know if/when you do :). In the meantime be sure to check out my book Exploitive No Limit Holdem.



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