Online poker is a great way to make a little extra beer and gas money. Most people lose, but that’s because they approach the game with the wrong mindset. If you follow the steps I present in today’s blog post, you’ll find that it’s actually not all that difficult to earn your first $100 in online poker.
Right up front, I’ll tell you that you do need to know a little poker strategy. You don’t need to be a poker mastermind, but you do need to know enough to at least break even at the tables. If you know the very basics of poker strategy, you can make $100 with *fairly* little risk.
There are a few ways to earn $100 in online poker. The first method is the fastest but it requires more startup capital. The second method is quite a bit slower, but it doesn’t require nearly as much money up front. Both methods use deposit bonuses to speed you along, but bonuses aren’t totally necessary.
Just a warning, this is a pretty basic post. I don’t think you’ll find this useful if you’re already experienced with online poker. This post is geared towards people with little or no experience.
The Fast Way
Starting bankroll: $100+
It is always easier to make money if you already have money. If you can spare at least $100 (preferably more), then you can make a deposit at any online poker site, get a bonus and grind it out. Here’s what I recommend.
Step 1: Get a bonus
First, visit Bovada Poker and sign up for an account. At the time of this writing, Bovada is the best option for US players. There, you will get a 100% bonus added to your deposit. So if you deposit $100, you will get an extra $100.
Things will move much more quickly if you can afford to make a much larger deposit, though. If you can make a $500 deposit, you’ll get an extra $500 on top of that and have a much larger bankroll to work with. However, I don’t recommend making a large deposit if you are still learning the basics of poker strategy.
Step 2: Clear the bonus
The catch is that you don’t get the bonus money up front. You need to play at the real money cash games or tournaments to slowly release the bonus. Whenever you play in real money games, you earn VIP points that are used for other promotions. The rate at which VIP points are issued is based on the amount of rake taken out of the games.
Now, here’s where you have to decide how quickly you want the money. If you play in higher stakes games, you will clear the bonus quite a bit faster. But if you play too high up, you’ll go broke before you clear the bonus. Playing poker on a short bankroll is always a risky proposition. I recommend taking your time and doing it the right way.
I also think you should clear the bonus with ring games as opposed to tournaments. Ring games run at a faster rate in collecting rake, which means you earn VIP points faster, which means you get your bonus faster. At Bovada Poker, you’ll have to earn a little less than 750 poker points to release the first $100 of your bonus.
You have to play real money poker with real opponents to clear a bonus. This means you at least need to be skilled enough to break even. If you can manage to break even, the bonus money will provide you with your first $100.
This first method for earning $100 is a pretty standard way that poker players build bankrolls. This is nothing groundbreaking I admit, but this topic is geared towards beginners anyways. If you can play well enough to keep your head above water, it’s a pretty safe way to make your first $100 at poker.
The Slower Way
Starting bankroll: $20 to $100
This is the method for people who have less than $100 to deposit. Most poker sites have a minimum deposit of around $20, but that can change. In any case, this is the route to take if you are only willing to make a small deposit.
Step 1: Get a Bonus
Once again, the first step is to get a bonus. Sign up at a poker site and make a deposit. Every single poker site on the internet adds money to your first deposit as a “thank you” for playing. In most cases, you’ll get a 100% bonus added to your deposit.
So let’s say you deposit $20. You’ll get an extra $20 to go along with that, giving you a total bankroll of $40. You will still have to clear the bonus like I mentioned above, but it will take a little longer because you’ll be limited to playing in lower stakes games.
Step 2: Play in Small Tournaments
If you can play well enough to clear the bonus without losing money, you’ll end up with roughly $40 in your bankroll. This is a small bankroll so we can’t play in any cash games yet. Your best bet is to start out with micro-stake tournaments.
There are lots of low stakes tournaments that you can play in online. I see little $0.05 and $0.10 tourneys all the time. The prizes aren’t all that big of course, but don’t let that deter you. Your goal is only to build up your bankroll slowly, move up to slightly more expensive tournaments and keep at it. You would be surprised at how quickly you can move up through the ranks with skillful play.
Starting with $0
Starting bankroll: $0.00
Yes, you can earn $100 without making a deposit. This is the slowest way to get to $100, but it’s the best for players who have absolutely nothing to spare or players who are looking for a challenge.
The basic process is pretty simple, but it is very challenging because you’ll be working from a short bankroll during most of the early phase. All you have to do is sign up for a free account at any online poker site and play in the freeroll tournaments at that site.
All poker sites host freeroll tournaments that cost nothing to play in, but that offer real money prizes. The prizes are sickeningly small, but it costs absolutely nothing. I’d say this is the most difficult part of the challenge because you have to play in mind-numbingly long, boring tournaments with the prospect of winning $1.50 at the end.
However, people HAVE built massive bankrolls from scratch. It is difficult and frustrating, but definitely possible.
As soon as you win a little money in a freeroll tournament, take the money and play in the lowest real-money tournaments or cash games you can find. You will still have a short bankroll at this point, but there’s really no easy way around it. The only thing you can do is play your best and try to catch a modest win early.
Getting over the initial hump is tough because there will be times when you finally win a freeroll, go play in real money tournaments and fail to place, then be pushed back to playing in freerolls again. It gets old.
Here’s a brief summary of Chris Ferguson’s $0 bankroll challenge: Zero to Hero. That story tells about how one famous poker player started with $0 at Full Tilt Poker and turned it into a respectable bankroll. It took him a long time, but he finally did it.
I wrote this post from the perspective of a new player signing up to play poker without a whole lot of experience. Earning your first $100 takes time, but it’s very doable. Almost every successful poker player on the planet started with a small bankroll.
The hard part is just getting started. Once you have built up a respectable bankroll, you will find it easier and easier to earn one-hundred-dollar increments. For some people, $100 is nothing more than a big blind.
Patience will be your greatest virtue. I know you probably want to earn your first $100 as quickly as possible but rushing through the challenge will set you back. You have to stay within your bankroll as much as possible, study poker strategy and play a solid, patient game.