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Poker News | PokerWorks Op-Ed

Poker Plus – A Hard Way to Make Easy Money

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For years I have heard poker players say that playing poker IS a hard way to make an easy living and they are right. If you have ever had dreams of quitting your day job and flipping chips, make sure you can put up with the ups and downs. Not only the up and down yo-yo effect to your bankroll, but the mental frustration as well.

Many players get on a roll and think playing poker is easy.
Sure it is, when you can seem to do no wrong and the cards are falling your way. This lucky streak can last for weeks and even many months, giving a player a false sense of poker bliss. It is at this point that many newcomers to poker decide they want to play poker fulltime and get more of that easy money. But what happens when their luck turns cold and reality sets in? Hopefully when this happens the player hasn’t taken the big plunge and relies only on their poker winnings to survive. If playing poker for a living was easy it wouldn’t be dubbed “grinding” it would just be called playing. For anyone thinking they can make a living playing poker or want to create a bankroll from nothing, they could learn something from three players from PokerWorks.

Over the last year there has been a project happening on PokerWorks involving three poker players. The fact that they are all women is not an issue, what they have been trying to do is a challenge to any poker player, no matter what gender they are. The project was called Chasing Chris Ferguson (CCF), so named because they were chasing his accomplishment of turning nothing into something.  Of course this was attempted playing poker and starting with a zero bankroll balance, not one single penny. Many players have been able to accomplish turning a few dollars or no dollars into a bankroll, but Mr. Ferguson was the most successful and celebrated player to do so and these gals wanted to see if they could do it too.

They gave themselves a year to see how close to Mr. Ferguson’s $10,000 mark they could get. Like any endeavor to make something out of nothing, they were in for a year of triumph, tragedy, frustration and fortitude. It is easy to play when you have a bankroll, are lucky or just playing for fun. When you have a goal you are striving for, you have to play and play often, no matter how your luck is running. Not only did they have to play to win, but they committed to blog about their play two or three times a week. If they didn’t play, they had nothing to blog about and that would be shirking their responsibility to the project. So - play they did.

Two of the players had been playing for years, one was a beginner. It was interesting to see how the beginner would hold up and if she could outshine the two seasoned players. The beginner chose to play at Full Tilt Poker; the other two chose PokerStars although they were all free to play wherever they wanted. After their first win, the PokerStars players stayed there because that is where their bankroll was, the beginner bounced around trying to win something anywhere.

The biggest obstacle to the players starting the CCF challenge was finding tournaments that were freerolls but paid real cash. The freerolls on PokerStars pay either 99 or 88 places, depending on if the game is Hold’em or Omaha, but they paid in tickets, for an entry to a round 2 tournament. Then you have to place in the money in that round 2 tourney to win real cash. This is where the players on PokerStars had to start and basically win two tournaments to make any real money. There was also a special tournament event going on at PokerStars when the girls started last year. It was a freeroll to the Caribbean Adventure (PCA) in the Bahamas. In addition to paying entries to another tournament to have a shot at the big event, this satellite freeroll also paid cash.

Placing in this freeroll is really how I got my start to building my bankroll on CCF - with a whopping $1 win. The same tourney the next week added another $1.20 to my tiny bankroll and a $2.20 win in a round 2 tourney gave me a whopping $4.20 after playing for a week. Easy money huh?

I played every day, sometimes in several tournaments a day to get those four bucks in my bankroll. If I was trying to figure an hourly wage for my play it may have been 1/100th of a cent an hour. Good thing I was in it for the sheer challenge of the whole thing, not how much money I could make as fast as possible. When I had managed to get my bankroll up to a whopping $10.00 after two weeks of hard labor, I started playing in the micro limit Seven Card stud Hi/Lo split cash games.

And of course I kept up with playing in tournaments too, with my biggest score coming about three weeks into the CCF project when entered a $2.20 buy-in No Limit Hold’em tournament. I managed to come in 7th and add $72.10 to my bankroll which was huge.

When Mr. Ferguson was pursuing his goal he had strict rules he followed. If you are curious about his bankroll management and other rules, check it out on Full Tilt Poker, there is a lot of information on what he did and how he did it. We girls however, had no rules except to see how well we could do starting with nothing. It was because of this no rules policy that two of us were able to enter tournaments we really shouldn’t have, because of our bankroll size. We admit we got lucky, we made money in them and it pushed us further down the building our bankroll road.

The lessons learned during this year long endeavor were many. First of all it takes an almost super-human amount of patience and endurance to make money playing poker by starting from scratch.  If this had been a real job I would have been paying my boss for the privilege of working for him - that is how low my wages have been. The frustration level is off the chart when you play your best for 4 hours only to bust out just a hair from winning any money. The patience dies fast when you sit for 2 hours and never have a hand to play, then see something that looks like a dream A-A, only to have it stuffed in your ear by a K-4 off suit who called your big raise. This is the reality of playing poker, the bad beats, the loss of sleep; the hours invested for no gain are all a big part of the game. But it is still the challenge that keeps us going back for more, to see if I can win, if I am good or lucky enough to make it and come out ahead.

The CCF challenge will be over tomorrow, the 13th, but you can read about all of our triumphs, failures, mistakes and brilliant play on the CFF blog.
You can also see how we ended up and how close we came or how far we were from matching Mr. Fergusons achievement. If you have any thoughts about playing for a living, or starting out with nothing, read the blogs, it may save you a few bald spots!

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