How to make money playing poker

How to make money playing poker

As a poker pro this is one of the most frequent questions I got at casinos and poker rooms: can you make money playing poker? And the short answear to that question is yes, it is possible to make money playing poker. In fact, I’m a living proof that you can make money playing poker.

If you want to see how I won over 500.000$ playing sit and go poker you can read about my strategy strategy and a watch my poker video here.

In this guide I’ll share my best tips about how to play make money playing poker.

Let’s dive right in!

Sit and go winningsPost author Johan Sunnangs is making money palying poker

How Johan Sunnanangs started to make money playing poker

Johan Sunnanangs, the founder of, has played poker for fifteen years, and has been making money playing poker on sit and go´s, tournaments and cash games since 2004. This is his story about how he started winning and become a winning player.

– I turned 18 really early during the poker boom. I was hooked from the start and I early realised that this was a game of skill and I was higly motivated to study and become a winning player. I started off playing really small games in order to build my bankroll and develop as a player. 

– In addition to playing several sit and go tournaments at different poker sites, such as Pokerstars and Partypoker, I also studied the game a lot. I read most of the books that were available at the time. The books that developed me the most as a player was “Harrington on Holdem“. And as soon as poker videos started to pop up I bought subscritions on poker education sites such as Cardrunners. The site is not running anymore, but it hosted some really good pros back in the days, for example Brian Hastings and Cole South.

I’ll share some key points that made me a winning player almost from the start below.

Strategy to make money playing poker

What strategy should you choose to make money playing poker? This is the most important factors. 

Playing tight. I played a really solid style, only opening premium hands early in a tournament or sit and go.
Playing agressive. When I played, I did it agressively. By betting and raising when I played most of my hands I became a really tough opponent to play against. By being the agressor you always have to chanches to win each hand. Either you win because your opponent folds his or her hand, but you will also win if you show the best hand at showdown. When playing passively and are calling instead you always have to show the best hand to win.
Money management. I played games that my bankroll allowed and against opponents that I were winning against. I were selective in the games I played and didn’t move up to fast in stakes. In other words, I had a really good bankroll management.
Hand reading. Poker and Texas Holdem is a game of incomplete information. Thus, seeing patterns and making conclusions about what your opponent is holding is crucial to become a good poker player. By always whatching your opponents move and making conclusions about what hands they might hold based on their actions is a key skill for becoming winning poker player.
Table selection. Always keep an eye on what opponents you are facing and what players you got at the table. Are you playing against loose fish or really tough agressive opponents? If you find yourself playing in to tough games you will get burned. Choose your games wisely.

I will dig deeper into each of this tips later in the post.

How to win money playing poker online

All strategy points I shared above applies to both online poker and live poker. Though there is some important differences between the two to think about. 

Playing online poker from your home is really fast and convinient. You don’t even need to get a shower or dress upp before start playing. In a matter of minutes you can be up and running playing poker against players all over the world. You can also totally decide on your own schedule of when to play and whom to play against. 

To make money playing online poker, do these steps.

Choose an online poker site and make a deposit.
Choose the games you want to play and become really great at the games you play. For many reasons sit and go tournaments are a good starting point. The variance is less that big tournaments and it is easier to learn a winning strategy for sit and gos before turning into more advanced games. 
Study the game through both videos, books and online couses. Compare your average winrate at different games, or how it develops when you add or decrease the number of tables you play at once. 
Move up the ladder as your bankroll gets bigger. Withdraw some winnings along the way to secure your profits.

It is of major importance that you play on games and stakes you can beat. Look for opponents and games where players generelly play to many hands (loose) and are passive. Once you have developed your skills and found that games, focus on increasing the volume of games played in order to maximize your online poker profits. 

To win at online poker you want to find opponents who:

Limping into many pots
playing very passively
not folding their draws to big bets

How to make money playing poker at a casino

Live poker games at a Casino has the same rules as playing these games online. However there is many differences between the two options. One of the most obvious is that if you don’t have casino nearby, you might need to be travel a long way before you can enter a game. Also in many countries casino and gambling is not allowed, so Casinos and live poker are not available at all there.

Another big disanvantage to your winrate at live poker is that you can only play one table at once. When you play fewer hands per hour your winrate will drop a lot. Though, since you can get live tells and more information at a live table that makes up a bit for the loss of winrate since you can play much fewer hands.  

The same way you do to start winning at online poker, your goal for live poker should also be to find a good game then study it and the opponents to improve your winrate.  

What games should you play?

Okay, so you have deposit some money at a poker site but now you of course are wondering what games should I play?

Should you play tournaments or cash games? Pot Limit Omaha or Texas Holdem? Live or Online? I’m goig to answer to these questions in this section.

What should you choose between tournaments and cash games?

Both are for sure possible to beat and earn money while doing so. But its always good to remember that everything has its pros and cons.

Cash game:

+ You play more hands than in a tournament, which means that you will be a better player much faster than if you only play tournaments. (The more hands you play, the more experience you get.)

+ You can play forever. If you want to play for 15 minutes, that’s fine too. (This is suitable for people who have a full-time job or family.)

+ Of course, there’s variance in the cash game. But the variance is incredibly much smaller than it is in tournaments. (This leads to a more stable income.)

– For “some” people it can be boring just sitting at your computer and playing the same cash games over and over again.

– It’s tougher than in tournaments. (But you get better faster)


+ You can win an enormous amount of money for a small amount of money.

+ It’s softer than cash games, with a lot more “fun players”.

+ More variation than cash games.

– It takes many hours and you can’t just quit the game whenever you want. (This is not good for people that have full-time work or a family).

– It’s high variance. Even a Poker pro can lose for months just because of the high variance. (You need a strong mindset, to be able to handle the downswings)

Now you should take a look at the above facts regarding whether to play cash games or tournaments. Remember, there is no right or wrong. You can also mix and play both. However, I would recommend you to start playing cash games.

Okay now you know if you should play Tournaments or cash games but should you play PLO (Pot-limit Omaha) or Texas Holdem?

Texas holdemTexas holdem

Texas Holdem or Pot limit Omaha?

Okay, now we’ve got past the first step if you’re going to play cash games or tournaments. Let’s take a look at what kind of game you’re going to play. There are a lot of different game types but we will only go through the biggest which is texas Holdem as well as Pot-limit Omaha. There are also advantages and disadvantages here that we will look at.

Texas Holdem:

+ You can play whenever you want.
+ Less variance than PLO.
– Harder to beat lower stakes in Texas Holdem. (compared to PLO)

Pot-limit Omaha:

+ Easy to beat in the lower stakes.
+ More action at the table because you play with 4 cards instead of 2.
– High variance
– Harder to play whenever you want (especially at higher stakes)

Most players are better off starting with Texas Holdem

I would recommend all players to start playing Texas Holdem both because it is an easy game to learn but also because it is always possible to find games regardless of the time of day. But once you’ve learned the basics of Texas Holdem, you can of course start playing PLO instead if you want.

Is it possible making money playing poker?

Of course, it is possible to make money from Poker. You can earn different amounts depending on the stake you play. But to succeed in this, you need to follow these tips as well as be disciplined.

Step 1. Start at the lowest stake online.

Step 2. Find other people with whom you have similar knowledge. (There are lots of different forums such as 2+2.)

Step 3. Try to move up to higher stakes with help of good money management.

Step 4. Play on the weekends.

Why should you start at the lowest stake?

Because the worst players are playing here and almost every one of them is pretty bad. And bad players are making it much easier for you to learn the game and build a solid bankroll.

Join or create a study group!

Almost everything is easier if you have a group of like-minded that are as serious as you to become better at something, and of course, it’s the same in Poker. If you are unsure how you played a hand, you can share it so that you can discuss what is good and what needs to be improved. Remember, you can never be fully accomplished. Everyone gets into bad periods and it can be nice to be part of a poker community so you can help each other through tough and better times

Use some solid bankroll management!

Of course, you can make some easy money at the lowest stake, but if you want to make as much money as possible and become one of the best then you have to climb the stakes with help of good money management. I have listed below some basics within BRM.

For cash game: 

I recommend that you start with at least 30 buy-ins at the lowest stake.
When you have won some money and you now have 50 buyins at your current stake you should shot-taking.
That means= Take 5 buyins at the stake above, if it goes good then just continue. If you lose your 5 buy-ins then you should jump down to a smaller stake and grind up your bankroll again and then try again and again. Sooner or later you will manage to jump up to the next stake.
Always stick to your money management!

For tournaments: 

I recommend that you at least have 200 buyins. This may sound like a lot but tournaments have a lot more variance than cash games.
Your bankroll management depends on if you play big or small fields. The larger the field, the greater the variance, and then even more than 200 buy-ins can be a must.
If you play PLO you need even more buy-ins as there is much more variance than in Texas Holdem. I’d recommend doubling what I listed above if you play Omaha.

Wine more by playing on the weekends!

The best time to play poker is late on the weekends. why? Because then all amateur players are free from their work and they are probably drinking a beer or two. This often means that they are very loose (playing a lot of hands) because they just want to have some fun. So if you can only play a few days a week, you should try to play on weekends when there is clearly the most money to be made then. This applies both online and live.

 Table selection

What everyone should think about no matter what stake you play is that you should find the Fish. “The more fish, the better”. Then you may ask what is a fish? A fish is a bad player that does a ton of mistakes. How do you find the fish at the poker tables?

We are now going to simplify the process of recognizing the bad players by looking for some special behaviors:

They play every hand.
Limping preflop in an unopened pot.
Playing any sorts of bad hands like 72of, 82of, 92of, etc
Never buy in for a full-stack.

But remember that just because a fish shows 72of in a hand so you can not directly mark them as a fish. Maybe they misclicked. But if it repeats itself all the time then can mark them as a fish. The more weird gruds that a particular player makes from the list above, the better.

“If you can’t spot the sucker within the first half-hour at the table, then you are the sucker.” (From the movie Rounders.)

Play the right hands

Learning what hands you should play is very important for your confidence and winning as much money as possible. It’s also important for your quickness at the table. If you don’t know what kind of hands to play from different positions then you should play max 2 tables online at the same time. But if you know what hands to play you could move up to more tables faster.

It’s hard in the beginning to know what hands you should play, but there is a lot of preflop charts that you can find on different training sites like, “Upswing Poker” and “Raise your edge”. If you are unsure whether to play a particular hand, write it down and then check the preflop chart. In this way, you will quickly learn this by heart.

What style should you use?

For all new players, I’m re-refining the TAG strategy. TAG stands for tight and aggressive. This means that you should only play your strong hands and once you play them you should play them aggressively.

TAG is a great style for every beginner. When you move up to higher stakes and become a better player you can change a bit so you create your own style. Because you only play good cards it keeps you out of too many tough spots. This gives you a clear advantage over other new players that playing a much looser range.

There is another popular style called LAG which of course means Loose and Aggressive. This playstyle force you to play a lot more hands than TAG. You can earn more money playing LAG than TAG but it’s also a lot harder to become good at. So only start playing the LAG style after you have become good at TAG!

Don’t tilt!

Most people have played some strategy game with their friends and all of a sudden you’re unlucky. How do you usually behave? I usually rage say a few profanity moths and completely lose concentration this is what is called “Tilt”. A lot of people experience this and I absolutely that it’s easy to start tilting been there done that so to speak. Fortunately, it doesn’t matter much if you lose concentration when you only play because it’s fun. But if you want to make money playing poker, you can’t tilt just because you lost an all-in with AA VS KK. Because then you lose concentration and no longer play your A-game. And when you no longer play your a-game, you make mistakes you wouldn’t otherwise make. For example:

Let’s say you lose a pot with AA vs KK, you get frustrated, and then at the other table, you make a very questionable call with j5of that you know you shouldn’t do. You are calling all streets on J2287 and looses to AJ. You may think again why am I so unlucky, but after some thoughts, you realize you shouldn’t even be playing this hand from the beginning. This kind of situation is common for a lot of poker players when they tilt. Only one badly played hand can be the difference between a winning and a losing session. I have listed some tips below that can be useful if you feel that you having a problem with tilting.

Take a short break and come back stronger
Have a stop loss.

Taking a break is something I do when I feel that I’m losing my head. It can help just going to the kitchen, grab a fruit, sit down in 5 min and then you are ready again.

Having a stop loss means that you end your session if you have lost a certain amount of buy-ins. Some players even have a stop win, because when they are winning a lot they stop focus and make some bad plays which make them winless than they should. But remember that these tips only work if you are playing cash games, if you are a tournament player it’s even more important that you don’t tilt cause you can’t leave the table whenever you want.

“Tilting in poker can be the only difference if you are a winning or a losing player.”


So is it possible to make money playing Poker? Yes, it is possible although I can assure you that it won’t be easy and it isn’t something for everyone. You have to put in a lot of time and energy. Something that is important to remember is that people learn differently quickly. If we say one goal is to make $10,000, it can take 1 year for someone and 3 years for someone else. You also cant play Poker just because you want to earn some money. You have to love playing Poker otherwise it won’t work. Good luck and happy grinding!

Make Money Playing Poker FAQ

Is there any difference between Poker and a normal casino game?

Yes is the simple answer to that question. When you play poker you play against other players. The house takes out a rake from every pot (often 5%) but that’s only so they can pay the dealers etc. A casino game on the other hand let’s say blackjack is totally different because there you play vs the house (The house=the casino), and the house always has an edge on you. So if you want to earn some money while you “gamble”, Poker is the right game for you.

How much money can I make playing Poker?

This is a very hard question to answer because there is no limit to how much you can make in poker. Some of the highest live cash games are behind closed doors so it’s impossible to know. The reason why they are playing behind closed doors is that the rich businessmen that mostly play because it’s fun, don’t want to give out information to the public.

But for online players, the best players in both cash games and tournaments can make 500 k $ to a couple of million per year. For live players, I would guess the top 10 earners make at least a couple of million per year. Not a bad salary playing a silly card game;)

What site should I play on?

It all depends on what you’re after. If you want a chance to win large sums at tournaments, Pokerstars is recommended. Cash games are also available here up to very high levels.

If you are looking for smaller fields instead, I would recommend Unibet. However, there is no high stake available here because thy cash games are not available at as high levels as Pokerstars. Because they want mainly amateur players to have the best gamble experience possible.

How much money do I need to make to be able to have poker as full-time work?

This totally depends on where you live and how high your living costs are. If you want to live like a king in a nice apartment and drive a Ferrari you of course have to earn more than if you live a simpler life. I’m going to list some different kinds of lifestyles

If you live in a western country like America or somewhere in Europe I would recommend that you make at least 4000 dollars/month because living expenses in these countries are pretty high. So if you want to live in a western country I think that you should play at least 200 nl online or 2/5 live.

A popular country for many poker players is Thailand. Here you can live a luxurious life much cheaper than in the western world. If you want to live in Thailand, it’s enough with $2,000 a month. This will also be positive as it does not put as much pressure on you. So if you want to make a living in a country like Thailand I recommend that you play at least 50 nl online or 1/2 live.


Author: Eric Jackson