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When you start to wonder if your results are enough to start playing full time, it’s worth looking at whether things like rake-back and bonuses will be enough to meet your ‘ramen profitability threshold.


This is the threshold where you can make enough to cover your basic living expenses and re-invest everything else into growing your bankroll.


Rakeback used to be what would make or break a site as they would compete with each other to lure players to idn play their site with larger and larger percentages of their rake given back. Unfortunately, this no longer seems to be the case with only a handful of sites giving reasonable rake-back deals.

Playing on these sites can add a nice boost to your bankroll or can help cushion the blow of a downswing. Some sites, like Party Poker, can offer up to 40% rake-back if you put in enough volume at the higher stakes. This can add up to hundreds of dollars a week which is definitely enough to influence where you should or shouldn’t play. Playing on a site with a good rake-back deal could be what makes you profitable enough to play full time.


There are various forms that bonuses can come in, all of which will help contribute to the growth of your bankroll. The first is the ‘welcome’ or ‘deposit bonus’ which sites will first give you when you deposit money on their site. Some of these will match any deposits up to $500 – which sounds great! However, it’s released a small amount at a time as you play and if you don’t play enough in a certain amount of time you lose it.

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Other bonuses can come in the form of small challenges such as winning pots with certain hands or playing a certain number of games in a specific format and depending on your bankroll, could be worth going for. I would advise not going too far out of your way for these and just let them happen naturally, specifically the ‘hand challenges’ – I’ve seen people bluff away more than the bonus is worth going for these!


You hear stories of poker players who started out playing freerolls and after a short couple of years are making hundreds of thousands of dollars and think “I’m gonna do the same thing!”. Then, after playing one for 6 hours and making a grand total, of 20c you start to reconsider.

Most freerolls just aren’t worth the time invested for the money back. There are very few these days that have any significant money in the prize pool, let alone up top, and you can play them for weeks on end and barely make $10. The majority of players looking to play would be better off depositing a small amount to play what they want from the start rather than forcing themselves to start from $0.


Satellites can serve two purposes depending on how you use them. The first is what they were designed to do – allow you to win an entry into a big tournament for a fraction of the entry fee. This is a good way for up and coming tournament players to test themselves at higher stakes without taking the risk of buying in for the full amount.

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However, if you are particularly good at satellites you can use them as to make money without even playing the target tournament – like this talented player. If you win two satellites to the same tournament the majority of sites will give you the buy-in for the target tournament in either cash or tournament dollars which can be sold or used to buy into other events.

Satellites have a very specific strategy to them that’s hard to master so if they’re something you’re good at you can make a lot of money winning multiple buy-ins to the same tournament.

Grind vs Glory

Some people are naturally drawn to tournaments for the glory, the chance to say you won the whole thing and a large chunk of cash to go with the trophy. While the allure of the bright lights of tournament stardom is appealing, what most people don’t see is the dozens, sometimes even hundreds of tournaments that you play without a win. The variance can be too much for some people and they can go broke chasing that glory.

Cash games seem boring to most people in comparison but offer a steady way to grind out a profit on a regular basis, compared to the swings of playing in tournaments. Don’t get me wrong, there are swings in cash games which can feel brutal but if you’re a winning player these happen less frequently than tournament swings.

In the end, there is no right answer for what you should play. My advice has always been to play the format you enjoy the most because if you enjoy playing it you’ll be more motivated to better yourself and grind through any downswings.

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