Start a poker career from scratch

Believe it or not, these days it is possible for a player to start from zero and make his/her way up into the upper echelon of poker aristocracy, or at least reach a level where he/she can make a living playing poker.

In theory, it’s rather easy too. Poker pro Chris Ferguson had a challenge on FullTilt Poker that he could make $10,000 without any starting bankroll, and sure enough he pulled it off, in much less time than people would’ve thought possible. He began by playing freerolls to establish a bankroll he could start with in real money games, then gradually worked his way up, until he hit $10,000. Now, there’s a poll on Full Tilt’s site where people can vote whether they want to see him attempt to reach a million dollars, or consider the challenge fulfilled.

Sure, I’m not about to argue how great an opportunity online poker is for get rich quick schemes with no investment required. After all, saying that not all people possess the qualities that made it possible for Chris Ferguson to pull off something like that, would be a huge understatement. No, you’re not going to find the going that easy, but still the chance to build up a reasonable bankroll and then to generate some extra dough is there for you too. And no, you don’t have to take the money you would’ve taken to the back of your garden and burnt, and invest it. You don’t need to invest anything at all. The competition among the hundreds of online poker rooms now populating cyberspace is for the benefit of everyday players like you and I. It gives birth to bonuses and loyalty offers that would’ve been considered downright foolish not more than 2-3 years ago.

In this respect, there are poker rooms out there that will literally pay you to play, in one form or another. One of the most accessible ways into the ranks of real money online poker is the free bankroll. Quite a few poker rooms offer their players real money, upfront, with no strings attached upon their arrival. Certainly, they won’t be able to cash the money out and be on their way, because that would be the equivalent of robbery, but provided one manages to fulfill the wagering requirements, it’s a great start. The free bankroll will instantly hit your real money account, and you’ll be able to play with it as if it were you own. Once you played it through enough times (you’ve generated enough rake) you’ll be allowed to cash your money out. If you handle things well, you may even end up with more money than the free bankroll you were initially granted.

Cashing out after a successful free bankroll adventure is always a good idea. Chances are, the poker room that provides the free bankroll will not provide the best on and off-table odds for you, but you can’t look a gift horse in the mouth, this will have to do just fine until you get your hands on the funds. Once that’s done, you’ll have a choice of where to invest it. Fist thing’s first: look for a good rakeback deal. Playing with reduced rake will not only make it easier for you to beat the games in the long-run, it’ll also earn you money at the end of each month or week. Playing as a poker prop will land you an exceptional rakeback setup (well above 100%), which can provide a huge push towards the real poker bankroll that you aim for.

Whatever you do, try to avoid cash games as long as you know you’re under bankrolled. Cash games are by far not the ideal choice for bankroll building for several reasons. On one hand, you’ll pay more rake than in a tournament, on the other hand, the nature of play at cash tables will not aid you one bit.
STTs (Single Table Tournaments) are the games for you at this stage. They give you excellent odds, a flimsy opposition (at a 10 handed table, you only need to best 7 players to double up on your buy-in) and they’ll be over in a reasonable amount of time, so they represent a very good return on your time investment too.
Start with lower buy-ins and gradually work your way up into higher-buyin STTs.