Playing Poker for a Living

What to expect when the card game is your bread and butter

Pius Heinz, the German poker champion, is famous for being the first German poker player to win the coveted World Series of Poker Main Event bracelet back in 2011. He is one of the many Germans who are fond of the universal card game, and who rakes in cash when opponents at the poker table are outwitted. Heinz did not originally intend to be a professional player; in fact, he studied Business Psychology at a school in Cologne. He got interested in the card game when he watched poker events on TV, and with a few practice sessions with friends, he decided to venture into it full time. His poker skills were fully developed when he played the game online. His online winnings amount to $129,401, and he won a total of $8,895,057 in casino earnings to date.

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More and more people in the US and in Europe, especially in France and Germany, are making a career out of playing online poker. A recent documentary entitled Bet Raise Fold: The Story of Online Poker followed the boom of online poker, starting from the launch of partypoker’s World Poker Tour which coincided with Chris Moneymaker’s big victory in the World Series of Poker Main Event. The film centered on the lifestyle of professional online poker players named Martin Bradstreet (an Australian world traveler), Danielle Moon-Anderson (a stay-at-home Mom), and Tony Dunst (host of WPT TV).

Another documentary, Real Poker, enumerated the positive and negative aspects of focusing solely on playing online poker. Surprisingly, even degree-holders from German universities and professionals who work 9-to-5 turn to online poker for additional income. This is done not only when they have free time or during weekends; they actually make it a point to log in and participate in online poker tournaments at least once a day. Mark Maxwell, who earned a university degree from one of the most prestigious schools in the world, is passionate about playing poker online and makes around $40 per hour. He said that the good thing about online poker is that you’re free to engage in a number of poker tables at the same time, which will increase your chances of winning real cash. This is one of the main differences of online poker from land-based casinos where you’re allowed to play on only one poker table at a time.

There are obvious advantages of playing poker for a living. First, there’s no one to boss you around, so that translates to less stress. You have no strict schedule, so you get to choose your own “working hours”. Since you have no work deadlines to speak of, you can schedule trips to Berlin without a hassle. However, there’s a disadvantage too. The earnings are not really a set income; like every gamble, there’s no certainty that you’ll win the pot all the time.

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