published on 06/06/08 at 1:19 pm
Online poker is definitely a difficult career path. Especially if you do not play cash games and only stick to six person sit n’ gos. Well, online poker player, Jared Hubbard does just that. He makes his living playing short table sit n’ gos…a lot of them, even a few tournaments at the same time! And he discusses his poker stories, processes, and secrets through his blog, jhub3000, a must read.
Now, do you have what it takes to make a living playing online poker? Maybe Jared can give you some answers to the questions you have been seeking.
At what point did you say to yourself, ‘I can make a living doing playing online poker!’ Did you tell anyone about it? Their thoughts?
In the fall of 05 I found out that all of the part time workers at my work (Bay State Milling) would be getting laid off in a few months due to the purchase of a new machine. I was in that part time worker category since I was going to school at the time. I had been playing poker as a hobby and winning some decent money so I decided to start up an excel spreadsheet to track my hourly rate. I wanted to see if I could make enough to play poker as my job while I was in college. It turned out I was making about $20/hr, which may not sound like much, but it was about double what I was making at my other job. I think my parents and girlfriend were very skeptical at first. This was the point I knew I could end up playing for a living full time. I wasn’t making enough money yet, and was only 2-3 tabling $30-$40 SNGs, but I knew that after continuing to work on my game that I could do it. I didn’t tell anyone of my plans to eventually play full time though because they were already skeptical. That summer I was 6 tabling $38 SNGs full time since I don’t have college during the summer. I was making about $50/hr and my parents and girlfriend weren’t really as skeptical anymore. This is when I basically started telling people of my plans to eventually play full time for a living. At the time I planned to finish school first.
You make a good living playing online. From the stats I have seen, you make $180 to $210 an hour online. Are their still players, professional and non, who give you zero respect? Does it upset you? Do certain players stay clear of you?
I actually make about $300 to $330 per hour playing poker online now. There was a time last year when I was making $180 to $210 per hour. Since then I have improved and found the gold mine that is Cake Poker, which has significantly increased my hourly rate. I’m also starting to coach and stake some select players, which brings in some nice money.
There’s definitely players who give me 0 respect. The thing w/ SNGs is they’re so math based toward the end, and if you haven’t done your homework on SNG strategy and watch a top player make some of the plays they make may look donkish to you, but they’re actually standard +EV plays. Due to that, even some players who have seen my stats seem to think that I’m just the luckiest player on the planet even though I’ve played over 47,000 SNGs. I actually find it pretty funny that people are that naive and uneducated to think that someone can just run good over a sample size that large. It doesn’t really upset me because I realize that if they think I’m lucky they probably donate a lot of money to me and they’re the reason SNGs are still beatable for a good profit. Most professional SNG players have a lot of respect for me because they understand optimal strategy and play somewhat similar to me. I have a lot of people who also like to watch me play, either to try and learn or just to root for me. There’s definitely some players that try to stay clear of me.
Have you ever discussed your living with poker professionals who do not play online? Did they give you any unique advice?
No I haven’t really had any lengthy discussions w/ any live pros.
What steps would you take to guide/teach a person into becoming a profitable online poker player?
I would first start by having them read a few poker books. Their first book should be one geared toward beginners. I would then show them how to calculate whether situations are +EV or -EV and have them do a lot of work with calculations. I would explain basic SNG strategy to them and have them watch me play. I would then have them start at low stakes and I would review a lot of their hand histories. This seems to work wonders. That’s how I taught my oldest brother to play, who just turned pro this week. It’s also how I’m teaching my stakees to play.
Do you have a particular system you use? Or can you give us bits and pieces of it?
I don’t exactly have a “system.” I adjust to the players a lot and try to mix up my game so I’m not so predictable. There’s definitely a lot of spots, particularly late game, where there’s only one optimal play to make. I’ll leave it at that since I don’t hate money.
How much of a bankroll do you need to play at your level? Do you go through any major losing sessions?
I generally like to keep 100-200 buy-ins of my average stake. Most people don’t need that many buy-ins for a bankroll but when you’re 10-16 tabling the highest stakes for a living you’re going to have some pretty big swings. My worst run was last December when I lost about $25K during the month. I was playing strictly Pokerstars at the time and the $1Ks were running more than usual. Needless to say, I ran awful in the highest stakes that month. Rakeback keeps me sane during downswings though. Since I have found Cake Poker I haven’t really had much for downswings since my ROI is so much higher. My average stake is also lower because it’s more profitable to play some of the medium stakes games on Cake than it is to play some of the higher stakes games on Pokerstars. Due to my high ROI on Cake and my rakeback deal, a Cake $52 is more profitable than a Pokerstars $235, and is even more profitable than a Pokerstars $325 or $565 a lot of the time.
Has becoming a profitable player changed your life at all? Has the money changed anything?
My life hasn’t changed too much. I think the major thing is that the money I make now allows me to buy a lot nicer things. The money I make and the freedom I have to make my own schedule has also allowed me to take a lot of nice vacations that I otherwise wouldn’t be able to.
Any thoughts about playing tournaments outside of the online world? If you have already, what are your feelings about it?
I played a few WSOP events last year, the US Poker Bowl, and the EPT Monte Carlo this year. I’ll play a few per year but I’m not really a big fan of playing the tournament circuit. There’s no freedom in scheduling. They tell you when you have to play. If your friends call you up and want to do something you can’t just stop playing and go hang out with them. There’s also a lot of travel costs and being away from friends and family. I think I can make more playing online anyway. Even if I have a 100% ROI in a $5K live event, I’m still going to have to put in a lot of hours to make my money. They play a lot of grueling 12 hour days in live events. Let’s say I have a 100% ROI in a $5K event and average 15-20 hours per tournament. That means I’ll make $5K in 15 hours in 15-20 hours of play. It also takes much longer to get in a decent sample size live and the variance can be brutal. If I played the same amount of hours online I’d probably make somewhere between $4,500 to $7,300 on average w/ less travel costs, the freedom to make my own schedule, less variance, and the ability to put in huge volume and get in a significant sample size.
What tells have you picked up playing online?
I’m not sure I want to get into anything too specific because then my opponents could use it against me. I like to take notes on how players played particular hands and then use that info later to put them on a likely hand. You can find a lot of betting tells by doing this as mostly players just don’t mix up their play well.
Who is the most difficult player(s) you have played against? Do you play them regularly?
I can’t name just one player. I think the most difficult players I’ve played against are probably DDBeast, BigJoe2003, Kenny05, River Prayer/LuckBoxFromHell, amlove. Those are all players that I currently play a lot with or have played a lot with them in the past. There’s also some players that I haven’t played w/ as much but can tell they’re top notch tough players. THE__D__RY and inissint come to mind.