Can You Still Beat Poker in 2023 & Is Playing the Game Worth Your While?
For many years now, I have been hearing people talk about poker being dead and it being impossible to win money in poker anymore, especially for players just getting into the game.
Even just hearing it so many times has certainly made me question the viability of playing poker these days.
But the negative thoughts are easily dispersed whenever I sit down to play, as any decent player can clearly see that there are plenty of spots left in poker to make a hefty profit.
Sure enough, the game has gotten a hell of a lot tougher over the last decade, going from one that most people played on pure instinct to one played on a much higher level these days.
The training tools and especially solvers have changed the way many young people approach poker.
This has revolutionized the industry and made the game much harder to beat.
Yet, just because something is hard doesn’t mean it can’t be done, and winning money at poker is definitely still very possible in 2023.
The one thing that’s for sure is that you won’t win at poker these days by simply learning the poker rules and a few basic strategies. Yet, the opportunities to learn poker have never been more available, either!
Skill vs. Luck in Poker
Ever since poker made its big breakthrough in the early 2000s, people have been making arguments for it being a skill game as opposed to a game of pure chance.
If you have been around poker since then, I am pretty sure you have heard all the arguments for and against it, and by now, you should understand why poker is a game of skill.
Sure enough, luck has an impact on the outcomes of any particular poker hand or session, but the best players always win in the long run, and it’s not even close.
Thousands of players have proven this to be true in both online and live poker, dispelling the myths of luck and good runs making successful poker players.
Not only is poker a game in which your skill plays an important part. The lack of skill on the part of your opponents is a crucial element for success.
It would hardly matter if you were the best poker player in the world if everyone else you were playing against was equally as good.
The one thing many who argue poker is dead often forget is that poker is not about being the best. It is simply about playing against those who are worse.
The Days of Rakeback Are Gone
In the years following the poker boom, many young players took to online poker and started grinding hard to make money in the soft games at the time.
The games back then were definitely soft, with the most skilled players of the time playing at a very low skill level compared to what’s out there these days.
Another big factor that helped many people make money in poker back then was volume.
While a small percentage of players were actually crushing the games, many others were breaking even and grinding rakeback.
This worked like a charm too! Poker sites offered great deals to players to just keep them playing, and breakeven players could make a ton of money.
If you think back to the Supernova Elite chase back in the days, many SNG players were playing very close to zero, simply ramping up those VPPs.
These players ended up making tens of thousands in profit every year, but they were not exactly crushing poker or taking heaps of money from their opponents.
Those days are now gone, and the rake/loyalty schemes have dried up, for the most part, making online poker more about actually beating your opponents.
This is one of the big reasons that some people, who used to grind rakeback or win by breaking even now see poker as a dead game with no profit margins left.
Online Tournaments Still Going Strong
It is very true that cash games of 2023 look much different than they do in the early 2000s and that players have gotten a whole lot better across the stakes.
Sit ‘n Go tournaments, which were the bread and butter games of many grinders, have also dried up in a big way, with volume significantly dropping and few games running.
In part, this is all thanks to the fact the global popularity of poker has diminished. But it is also because players have moved on to new poker variants.
Online poker tournaments are still a great opportunity for skilled players to make money, with many tournament pros managing to sustain a healthy ROI.
In fact, you will still often see players spazzing out for their entire stack in $50 or $100 tournaments on a regular basis. This means there is plenty of money to be won there.
The increasingly popular progressive knockout (PKO) format, in particular, is proving to be a great way for tournament players to make bank. A massive number of bad recreational players seem to enjoy those games very much.
With poker operators across all markets constantly running exciting tournament series, there are plenty of opportunities for skillful players to capitalize on their knowledge and experience.
Live Poker is Coming Back
After going on a complete hiatus during the pandemic times, live poker is coming back and looking stronger than ever.
The World Series of Poker came back last winter and will be back in Vegas this summer, with a completely new location and many exciting opportunities.
In other parts of the world, various poker festivals we were all used to are also launching back up, and live poker is looking healthy.
Like before, the live poker scene is looking much softer than the online, with recreational players and fish aplenty across all stakes.
A quick look at one of the popular streamed games like Live at the Bike or Hustler Casino Live will give you a great idea of the kind of characters you can find playing even at the highest of levels.
At the lower stakes, live cash games and tournaments are still an absolute fish-fest and are likely to stay that way for many years to come.
In fact, if there is one thing I can promise you is that live poker will never become very hard except at the very highest levels where all the GTO robots are playing nowadays.
Is New Poker Boom Ahead?
Ever since online poker started launching back up in the US, people have been speculating about the likelihood of a new poker boom happening.
In the meantime, online poker operators like GGPoker have opened up the Asian market, with tens of thousands of new players flooding the poker world.
Sure enough, these players are not as bad as the ones back in the Pacific Poker days, but they aren’t Phil Ivey, either!
With online poker continually expanding in America and the Asian market alive and healthy, there is definitely a chance for a new poker boom and a new expansion of the game.
Yet, you may have to actually live in the US to fully profit from the games there. It is unlikely players from the rest of the world will be able to play with Americans anytime soon.
Is Playing Poker Worth My While?
One thing to be said for poker in 2023 is that the kinds of success stories you used to hear of back in the day are probably behind us and unlikely to repeat.
Turning $50 into millions playing online poker is not something that’s realistic to expect these days, even if you are a poker prodigy of sorts.
To make money in poker in 2023, you will probably have to treat it as more of a steady job and will have to study the game and improve your own skills away from the tables.
At the end of the day, the profit you stand to make is much lower than it used to be, in part thanks to the reduced profits from loyalty schemes and in part because of the average player playing much better poker.
Yet, there is money to be made in this game, and there always will be. The real question to ask is how much you are looking to make and how hard you are willing to work for it?!
Finding the Right Games is the Key
There used to be a time in poker when you could just sit down at a random $1/2 table online and print money. This is no longer the case!
In fact, many cash game tables at popular sites like PokerStars or 888poker are so loaded with regs that it may not be worth trying to win there at all.
Yet, this does not mean poker is dead or that you should give up. Plenty of poker sites offer games you can win in, and you should be striving to find the best and most profitable tables for yourself.
My advice, if you are going to play online poker, is to play on multiple sites and always look for the best spots around.
At the same time, avoid playing with the regs more than you have to.
Live poker presents another amazing alternative. Live poker games still offer great opportunities, with fish drawn to live poker tables like flies to honey.
In either case, the biggest poker skill you need to work on in 2023 is table selection and getting a seat in the right games, while all the other things likely come second.
Always keep in mind that you don’t need to be the best player in the world to make money in poker, you just need to be better than those you are playing against.
Live by this motto, and you will be printing money in poker for many years to come!