In the search for valuable side hustles, there are many formulas and ideas that are questionable, at best. It’s difficult to know which ones you can make money from, and which “hustles” are simply not worth the time and effort that you have to put into them. 

The Debate

One of the most questionable side hustles out there is poker – for many, poker sounds like an outrageous gambling risk. But others see this as a skill. There are many professional sports out there such as hockey and american football where the monetary stakes are high and yet there is still an element of luck involved.

Talented poker players see the game in the same way and some of these players make thousands, some even millions, playing at live events and on online sites, the most popular of which is PokerStars.

The Similarities Between Poker & Investing

The general idea is that poker is a game of part skill and part chance. The skill element eventually overrides the chance element. Decent players make money by using mathematics to make consistently +EV (expected value) calls. In a way, the life of a professional poker player is very much like that of an investor. Not all plays pay off, but if you consistently make the right investment (or play), you will eventually come out with a profit.

Poker is the only casino game in which it is technically possible to win in this way, because it is the only game that allows you to play against other players. If you are better than them, you can make money from them. The casino, or online poker room, takes a “rake” of the buy-ins or pots.

Of course, it’s important to understand that poker is not a get-rich-quick scheme. Not many players make money in the long run, and the ones that do have studied the game, analysed their play, and practised in thousands of tournaments.

To make matters more difficult, it is not easy to quickly measure your outcomes. Poker players employ a strategy known as bankroll management. Essentially, this means playing at a stake that you can afford, using only a fraction of your total funds for each individual game. This gives the best opportunity to beat the “statistical variance” brought about by the chance factor.

Getting Started – The Safe Way

However, with lots of safe practice at home and with friends, it is certainly possible that you could be one of the stronger players who can make a steady profit. If you want to make this a possibility, start by reading poker books from the people who have already made it happen such as Power Hold’em Strategy by Daniel Negreanu. They can walk you through the psychology and math to help you make meaningful decisions that will bring you the wins.

Then, use play money to practice without any risk – and lots of practice too! It’s possible for any beginner to win a couple of games but you’ll want to play countless times before you can separate your ‘luck from your ‘skill’.  When you are ready, move up to the micro or small stakes sites/apps and start carefully for real. 


Like any potential side-hustle, there are some considerations to think about. Do you enjoy the game? This is really important. If you are going to study and play for hours on end, you need to have a real passion for poker. Are you able to make more money than your hourly wage? You need to evaluate whether you are looking to make a quick buck or build a valuable skill to benefit you in the years to come.

Poker can be addictive and you need to have an amazing level of self control and logical thinking to do well – be prepared to learn and certainly be prepared to lose! But if you think you will enjoy the game it might just be worth giving it a go.

For most people, this is just a hobby that can occasionally result in a bonus. That’s probably the best way to look at it. Very few people take it all the way, and most people lose, but for those who are prepared to put in the effort, this can be a worthy side-hustle.


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