Don’t play poker if…

I actually don’t know the answer there, you just fill in the black and let me know.

The mention of poker itself brings us to (1) imagining guys on a round table; (2)  trying to fool each other; and (3) losing a LOT of money.

The first one is not always true; the second one, mainly relies on psychology; the third one, is you have to be always prepared to lose a LOT of money.

(On a related note, here is my brief Macau poker scene review).

Read on, don’t be discouraged by number 3, because playing card games that involves betting is just taking calculated risk, meaning you know how much you can lose.

I know you still have some preoccupations. You might think “Hold on Gerald. Are you certain that I can make money playing cards?”

Yes, I am – and in fact you can make a whole lot if you become good at it and find the right games.

Poker is a skill-based game, so forget everything you’ve been told by your ‘good meaning’ father.

Yes, it can be mainly luck in the short-term, but never in the long-term. If you intend to make living on Poker, you’ve got to think twice.

The good thing about poker is that you can control your decisions. If and when you make better decisions than your opponents do, you ultimately make more money than them. And that’s when you can test your mental willpower.

It’s a mental game that requires enormous discipline (what most people don’t have).

The right combination lies in becoming a technically strong and very disciplined player.

I was about 16 years old when a friend first introduced me to the game. It didn’t take too long for me to really get obsessed by poker, so I started playing almost every day.

Like in anything, in order to excel at a high level you need superb dedication. Like any other skill, it requires deliberate practice. Then it will work.

Live Poker vs Online Poker

I won’t be discussing online poker here. I’ve played quite a bit of online poker, but I’m more of a live player and this is what I now invest in. Is much tougher to make money in online poker these days. This is due to development of tracking software. Also, many online players are very dedicated to their game, especially when looking at mid stakes poker games. They have played millions of hands and know how to get a hand right. Online poker can already be competitive at low stakes games such as $0.50/$1 blinds.

No Limited Holdem Live poker is what you play at your local casino. Depending on where you’re at, I mean which country you’re situated in, games will be soft or hard.

I live in the Orient and many games here are soft – exactly what I’m looking for.

Why is that? Well, in the Asian culture, poker is seen as gambling, not a mental game. So most players approach the table with a gambling mindset and don’t care too much about improving their game. When it’s the gambling mindset that persists, players usually are prepared to lose. And entering a battle arena with a losing mindset is a no-no no matter which angle we look at it.

The higher you play, the better players you’ll face. That means the better you have to be to make money at such a competitive game.

Money needed to start playing live poker

If you decide to play in a $3/$6 (Small Blind/Big Blind) game in Macau (by the way, that is about the lowest game you can find in Macau), you should buy in for $600 so 100 Big Blinds. This is just your buy in for this one moment though!

You need a bankroll, call it capital – it’s the same in your business. In live poker, you should have at least 30 buys ins before you commit to playing a certain level. In this case, we assume you would play $3/$6 blinds, so 30 buy ins means $18,000 in working capital. If you would be playing the same stakes online, you would need more buy ins. You play more hands online, and more hands means more variance in the short term.

Having a good amount of buy ins allows you to stay in the game should the cards not fall in your favor. If you only had 3 buys ins, you could be done in 1 to 2 days. The money is here to protect yourself from a  bad run of cards so you can continue competing at the same level and still being comfortable when making decisions.

Be reminded that the $18k reserve does not include flight or accommodation costs! You need to have separate money for this. One day in Macau costs at least $150, that’s about the cheapest hotel including 2 to 3 meals.

Macau is an expensive place. It’s for the wealthy businessmen who can afford to lose thousands of dollars a day. In case you’ve the budget and want to master the game, Macau has the juiciest live poker games in the entire world.

Alternative for people with a lower budget

Philippines is a good place for people who want to play low stakes poker.

Manila has plenty of poker rooms with $0.50/$1 games (PHP 25/50). So you can buy in for $100 and a $3,000 bankroll would be sufficient to compete at this level. Most games in Manila are $0.25/$0.50 (PHP 10/20) up to $1/$2 games (PHP 100/200), but you will hardly find any higher games.


Thoughts to get started

  1. Involve yourself with the game. If you’re completely new to it, get started with the basics.
  2. Proper bankroll management is very important in poker. I recommend a dedicated bank account for this investment. Don’t take money from your living expenses or business account – don’t mess things up. Open up a new account and make a deposit.
  3. Poker is a skill- based game that requires enormous discipline. It’s very important that you calm yourself when sitting at the table. You don’t want to get crushed.
  4. Physical fitness is very important here. If you decide to play 15 to 30 hours a week, then you better be in good shape. Learn to budget your time. 
  5. Aim for excellence. Create strategies on how you can beat different types of players, how you can induce them to play badly and make incorrect decisions.
  6. Learn from your sessions. It’s important that you take note of everything that happened during an individual session so you can adjust your game.
  7. Optimize your decisions.

The thing with poker is it takes money to make money. Similar to starting a business model, you need to have cash before you can sit down at the table. Don’t sit down with $2k if that’s all you have left in your personal account. Be a disciplined player, not a gambler.

I hope this was a short introduction as to what’s involved in poker. More articles on strategies, actual games and other components will be published in the near future.

So, let me know your answer from the question in my title. Looking forward!


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