One of the best things about poker is that it offers a chance to make profits. You can earn a fortune with this game if you’re skilled enough. You may dream about making $1 million or more through poker. If so, you can look to players like Dan “Jungleman” Cates, Phil Ivey, and Daniel Negreanu as examples of grinders who’ve become rich with the game.

Of course, becoming a highly successful poker player is about far more than simply having idols to look up to. You need to map out a solid path towards reaching big profits. I’m going to discuss several ways that you can go about earning $1 million. Not all of these routes are equally effective, but they each give you a chance to win big through poker.

1 – Earn a Big Tournament Score

Winning a big tournament is the most common way that people become millionaires through poker. WSOPMain Event champions and other major tourney winners have earned multi-million dollar prizes. Chris Moneymaker is the best-known example of an everyday Joe who won big through a tournament. The former Tennessee accountant won a $10,000 WSOP Main Event seat through a PokerStars satellite, then parlayed this into a $2.5 million first-place prize. Moneymaker has since become the poster child for amateurs who want to satisfy their poker dreams through a tournament. Of course, there are plenty of factors to consider before immediately jumping into a big tourney.

The first thing you need to be aware of is that only a small percentage of land-based and online events offer you a chance to get rich. Land-based poker tournaments like the WSOP Main Event, PokerStars Caribbean Adventure Main Event, and Five Diamond World Poker Classic (WPT) are all ways for amateurs to win big. But these are only a handful of tourneys. If you don’t want to travel to a casino to play, you can also try to win big through online poker tournaments. PokerStars features both the World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP) and Spring Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP) events, which offer multiple big tournaments.

Again, though, you’re dealing with a limited number of huge online tourneys each year. Moreover, PokerStars is the only place to find events capable of making you a millionaire. The poker world features dozens of land-based high rollers that offer payouts worth $1 million or more. However the downside is that the buy-ins often cost six figures. This brings me to another point in that buy-ins to big tournaments are costly. Even the “cheap” major events require a $5,000 or $10,000 entry fee.

This is a lotto spend on a single shot at hopefully becoming rich. You’re essentially playing a skill-based version of the lottery in these instances. Even the most skilled players can go through hundreds of buy-ins before finally taking down a major tournament. Therefore, you’d need a huge stroke of luck in order to turn a single buy-in into a massive payout. Assuming you don’t have a huge bankroll to afford tournament buy-ins, you can use online satellites to win an expensive land-based or online tourney seat.

The dilemma here, though, is that satellites force you to go through more layers before you even have a seat in the real event. The smaller your starting satellite, the lower your chances of earning a seat. None of this is meant to completely discourage you from playing poker tournaments. Instead, I simply want to present the realities of being able to earn a huge one-off score. The more likely path to getting rich through poker tourneys is grinding in lots of them over time and slowly building your bankroll. Playing more tournaments gives you many opportunities to win payouts worth five or six figures. If you continue racking up big scores over the years, then perhaps one day you’ll be a millionaire.

2 – Become a Successful Live High Stakes Cash Player

High stakes poker is the most-romanticized part of the game. There’s good reason for this too, because high stakes grinders have the type of bankrolls that help them generate profits much quicker than the average player. Games held at Macau’s StarWorld Casino and the Bellagio (Bobby’s Room) feature blinds going up to $4,000/$8,000.

Here’s an example on how quickly you can reach a huge profit with an average win rate in the $4k/$8k game:

  • You win half one small blind every hour ($4k).
  • You play at Bobby’s Room 40 hours per week.
  • 4,000 x 40 = $160,000 per week
  • 160,000 x 52 weeks = $8.32 million per year

The biggest barrier to be becoming a live high stakes grinder is actually having the bankroll to do so. If you follow sound bankroll management principles – which call on you to have at least 20 buy-ins (100 big blinds) for a no-limit cash game level–you’d need $16 million play in the Bellagio’s biggest game (8,000 x 100 x 20). Of course, there are plenty of high stakes games that have smaller stakes than this. You can still win serious profits by playing at $100/$200 and $200/$400 tables.

Here’s an example on reaching seven figures through one of these games:

  • You play in a $100/$200 no-limit cash game.
  • You win one big blind every hour ($200).
  • You play 40 hours per week.
  • 200 x 40 = $8,000 per week
  • 8,000 x 52 weeks = $416,000 per year
  • 1,000,000 / 416,000 = 2.4 years

Skill level is another major consideration before trying to become a high stakes pro. But considering that these are the highest stakes poker has to offer, they also draw bigger sharks. Dan Cates, Tom Dwan, Brian Rast, and Phil Ivey and are some of the world’s best cash players. They all play in the big games in Vegas and/or Macau.

Even winning half a big blind per hour against this type of competition is tough. Such a small win rate would also subject you to major downswings, where your bankroll would be in serious jeopardy before you start winning again. Most high stakes players grind their way up from the low levels and develop the skills they need to win. Therefore, you might need to toil away in the lower stakes for years before you’re capable of battling the game’s best. Nevertheless, becoming a high stakes pro is a dream worth having. This is especially the case when considering that high stakes is the most viable way to win millions of dollars.

3 – Become a Winning Online High Stakes Cash Player

Many modern poker legends have been born out of online high stakes games. Players like Tom Dwan, Viktor Blom, Ben Sulsky, and Phil Galfond all made their names through the internet nosebleeds. The online high limit scene really blossomed in the late 2000s, when these players battled with each other on a daily basis. The same pros all won millions of dollars in cash profits during their peak.

Unfortunately, high stakes online poker has faded over the years. Full Tilt Poker, where most of the legendary high stakes action took place, got rid of their nosebleeds in 2015. PokerStars has no-limit tables with $200/$400 blinds. But this doesn’t equal the $500/$1,000 games that Full Tilt offered until the mid-2010s.

Compounding matters is that no other site besides PokerStars offers high stakes play on a consistent basis. This means that you have to play at Stars or nowhere if you want the best shot at winning big through internet high limits. Despite all these drawbacks, you can still earn plenty of money by being an online high roller. “BERRI SWEET” ($1.77m) and Timofey “Trueteller” Kuznetsov ($1.45m)each made seven figures in 2017.

Aside from the profit potential, another benefit to the internet high limit scene is that there’s no travel involved. You don’t have to live in Vegas or Macau just to find big games. Of course, the same barriers in live high stakes poker are also featured in the online game. You still need a giant bankroll and the skills to compete with the world’s best. You’ll also need to dedicate more time to playing online nosebleeds,because the stakes aren’t as big as a StarWorld or Bobby’s Room game.

Here’s an example of what it would take to earn $1 million through the “smaller” high stakes tables:

  • You play in a $50/$100 NL cash game.
  • You win one big blind every hour ($100).
  • You play 40 hours per week.
  • 100 x 40 = $4,000 per week
  • 4,000 x 52 weeks = $208,000 per year
  • 1,000,000 / 416,000 = 4.8 years

Much like a lot of high stakes players, the biggest online grinders usually work their way up through the limits. This allows them to both improve their skills and build a bankroll as they march towards the top.

4 – Multi Table and Collect Rakeback

You may not have the heart for risking a massive amount of money in high stakes games and dealing with multi-million dollar swings. In this case, you can always try to earn $1 million the hard way by multi-tabling online. This path relies on generating small winnings on lots of tables and collecting rakeback in the process.

It may seem virtually impossible to win seven figures by playing stakes ranging from $1/$2 to $5/$10. But Randy “nanonoko” Lew has won$3 million (approx. 25% from rakeback) in his career by focusing exclusively on low stakes multi-tabling. Of course, Lew is an exception to the norm because he can consistently profit when multi-tabling 24 tables. However, the current Hearthstone pro is one example of somebody who’s won big with this method.

The first step to successful multi-tabling is improving your ability to make quick poker decisions. You’ll likely struggle to handle 2-4 tables in the beginning. Multi-tabling is a unique skill that requires training to develop. Therefore, you want to start at micro stakes and simply work on making good decisions in short order. You also need to master clicking through all of the available tables. Learning keyboard shortcuts can help with this task. The goal is to slowly build the amount of tables that you can handle simultaneously. You can make great profits by playing 12 tables or more.

This second key to winning lots of money with this method is finding a good rakeback deal. This term refers to poker sites paying you back a percentage of the rake you contribute. Rakeback offers aren’t as generous as they once were. But you can still find deals that reward you with anywhere from 20% to 50% (higher VIPs). Even if you do everything I’ve discussed up to this point, it’ll likely take you years to earn $1 million through multi-tabling and rakeback. But you can at least look forward to a six-figure salary if you’re one of the best multi-tablers. This can eventually blossom into a seven-figure profit over time.

5 – Lottery Style SNGs

Most people think of winning major poker profits through their skill alone. But lottery style sit and go’s give you an opportunity to combine luck with skill in order to win big. A lottery SNG sees a random prize pool generated before the start of the tournament. Once the prize pool is determined, you and two other players compete for it.

In most cases, the prizes are worth less than the table’s combined buy-ins. Therefore, lottery SNGs are a losing proposition for the vast majority of players. But just like regular lotteries, the hope is that your three-player table draws a massive prize. You can then use your skills to try and win the larger share of the pool.

PokerStars has paid out multiple $1 million prizes to lottery SNG winners. These types of wins are rare, but they do happen. Of course, you may not ultimately end up a millionaire even after winning a payout this big. Some countries (e.g. United States) tax gambling winners heavily and cut into their profits. In any case, you can still look forward to the chance of winning big prizes through these tournaments. Lottery SNGs are especially worthwhile if you want to win big through poker without dedicating countless hours to the matter.

6 – Combine Social Media Following w/ Successful Play

Up until the late 2010s, the easiest way for a poker pro to gain visibility was by appearing on TV shows like Poker After Dark and High Stakes Poker. Shows like these still exist to a smaller degree today. But the majority of poker pros now make their fame through social media channels. Many poker players are active on Twitter, which lets them offer glimpses into their high-roller lifestyles and/or comment on recent issues surrounding the game.

The streaming platform Twitch now gives players a chance to stream online poker sessions and chat while doing so. Those who are entertaining and offer helpful tips while streaming stand a good chance of gaining followers. Jason Somerville, who was one of the earliest poker pros to stream via Twitch, has over 225,000 followers on his “Run It Up” channel.

YouTube is yet another way that poker pros can capture an audience. Players can make training videos, discuss current events, and showcase their best hands. Doug Polk, who runs the YouTube channel “Doug Polk Poker,” has amassed over 220,000 followers. Jaime Staples is another big YouTuber, boasting 60,000 followers.

Of course, one needs a way to convert these audiences into money before capitalizing. And it’s hard to quantify the value of a large following in every case. Twitch and YouTube have more obvious methods of calculating value, because they pay people directly for views.Players with a social media following can further supplement their income with successful play. Combining good poker results with social media success offers a quicker path to riches than just playing alone.

7 – Earn a Sponsorship Deal

Sponsorship deals used to be a bigger part of poker. Many successful players could bank on landing a sponsorship after they won a couple of major tournaments. Some of the top players have earned millions of dollars from their sponsorships alone. Times have changed, though, with online poker sites doing a better job of watching their budgets. But it’s still possible to land a sponsorship in certain cases. The key thing to realize is that sites no longer sponsor players for poker success alone.

Instead, one needs to bring more to the table than just successful results. Being a professional athlete, having a large social media following, ingraining oneself in the poker community, and being an attractive female are all extra attributes that can lead to a deal. Of course, one still needs to be good at poker or at least demonstrate a love for the game. Poker sites no longer sign models or celebrities solely because they’re famous/good looking. The value of a sponsorship can vary greatly depending upon the poker site, player’s success rate, and their fame away from the felt.

Jaime Staples is a good poker player who’s equally adept at Twitch streaming and YouTubing. But his PokerStars sponsorship isn’t going to pay the same as Juventus striker Cristiano Ronaldo’s deal. Nevertheless, it’s possible to get sponsored if you become good enough at poker and bring value in one or more areas. You can combine any salary from a deal with good results to win lots of money.

Making $1 million in poker profits has gotten tougher throughout the years. Strategy is widely available, and players realize that they need to study in order to improve. But this isn’t to say that it’s completely unfathomable to earn seven figures. Again, some of the players starting out today will eventually become millionaires through the game.

You need to possess the right mentality about moving up and taking advantage of all opportunities to get rich. You may be gifted enough to make all of your profits through playing cash games or tournaments. But chances are that you’ll need to supplement your winnings with another income stream.

Twitch and YouTube offer direct pay for viewers. Twitter can indirectly lead to more money if you’re able to land a sponsorship. Of course, it never hurts to simply get lucky either. You may set out with every intention of grinding your way up the ranks But it’s so much simpler to get hot in a major tournament or win big in a lottery SNG. I wouldn’t count on luck, though, because poker already offers you a unique avenue towards profits through skill-based play.

Bankroll management is another crucial factor with regard to making a poker fortune. You should have at least 75-100 multi-table tournament buy-ins or 30 cash game buy-ins for whatever stakes you play. Maintaining strict bankroll management is key when considering that you don’t want to lose everything you’ve gained with a single downswing. Instead, make sure you have adequate funds for whatever level you start with.

Very few players are actually able to win seven figures in poker. But don’t let this crush your dreams if you want to be highly successful. Focus on the best path in your situation to make $1 million and take the necessary steps to reach your goal. On the same token, though, don’t quit your day job just yet since it’s a long grind to get there.

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