For this article I will limit myself to considering live cash games held in casinos or card rooms.
Other games have basic differences and require a separate discussion, which we can have at some other time.
Low To Medium: 5%
This includes $ 4 / $ 8 limit games up to $ 10 / $ 20 or possibly up to $ 15 / $ 30, and $ 1 / $ 2 blinds no limit games, provided that the maximum number of chips to enter the game does not exceed $ 200.
At these levels, it is possible to win over the long term, but it is very difficult. As with the games described above, rake, tip, and bad beat jackpot are almost an insurmountable barrier.
It is difficult to imagine how someone can play a plus at this level. I assume that less than 5% of regular players at this level have income from the game.
Yes, rare players with very high skill, proper bankroll management and not subject to emotional breakdowns win 1 maybe 2 big bets per hour, but they are very rare specimens.
Intermediate To Semi-High Level: Real Professionals Appear
These games include limit games with stakes ranging from $ 20 / $ 40 to $ 80 / $ 160 and no-limit games with blinds ranging from $ 2 / $ 5 to $ 10 / $ 20. At these levels, circumstances change. According to my estimates, 10% to 15% of regular players of this level (maybe a little more; hard to say) receive income from the game in the long term.
The influence of rake in these games is reduced, and the key factor is that at these levels you first encounter regularly playing “sponsors”, very rich and very gamblers.
Gambling fans who make big bets in craps and blackjack also love poker, but they are very weak in this game. They rarely pose a problem for expert players and, as a result, win them over.
Unsurprisingly, it is at this level that the first professional poker players begin to emerge.
Guy belongs to the following category
High Stakes: Hunting The Rich
All games that are more expensive than the ones described above are in this category. This is where the poker strategy changes again. According to my not unfounded guesses, more than half of the players of this level receive income from the game in the long run.
There are many millionaires who love to play – you probably recognize some of their names. They often play well and can perform well at lower levels, but prefer to play with the very best poker players with the best poker strategy. Without these people, the best poker players would simply move their chips around the table, losing nothing, but also not making any profit from the game.
The conventional wisdom is that only about 5% of all regular poker players generate income from the game in the long run. This is probably true, but you must bear in mind that these players are unevenly distributed across all the levels at which poker is played.