Doug Polk has created a Vlogging formula within the poker world that should not be overlooked because of how compelling the material is. He’s a high limit poker player who regards himself as the best NL Heads Up player in the world at the current time. I can’t write much on his game but I’ve been following his videos and antics for a few months now. His delivery in the Video Blog format is pretty damn good and I would copy it once I feel like putting in the time (or have any content of interest which currently does not exist). He stirs up the pot and divulges what’s actually happening in the poker world which I’m sure people dislike him for.

Anyway, he created this video called How Much Money Do Poker Players REALLY Have?

I’ll answer the question since I know you won’t watch, the answer is WAY less than you think. Aside from guys who strike it rich in big tournaments, or guys consistently beating the higher stakes online, most likely a poker player is not that wealthy. Doug makes good points like traveling costs, taxes, rake, tough games, being staked by other people, and generally having bad bankroll management that isn’t conducive to making money. A few examples:

  • A mid stakes, online, (2/5) grinder, who plays a million hands a year, can make 150k. A million hands is a lot of hands by the way and this was at a win rate of 3bb/hour. This number ranges depending on how good you are.
  • Higher stakes online players can make more, but game selection dries up and there isn’t as much easy competition.
  • Online tournament players who enter 400k of buy ins for tournaments, and have an ROI of 50% (this is quite good, mine was 8% when I used to play), they only make 200k every year. Taxes not included.
  • A live tournament player who buys in for 500k of tournaments, who has a high ROI of 100%, will make 500k. WRONG. Travel expenses, taxes. Yada yada.
  • Live cash games he said have the most money being thrown around and are the most difficult to track.

Now, the point of this post was to actually look at how much money is being thrown around in High Stakes Poker. When I was in college, I couldn’t conceive how much money these guys were playing for. I thought they were playing for millions of dollars which does happen from time to time but I didn’t look that closely. These million dollar pots are the rare exceptions in televised poker. It should be noted these guys bought in for between 100k-250k in the video below.

That hand was a 575k pot in a 400/800 game. This was when High Stakes Poker was at its biggest on TV. Nowadays on the Poker Night in America, that just came to the Sugarhouse, the big game was people playing 50/100 and some players were buying into these TV games with 10k. Heck, people I know could buy into this game. These games have gotten smaller as online poker has squelched and the games fish have left the pond.

The point I’m making is that when these maniacs in High Stakes Poker, playing 10 years ago, WERE PLAYING FOR A LOT OF THEIR MONEY. I don’t know what their bankroll is, but you can tell that when guys get it all in, and it’s time to gamble, they are thinking real carefully how it will alter their current financial situation. I used to think these players bankrolls were endless, but after watching Doug’s video, you get the impressions that these guys aren’t as rich as you think. A bad day’s loss hurts the soul. Watch this video of Vanessa Selbst losing 6 figures like a noob.