Disclaimer: The following is very subjective and are just my personal views. Reader discretion is advised.
I thought I’d compare being a poker player versus being a web publisher for a living. First, I’d like to note that I have a lot of experience in both fields and should thus have a pretty fair vantage point.
I’ve been making a living as a web publisher for the past couple years and in 2006 made around $100,000. In poker, I’m not a professional or even a high stakes player. And to be honest, I’ve never made huge amounts of money in poker, but I have definitely played my fair share of the game. When I used to play, I would play online for 8-10 hours a day, everyday, and I’d play 9-10 tables at once.
Now, I’m sure a lot of people out there have watched poker on TV and admired the professionals thinking “Man, I wish I could play poker for a living”, but for the sake of this post, let’s stick to online poker. The biggest problem people may not really know who don’t play poker, is that if you want to play poker for a living, you’re going to have to put in a lot of hours.
Most poker players I know, and I know a lot, are like me when I play and play all day long, usually every single day. Now, sure, some guys only need to log in, play for half an hour, make $1,000-$5,000 and log out. It should be noted, however, that when playing poker for a living, all money you make is really relative to your bankroll. For example, you could win a $5,000 pot, but if your bankroll is only $100,000, that pot you just won is 5% of your bankroll. That means that you could have just as easily lost $5,000 and then lost basically 5% of your job, since your job relies on your bankroll.
And yes, if you start to lose, you can just drop down limits and work your way up again, but that just enforces my point; in order to play winning poker consistently and for a living, you have to play many, many, hands and log a lot of hours. Variance, which is the amount of deviation from breaking even, is a major factor for poker players. Going on losing streaks is part of the game, and poker players need large bankrolls to support themselves for when this happens. So even when poker player win, it doesn’t change anything – they are basically just rebuilding their bankroll in case of losing streaks.
What I’m trying to say here is that poker players who play for a living need to log a lot of hours, period. Sorry that took so long to say…
Compare that to web developers who need only work an hour or two a day, perhaps 3-4 or even more, consider this: poker players always need to play in order to make money, whereas a web publisher can create a site and have the site make him the money while he goes on vacation. The difference is that the web publisher only needs to check in from time to time, whereas the poker player must always spend time in order to make money.
Another comparison to note would be the legalization and social comparison. Trust me, it’s near impossible for internet poker players to get loans from the bank. Then there’s issues such as the recent US legislation bill that has really made it difficult for US players to move money around to play online. While being a self-employed web publisher may not be as good as working a ‘normal’ job to get a loan and such, it looks a hell of a lot better than putting down “internet poker player” on the occupation line.
Now, I can hear people saying “Hey, but I know a guy who makes $5,000 a day on AVERAGE playing online poker.” Well sure… that’s great obviously. I mean, that’s just under 2 million dollars a year, if he played every single day, 365-days a year, and won $5000 a day consistently. I won’t mention, or maybe I will, that a web publisher need not spend so much time working. But this brings up a very good point I’d like to mention. That $5000 a day poker player is not your average poker player. He’s one in the upper echelons, wouldn’t you say? Compare that to a web publisher in the upper echelons as well. How much is he making?
I think a lot of people, if they compared poker players to web publishers, may consider the web publishers making $100-200 a day. Well, don’t forget that web publishers have big earners too. If you want to compare a web entrepreneur to a celebrity poker player, you may get a better picture.
Take one of the best poker players in the world… Phil Ivey, Phil Hellmuth, Daniel Negraneau… how much do you think they make per year? I have absolutely no idea.. but let’s factor out royalties from TV and movies, investments, etc., and focus only on pure poker earnings. Let’s say the average top poker pro makes around $10,000,000 a year – which is being generous. Compare that to how much the top web entrepreneurs make. Think… eBay, Yahoo!, Amazon, Google, etc. And the comparison would be difficult to exactly compare since most of their money is tied up in stock options and such, but you can expect it to be very large.
However, you could argue the point that poker has a more… lively and interesting lifestyle. You get to socialize a lot, travel, and meet a lot of great people. However, you can also do that with web publishing, but anyhow we’re talking here about online poker playing for a living, not live poker.
I’m not trying to bash poker, but I think that playing poker for a living is a lot more glamorous than many people may think. I still love playing poker, but I’d never choose it as a profession.
Ugh, I must apologize. This post is pure ramble and without proper struture, but I’ve always wanted to compare the two… professions. What do you think?