Online poker, just like live poker, can be extremely profitable for those who understand the game and use solid strategies. It does take a little effort, a good mindset, some math skills and the proper motivation to be successful in poker, especially online.
While both the online and live versions of the game come with the same set of rules and pretty much any strategy you learn will apply to both, there are still some noteworthy differences.
Online poker relies much more on math, statistics, and playing “correctly” and working your odds, while live poker also has the added element of human interaction which translates into the necessity of being able to conceal your emotions and hide your feelings in order to pull off a bluff or to lure people into paying their way into a pot you know for sure you are about to win.
Not all poker competitions look the same though. Cash games and tournaments are completely different and cannot be approached with the same strategy. While tournaments are notorious for their huge prizes where people can even end up winning a couple hundred times their buy-in amount, they also require a considerable time commitment and a bit more luck than cash games.
Can cash games be really profitable?
The main question to answer is why would someone choose to play a cash game instead of a tournament, where they could win ridiculous amounts? Well because the odds favor cash games in terms of long-term profitability.
Playing a tournament against thousands of players and winning the top prize is a dream for most of us, but let’s face it, the odds of that ever happening to all of us are rather small. For the most part, tournaments are quite hard to win, and even poker pros have a tough time reaching the final stages.
Cash games on the other hand, even though they do not display the same amazing prizes, can be extremely profitable in the long run. That’s especially true in online games, but also live. Cash games give you the amazing opportunity of quitting while you are ahead, which is invaluable. You went to the casino with 50$ in your pocket and doubled up? Perfect, stand up from the table and go home. You can return tomorrow with 50$ and keep your profits.
How to maximize profits in cash games
Aside from learning the game and applying the right strategies, there are a couple of other things you can do in order to maximize your profits when playing cash games.
Play the right stakes
Apply the right bankroll management strategy when selecting your stakes. The rule of thumb is that your balance should cover at least 100 max buy-ins at the stakes you play. Moving up or down from one stake to another depends on your profitability, but you should never avoid making the move.
Whether you play online or live, make sure you are completely focused on the game and not on other things. Playing online from home while watching a movie or playing live and scrolling your social media feeds at the table is never a good idea. You have to pay attention not only when you are involved in a hand, but also as an observer. You need to see how the rest of your opponents are playing and try and gather intel on them constantly.
Target the fish
If you’re paying attention, you will also notice who the less experienced players at your table are. If you can’t figure out who the fish is at your table, just know that it’s probably you. You should leave that table and join another one. Once you have a fish in your target, take advantage of them and try to get as much money from them as possible.
Set a stop-loss limit
Both in live and online poker, it’s important to play within your means and to set a limit to how much you allow yourself to win in a day. This will put your terrible downswings on pause until the next day, which will also allow you to regroup, start fresh and give yourself a brand new chance at winning your next session. Chasing losses is a huge mistake in poker, exactly as it is in other real money games.
Set a time limit for your sessions
Losing track of time is a real possibility when you play poker, whether you do it live or online. The game is interesting and exciting and you always have something to do or at least observe. Not being constantly aware of the time you spend playing is a dangerous thing and can have serious consequences. You can get tired and start making bad decisions even if you don’t realize it.
You can end up losing a lot more than you can afford or even realize that you lost an entire day and accomplished nothing else than playing poker. Set yourself some limits and follow your rules. You will be much better off.
Final thoughts on cash game profitability
Cash games can be just as, if not even more profitable than tournaments or other types of poker competitions. The thing to remember is that the nice profits from cash games will come in time, and you won’t get rich over night.