I turned $20 into $31,000 through online poker and then quit

(See the end of the article for an explanation of the abbreviations used.)

This is the story of my poker career.

I started playing online poker in March 2006, 2 months after my 17th birthday. My 1st deposit was $20. I doubled it up quickly. I then cashed out $20. I then lost the $20 in my account and redeposited $20. I doubled this money up, cashed out $20 and by the end of the week I had $588. $300 of that money came from a 3rd place finish in an MTT (I think it was a $10 buyin event).
I was playing only NLHE, but I played cash games, MTTs and SNGs. There was no structure to the games I was playing. I just chose whatever I felt like on the day.

I knew how to play poker, but I wasn’t great. I had played with friends in the past and played on play money sites. I was clearly very lucky to turn $20 into $600 in a week.

Anyway, $588 was my peak and over the next 4 months I slowly lost all the money in my account. Back to square one.

It’s now around August 2006. Up till now, I had been playing at PokerRoom. I thought I might have better luck at a different site. I joined ParadisePoker and deposited either $50 or $100 – I don’t remember exactly how much. I focused on 10-man SNGs. I played $11 and $5.5 SNGs to start off with and then moved to $22 SNGs after some success at the lower levels. My bankroll reaches a couple of hundred dollars.

Time goes on and I continue to play. In around November 2006 I run out of money on all my online accounts. I still had a profit in my bank account, but none on the internet. For various reasons I couldn’t redeposit for another week, so I started using the player points that I had amassed to buy tournament tickets. I bought a few $5.50 and $11 tickets and entered into 6-man and 10-man SNGs. In my 4th SNG, I finally cash for $17.50. With this money, I entered into a $11 SNG and lost. With the remaining $6.5 I joined a $0.25/0.15 10-man NLHE cashgame ($.25/.15 was the cheapest table at the site). I played very tight. Got lucky and ended the session with $32 in my account. By Jan 2007 I had managed to turn my $32 into $650. I was 4-tabling every day and I gradually made the switch to the 5-handed cash game tables.

In Feb 2007 I go on a down swing. My bankroll falls to $230. $200 of that I tilted away in a $200 cash game. What was I doing playing in that game? No idea. It was tilt.

I then started playing 5 handed $400NL looking for tables with short stacks on them (that I assumed were noobs bankrolled for $15NL $25NL at best and had put there entire bankroll in a high stakes game. A bit similar to me.) I ended up turning my BR into $1050 after playing on a few tables short-stacked and doing a hit and run when I made a nice profit. There was no grinding. I made the big profit in about 2 weeks.

At this point I join the $50NL cash games. I grind my way up to a BR of $1700. In March 2007 I take a shot at the $100NL tables. I get to $1900. I then lose and hit $1600. I now start tilting a bit and hit $1200.

I decide I need a change of site. I join TowerGaming. I deposit $100. Lose it. I deposit another $200. I fall down to $20. I double it up with my A7o allin vs TT preflop at $100NL table. I end the session with $80 at TG. $750 at PokerRoom. $200 in my bank account.

I go on PR and again start playing $400 games looking for players buying in for $97.34 (probably their entire BR). I make $300 doing that. I then switch back to TG and play $50 and $100 cash games and turn my $80 into $660 over a period of a few weeks. Total BR of $1900 now.

I do some bonus whoring at online casinos and make a bit of extra cash.

I decide to start playing $200NL instead of $100NL because I just couldn’t beat $100NL. In April 2007 I have a BR of $4k.

Somewhere around now I started watching CardRunners videos. They are incredible. After reading many books and posting on forums, everything suddenly became so simple with CR. It was sort of disappointing to see how easy poker was, and how you could just watch some videos and get years of effort for free.

In May 2007 I have a BR of $8.5k. I was killing the $200 games. I was playing well, but also on a great run. In the middle of May I decided to go on a 6 week poker break because I had my final school exams approaching. I think the break lasted about a week or two. I continued playing.

In June 2007 I bought PokerTracker and joined PartyPoker. June 25th I finished my exams. I took a break of about 3 weeks from poker in June. My BR is now $12k and I have a 6 week summer break. My plan was to play 40hours of poker a week and make a lot of money. My unrealistic, but possible, goal for the summer was to reach a BR of $50k.

I only managed to play 20 hours of poker a week in my holiday. I made $18k in the 6 weeks. My peak BR was $34.5k. My final BR was $29.5k. I was playing $1000NL and $600NL at the end of the summer.

I then went to Jewish seminary (yeshiva) in Israel for a year. I played a bit in Israel but barely. I finished with a profit of $31,000 from my poker career. I decided to give up poker at yeshiva due to religious reasons.

You can see a graph for a part of my earnings here. You can see the statistics for how I play here.

I did also play some live poker. I finished with back to back victories in tournaments at a poker room for profits of around $1300.

I made about $700 from my poker blog from affiliate links.

I gave about 15% of my total poker winnings to charity.

It was extremely hard to give up the game. I wish I could have gone pro. I did very well in my exams and I have a place to study Maths at a top English University.

I was incredibly lucky throughout my entire poker career. I didn’t ever realize how lucky I was. I was never the one sucking out on everyone, I had my fair share of bad beats and lucky hits. Over the long run though I see that I was extremely lucky to last so long in the poker world. I was never at a loss at any point in my poker career.

Good bye

Key to the abbreviations used in the article:

MTT – multi table tournament, SNG – sit and go, PR – PokerRoom, TG – TowerGaming, BR – bankroll, NLHE – no-limit holdem, NL – no-limit, CR – CardRunners, $100NL – cash game with a max buy-in of $100 and blinds of $1/$0.50 (Similarly for $200NL, $400NL, etc. with the big-blind always being 1% of the max buy-in).

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10 Comments

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10 responses to “I turned $20 into $31,000 through online poker and then quit

  1. Nice post. it’s kinda fun to read what some players go through in the poker world. great story there. 🙂

    you’re one of few though.

  2. Pingback: A Picture From Back In The Day | PokerLife Blog

  3. Very sorry to hear you quitting playing poker…

    If you start blogging again, I´d appreciate if you visit Shark4Life, we are a community powered poker blog with a unique reward system for bloggers!

    Your Blogs pretty cool…, I´d love to see you start blogging again at Shark4Life http://shark4life.com/earn-community-points/

  4. john

    lol, i drive a truck and make that 31 k that your mentioning in 1 year, right now i’ve been working 5 years as a truckdriver and saved more then 150K
    So why gamble, all that stress, thinking, your brain chemistry changes as well, anti social life, good thing you quit poker man, life is too short to gamble everyday,
    one day you will wake up and there wont be any more time to do the thing you always wanted to do. so do it now!

  5. that great…..poker is really skil and luck based game….i always enjoye poker game and his exicited news..thanx for sharing blog

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