Teenagers' Popular Summer Job: Online Poker Player?

from the getting-younger-and-younger dept

We've been wary of news reports over the past few years hyping up various folks who were supposedly making all kinds of money playing online poker. While there clearly are some professional sharks out there who basically prey on bad poker players to take their money, almost every news story seemed to focus on people who (surprise, surprise) only claimed to win money (often lots of it). That's why we were skeptical of the story about a startup that skipped out on raising venture capital, and instead worked on funding the company through poker. Then there were the college students who felt that playing online poker was the best way to pay for college tuition. Even if these stories were accurate, leaving out how rare it is for someone to be able to make that much money in online poker seemed fairly irresponsible. The latest story, however, takes the cake. The San Jose Mercury News has apparently found a bunch of teenagers who saying that playing online poker is much better than getting a summer job. The article tries to portray this plan as not all that unreasonable, because (so the article notes), the kids approach the game as a job, rather than just as "gambling."

Oddly, the article brushes over the fact that online poker remains illegal in the US (well, at least according to the DOJ's interpretation of the law, over which there is some dispute) and most sites have age limits that these kids probably didn't qualify for when they started playing. While the ones profiled are now 19, at least one admits he's been playing online poker since he was a junior in high school. Obviously, a first question from many folks would be about the parents of these kids. Some are quoted, and they seem slightly embarrassed, but at the same time seem somewhat pleased that their kid is making some cash and doesn't need to borrow money any more. Some might take this article and use it as an argument against the evils of online gambling -- but that would be wrong. It really should be about yet another story in the press that plays up the gambling industry's marketing ploy that "anybody" can become rich gambling, while hiding and playing down the much more likely scenario of people losing money (sometimes a lot). While this article mentions that most people lose money gambling, it buries it in a single sentence towards the end. Suggesting that online gambling is somehow a suitable summer job replacement also seems particularly questionable. I have no doubt that some young folks are making a ton of money while playing online poker, and I think that the US's position in trying to ban online poker is silly and unreasonable -- but it still seems quite odd that so many stories about online poker seem to focus on the success stories, rather than those who ended up losing tremendous amounts of money.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Paul, Sep 14th, 2007 @ 5:46pm

    It's true

    A friend of mine quit his job last fall because he was tired of the way the company treated him and the other employees. To pass time while job hunting he played online poker (which he was heavily into prior).

    He was making 3k+ a month during the spring and summer, and when I asked him how his job hunt was going (8 months later) he jokingly (but truthfully) stated "ok, I just have to find a job that pays more than poker"

     

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  2.  
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    RandomThoughts, Sep 14th, 2007 @ 7:33pm

    Obviously kids are playing poker, since you see so many 21 and 22 year olds on ESPN every night in the World Series of Poker. I am sure they didn't wait until they hit 21 to start playing and boom, they make the WSOP.

    At least in poker you are not playing against the house, where you know that eventually you will lose. Unless you are Danny Ocean, the house always wins.

     

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  3.  
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    Fate, Sep 14th, 2007 @ 7:46pm

    Yes, it really is true, actually. I live in the Bay Area (read: San Jose/San Fransisco), and I know plenty of people who have made some serious money from Online Poker. One person in particular did start when he was still in High School, and managed to raise enough money to pay for college. Seriously.

    The kicker is that he's not even a great poker player. Sure, he's above the average joe, but he's no Vegas shark. He's just a kid who took a methodical approach to ensure him steady winnings, and did plenty of research before investing his time and money in it.

     

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  4.  
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    bzzt, Sep 14th, 2007 @ 8:35pm

    So?

    "While this article mentions that most people lose money gambling". That also applies to starting a new business.

    That's capitalsim.. most people lose money.. it's for the few capable. So is poker. Can't even imagine why so much fuss about it.

     

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  5.  
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    Jim, Sep 15th, 2007 @ 12:55am

    Hmmm

    I thought poker was a game of skill

     

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  6.  
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    A pokey man, Sep 15th, 2007 @ 3:17am

    Re: Hmmm

    It is you fecking idiot.

     

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  7.  
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    Poker Player, Sep 15th, 2007 @ 8:20am

    Ask any poker player -- They are all winners, they never lose.

     

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  8.  
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    VirtualAlex, Sep 15th, 2007 @ 1:31pm

    They never get it right

    The thing about news stories and poker is they are always written about totally poker-uneducated people. Poker is a very complex game, and surely enough if you DO treat it like a job it is very easy to win. It's like playing tic-tac-toe with someone who is worse than you. He might win a few games, but you will destroy him in the long run. So all you need to do is get better then some of the others, and will succeed.

     

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  9.  
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    tristan, Sep 15th, 2007 @ 2:22pm

    idiots

    Yea, it's so easy. Until here comes the one who takes everything you have. Why Americans are such idiots? They don't play poker, man, they probably sell drugs, that's where the money comes from. And should be in prison.
    What a tribe of idiots, for God's sake!

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 15th, 2007 @ 3:25pm

    Why do the radical twits always generalize about all Americans, when they read a story of a few on the internet? And you call us idiots, lol.

     

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  11.  
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    thisguy, Sep 15th, 2007 @ 4:24pm

    Re:

    I think unfortunately those outside the US only see or hear about the dumb ones. And of course psychologically one would think a whole group of people are dumb if every one they saw, met or heard of was as such. Of course this is logically false because it only takes one smart American to break that generalization. Also the smart ones aren't speaking up because they are too smart for their own good as a whole. Or some social bs like that.

     

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  12.  
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    RandomThoughts, Sep 15th, 2007 @ 5:03pm

    Hey, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. To bad that usually includes your money.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 16th, 2007 @ 9:09am

    FInd a broken site

    There used to be a site where, if you played practice games and then switched to for real games, you could carry over yoy practice money, and loose that to another player,even though you could not cash out the practice money. If there are two of you, you can play a few practice matches so one player has a large amount of practice money, then he switches to a real game and deliberately looses to his friend. His friend than cashes out the money, adn they split it between them. A friend of mine made a fair amount of money this way, basically as something to do at the computer shop where he worked in quiet moments. Unfortunately, this bug was fixed about a year ago, but there are proba bly other broken sites to be exploited.

     

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  14.  
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    Matt, Sep 16th, 2007 @ 9:52am

    You cannot win at poker. Mathematical proof is as follows:
    (Total Cash at end)= (Total Cash at start)-($5 x number of hands)

    Online poker sites are the ones that win everytime.
    The odds on low stakes black jack are better at that rate!

     

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  15.  
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    Sam, Sep 16th, 2007 @ 11:30am

    online poker

    Online poker isn't rigged, nor not profitable, but when you get down to playing, only approximately 10%-20% of the people online actually make money, where as only 5%-10% of people who actually play "live"(in casinos) make money. There are a lot of losers.
    From my statistics: I've played against 2724 other players, 1192(43%) of them are up from the hands that I've played with them, 1575 (57%) are down money over the 21K hands(actually very low for the average online player) that I've played online over the past 3 months (since I turned 18). The reason that there are so many winners is because of the low volume of hands that I've played against most of them.
    While I may be a winning player, it's a tough way to make an easy living with days where you can easily lose just as much as you made the day before and can only blame it on bad luck, not bad play. I could argue the dynamics of winning poker(including deals that the sites offer that most casual players don't know about, like rakeback) and how it is very very possible to make money, I'll leave that up to somebody who can explain it better than I can.
    Technically from my understanding of the current legislator on online poker, it's illegal to transfer funds to a site, not play on it.

     

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  16.  
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    Sean, Sep 16th, 2007 @ 2:06pm

    Re: Hmmm

    What kind of gambling? My assumption was Texas Hold 'Em. The reason this game is so popular is that it keeps suckers in the game. Professional poker players have to have large bankroll to withstand the swings. Suckouts should be an expected part of the game.

    I seriously doubt that a bunch of kids with no bankroll could make enough to feed themselves let alone pay for college. The original article seems terribly irresponsible.

     

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  17.  
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    JEQP, Sep 16th, 2007 @ 6:08pm

    "it still seems quite odd that so many stories about online poker seem to focus on the success stories, rather than those who ended up losing tremendous amounts of money."

    Not really, that's journalism. Things that are strange are news, not things that are common. Let's face it, no-one will be interested in a story titled: "Area man loses at online poker".

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 16th, 2007 @ 10:10pm

    Re: FInd a broken site

    What are you? Stupid?

     

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  19.  
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    David, Sep 16th, 2007 @ 10:21pm

    "but it still seems quite odd that so many stories about online poker seem to focus on the success stories, rather than those who ended up losing tremendous amounts of money"

    Of course they focus on the winners! That's a no brainer. Who hears stories about the millions of lotto losers? Plus, it's good press for the poker businesses that pull the strings.

     

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  20.  
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    Steve, Sep 17th, 2007 @ 6:14am

    It's possible

    I have a group of friends who make quite a bit of money playing poker, both online and in the indian casinos. This is their only form of income and they are not poor.

     

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  21.  
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    Gerri Bryce, Sep 21st, 2007 @ 1:25am

    We could put your opinion in a few simple words but we all need to respect each other's way of expression. Neither among us are anti-american or anti-poker -- we want a balance between making money without transgressing on our freedom as to how to use it.

    What's quite ironic is that the parents of the 19 year old say they are proud that their son didnt have to borrow cash because he can earn off poker games. Some stories on the other hand say parents get into debt because their kids waste money gambling online. Which would you rather believe? In the end not all journalism is fair and accurate.

     

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  22.  
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    jo black, Oct 1st, 2007 @ 7:21am

    No body makes money online, except the pokersites, with rake and the fact its almost impossible to consistently win were all losers. Go play in a real casino for a fair game. Its always "my friends making money or someone i know" never the person whos saying it, all these stories about winning players are put out by the sites to encourage more people to gamble.

    Why wont the sites prove their legit and make their source code and rng public, they have things to hide!

     

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  23.  
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    Paul, Oct 3rd, 2007 @ 11:25am

    Making money online

    I started with a bankroll of $50 dollars online 1 year ago and played micro limits Hold Em..over the year its increased gradually to now $1100 and i,m now playing low stakes No limit..I studied the game diligently before playing(poker books mainly) and started with play money..As soon as my bankroll gets to $2000 i move up my stakes again..ive been playing consistently(15hrs week) for three yrs now..i consider myself a good cash game player who doesnt tilt,and my original $50 dollars has been my only input into the website.i,m living proof its not rigged and you can make money(cash games).......

     

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  24.  
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    jo black, Oct 4th, 2007 @ 2:09pm

    Re: Making money online

    You expect people to believe that you have made 22 times your initial deposit through online poker?

    Absolute rubbish. You say you played for 1 year in one sentence then 3 years in the next.

    If you can make 22 times your initial deposit then why can't the poker pros? Im not talking about the ones who are sponsored by the sites, the ones that say its impossible to win consistently at online poker.

    I put it to you that you are a pokersite employee/ connected some how, whos job is to say on sites how well? your doing.

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Paul, Oct 5th, 2007 @ 11:54am

    Re: Re: Making money online

    Hey Jo..no ive been playing cashgames consistently for over a year...play money and studying before that for about 2yrs..1. i am a casino dealer in a casino,not a pokersite employee and 2.My account is now nearly $1,200 from my original 50 bucks..I have no reason to lie..and it makes me feel good to know that i must be one of the few that have made a profit from this..I really dont care what you might think,buti,m good with figures etc due to my profession(19yrs dealer)..I,m 40 by the way..Why would i lie?..i,m amused..anyway..I,m writing just to say it is possible to win..By the way poker pros do make money playin poker..Cash game pros that is....thats why they are pros...lol..ie..Daniel Negreanu,Barry Greenstein,Doyle Brunson,Chip Reese

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 10th, 2007 @ 10:59am

    I have been playing Poker since I was 8 years old. It started with family fun, something to pass time. By the age 10 I was playing in real cash games at my uncle's house. As a tenager i would get my friends together and play for small stakes. Then I grew up and got a real job, got married and had kids. Then like a Lightening Bolt "Texas Holdem" was born as we know it today. I started playing as much as possible in my free time, all while added my life long knowelge and skills of poker and my abality to read people. Now for the icing on the cake "Online Poker". I talked my wife into letting me put $60.00 Dollars into an account. I have never looked back. I first started in small set n go games and really did not make much money at all. I then moved to heads up games. This is the key, where I took off like a rocket. Heads up gives you a 50/50 chance to double your money. Buy in at what ever amount you want and each player gets a set amount of chips. Winner takes all minus the fee the online site gets. Long storey short I have made thousands of dollars online. I have not quit my day job by no means but the extra income has come in handy! Good Luck

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    Jason, Oct 10th, 2007 @ 11:05am

    I have been playing Poker since I was 8 years old. It started with family fun, something to pass time. By the age 10 I was playing in real cash games at my uncle's house. As a tenager i would get my friends together and play for small stakes. Then I grew up and got a real job, got married and had kids. Then like a Lightening Bolt "Texas Holdem" was born as we know it today. I started playing as much as possible in my free time, all while added my life long knowelge and skills of poker and my abality to read people. Now for the icing on the cake "Online Poker". I talked my wife into letting me put $60.00 Dollars into an account. I have never looked back. I first started in small set n go games and really did not make much money at all. I then moved to heads up games. This is the key, where I took off like a rocket. Heads up gives you a 50/50 chance to double your money. Buy in at what ever amount you want and each player gets a set amount of chips. Winner takes all minus the fee the online site gets. Long storey short I have made thousands of dollars online. I have not quit my day job by no means but the extra income has come in handy! Good Luck

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    bill, Oct 11th, 2007 @ 6:53pm

    Re: Making money online

    so you have an average of 1.4 dollars an hr. over a year?wow!

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    Paul, Oct 18th, 2007 @ 10:44am

    Re: Re: Making money online

    Well guys maybe i should eat my words a little...i came here proving a point..which in my case was true,but on the other side news has just surfaced in the last 2 days on "Absolute Poker" bout a scam involving an online employee who was relaying hole card information to a C.E.O which was playing in a multi-way $1,000 tournament..The player,s name is "Potripper"..look it up on Google for more info...sad day for online poker...:(

     

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  30.  
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    Oliver, Apr 17th, 2008 @ 10:39pm

    Oh funny...

    It's quite easy to play poker for a profit if you know what you're doing. Take Limit Hold 'em as an example. A basic understanding of pot odds, pot equity, and reverse-implied odds coupled with an adequate bankroll (typically 500 times the big blind) will yield a return in the long-run. Having a bankroll that outweighs the variance of "bad luck" will result in profits long run. What the article fails to note is that maybe 2% of poker players play for a living, 15% are addicts, and the rest play it as a hobby. For the 2% who take it seriously and know what they're doing a handsome living awaits provided they have money-management skills. Take a person with average intelligence, give them a 3-month intensive poker education and I guarantee they could be making six figures within two years with online poker. The fact of the matter is that the vast majority of players are seeking a recreational activity and aren't looking to make money long-run. "Pros" just capitalize on this by knowing the math involved.

     

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  31.  
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    me, Jul 23rd, 2008 @ 5:47am

    Re:

    oh Matt, you must be the dumbest person of your country:

    "(Total Cash at end)= (Total Cash at start)-($5 x number of hands)" -------> What The Fuck ?!?

     

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  32.  
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    taj, Oct 23rd, 2008 @ 4:33pm

    you guys are a bunch of pu**y no nothing retard f***ks. I researched online poker for 2 weeks. I win a free-roll 1st place. 120 dollars. no deposit. I go to cash tables. I play for 1 week 2-3 hrs a day. I make 1200 dollars. I withdraw 600 I play 3 more days i make 600 more. big deal. i take minor swings. I play tight sometimes lose.. always well. thats on bodog. I go to sportsbook. i deposit 25. I make 150. I go to pokerstars, no deposit. freeroll to 60 some in a week + sell play money. I make 400 next week. All in 3 weeks. Big deal. I've barely started. I still have lots to learn poker is 90% skill. Im glad 90% of people think its 10% skill makes it easier for me to take their money lol. good bank roll management+skill+knowledge= money. everyone in this room can play me heads up or 6 table at 300-600nl on bodog. plz do, I can youll play out of position crap wont know wen to raise wen to limp wen to call either really loose or mice I eat both plz come play!

     

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  33.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 23rd, 2008 @ 4:47pm

    geez, I must be one of those super talented 2% genius players...not! I suspect percentage is way higher than that. maybe 20-25% Just dont gamble. You can freeroll to big bucks if you play well read some stuff. play good hands. play position. read opponents. don't shove all-in with KK wen u know super mouse has AA!! that happened to me...I leaned heavy on folding but was 75 bucks in and was tired lost 500 dollars, but came to table with 90 so no big deal and never deposit, I'm still way up almost 2k in few weeks even with some lousy plays. either I'm really talented, really lucky(luck does not exist...statistics do) or you guys really suck, really really suck and know nothing. I found super fish forum. please come play me. I'm still fish at 5-10 no limit, so i dont play there yet...I want more of these (plyrs?...er dum fucs i guess) at my tables. If this didn't shut u up and u still think its gambing than ur a dellusional schitzoid or from alabama..just deposit 100-1000 dollars and find user "jaktrade" on bodog plz thnks :)

     

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  34.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2009 @ 5:22am

    Re:

    the rng for pokerstars gets tested by a couple big companies who check accounting software, they make money on the rake, the more people who play and spend money the more they make, if someone loses at poker it doesnt gain the pokersite any money

     

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  35.  
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    John M, Jan 17th, 2010 @ 6:09am

    Re: Making money online

    I have a similar story with about the same results but i play tournaments only (less risk with a high level of pay out)started by playing with play money and built it from the 1500 free starting chips to 1,000,000 in a year.. Made 1 deposit of $50 and am now up to $1,000 from just playing $2-$5 (tournaments) in less than a year so I see no reason to think i cant keep increasing it from there... Anyone can win on any given day but players who have bankroll managment and dont chase when they only have 6 outs and are NOT getting the pot odds will fair much better in the long run.. Good Luck to anyone who gets in with the best of it 90% of the time for thats the best you can do. Oh and NEVER limp with Aces unless your in a suicidal mood... LOL :)

     

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