I am often asked what the lowest stake level is that enables players to go full time and play online poker for a living. I believe that this is possible playing No-Limit Hold’em for as little as NL25 which is the $0.10-$0.25 level.
Many people would be staggered by just how low that really is but remember that we are talking about online poker here and not live poker. Playing live poker with a crushing earn rate of 20bb/100 would mean $5.00/100 hands. If you only see 25 hands per hour then you would be making $1.25/hour at this stake level.
However live casinos tend not to have stakes as low as that and the lowest live stakes are often $0.50-$1.00 or even $1-$2 in many places. Online play though allows you the advantage to play not only faster poker per table but to also play more tables. The average full ring game online will have around x3 the number of hands of a live game and so this could be 75 hands per hour instead of 25 hands per hour while playing live. The same earn rate would still return 20bb/100 hands but this time the player is making 15bb/hour which is $3.75 per hour.
Now, imagine if you could replicate that over say ten tables and suddenly this player is making close to $40/hour. This is despite having start-up capital of no more than $500 as a solid player wouldn’t need more than 20 buy-ins playing at full ring no limit hold’em! In no other business could you make $80,000 per year from a starting capital of only $500. This is the power of multi-tabling and playing a high number of hands.
In this aspect it isn’t too dissimilar to financial day trading where the majority of traders look to trade as much volume as possible for a very low profit margin. Clearly $5/100 hands is a low profit margin but the key is to be able to play as many hands at a given level as possible. This means that you do not have to lock horns with the best players in order to be a professional poker player. In fact what you are actually doing is allowing the poker site to use their serious seven figure marketing budgets to pull new players into the site for you.
This allows the site’s marketing strategies to work in your favour which doesn’t happen at higher levels because very good players may be just coming to the site from another one purely for the financial incentives.
So in my opinion, the basic pro level at online poker could be as low as NL25. At these levels, you are basically just attempting to take money out of what is a recreational environment. There are not many very good professionals at this level and so you are essentially coming in under the radar. The player pools are so wide that nobody really notices you. It will not get you on the front page of a poker magazine but it certainly is one of the most effective ways to go pro these days.