There’s a reason sports like poker are a gamble – there is not a linear cause and effect method. Misconceptions seem to linger, however, that poker is never a smart financial move. Statistically speaking, that’s not actually the case. When you analyze the betting habits and long-term earnings of people who play poker consistently, the money that they earn may surprise the uninitiated.
This infographic created by 888poker, a global online gaming room and the sponsor of this year’s World Series of Poker, shows how the earnings of poker players align with top athletes in Australia. It’s interesting to note that a very small percentage of athletes make it to the top-earning spots, or even a bench spot on a professional team, but poker requires little but a basic knowledge set of the sport to play. Poker players can get in the game from home, with nothing more than a computer or mobile device and internet connection.
It’s important to note that poker does not have a steady income (to reference that whole non-linear concept mentioned earlier). There are professionals who have years of loss. Every player, and every hand, is different. These statistics are meant to give an accurate depiction of what earnings can truly look like in poker but results will vary.
Consider these statistics:
- 25 percent of poker players end up earning money over the long term
- 10 percent of poker players perform well enough to go professional
- On average, professional poker players earn $50,000 per year – that’s more than Australia’s average gross salary.
So there’s potential to earn more than average – in some cases, a lot more – but how does poker as a sport align with other professional leagues in Australia? Check it out:
- Horse racing jockey: $44,000 average salary (the top earner makes $3.3 million)
- Soccer: $70,000 average salary (the top earner makes $5.5 million)
- Basketball (the NBL): $78,000 average salary (the top earner makes $200,000)
- Rugby (Rugby League): $200,000 average salary (the top earner makes $1.5 million)
- Football (Australian Rules): $250,000 average salary (the top earner makes $1.5 million)
- Cricket (Big Bash League): $500,000 average salary (the top earner makes $4.5 million)
Some of Australia’s elite athletes earn, on average, the same as professional poker players. In both cases, nothing is guaranteed and future earnings don’t always hinge on what has happened in the past. Still, it’s interesting to see that poker players measure up, at least in earnings, to other sports professionals.
So how can you earn money playing poker? There are many strategies, but some basics include:
- Finding games with weaker players. The draw of potentially larger wins may attract you to games with tough opponents, but in the long term you will earn more competing with players below your skill level.
- Playing outside of tournaments. If you really want to build up a steady income playing poker, you have to participate in basic cash games and not just rely on tournament wins. The amount of luck needed for tournaments is greater than everyday play – so make sure both are part of your strategy.
Have you had luck winning at poker? What were your strategies?