Whither the Online Poker Players?

Interesting article by someone who was making a living playing online poker--until the United States shut down his access to real money games.


One of the essential advantages of online poker is the ability to have a steady positive expectation on a relatively small bankroll. For example, a player who plays 20 tournaments online each day, each with an average buy-in of $100 and a 20 percent average return on investment, can expect to make $400 a day in the long run. That same 20 percent ROI would translate to a $2,000 expected return in the sort of $10,000 buy-in event that is commonly televised on ESPN. The difference is that the time spent to achieve those earnings in a live event will be days as opposed to hours. More significantly, the chance of going on a 20-tournament downswing is equally likely but far more costly live--a loss of $200,000 as compared with $2,000. 
The pitfalls of live poker leave me pondering a third option, one that's the most drastic but also possibly the most desirable: Move to another country. If I left the United States, I could keep working from home and continue to earn money playing poker online. Leaving aside the logistical and emotional hurdles related to going abroad, I need to decide which of the last two choices I prefer. I can stay in the city I love but spend most of my time in casinos and card rooms, environments I don't particularly like. Or, I can pick up my home-office setup and relocate for some period to a foreign country, maintaining the same structure and lifestyle I have now.
I suspect that soon enough, online poker would have ceased to be a feasible way to earn a living: as bots get better, eventually, they'll beat even the best humans too often to make it a good way to earn a living.  But that doesn't excuse the government's ridiculous persecution of people for doing something online that would be perfectly legal if they'd been willing to pay an airline to transport them to Las Vegas.
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Megan McArdle is a columnist at Bloomberg View and a former senior editor at The Atlantic. Her new book is The Up Side of Down.

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