There is a never-ending debate at which poker game is most profitable. Some forms of poker are already figured out by machines, and there is so much learning material out there, that everyone knows the game to a certain degree. But do not lose hope. Some poker games are extremely profitable, even in 2020 and beyond. They might be a smart choice if you are new to poker, as it will be easier for a beginner to make some serious money.
Right now, Short deck Holdem (also known as 6+) is the most profitable poker game. Not far behind are tournaments and Pot-Limit Omaha. But games in poker are evolving fast, so a year or two from now, things could change.
Let’s have a deeper look at why these games are the most profitable right now.
Short deck Holdem poker is the most profitable game
It’s not surprising that you haven’t heard of a new poker variant called short deck Holdem, also known as 6+. It is fairly new but is gaining popularity fast. It plays like normal No-Limit Holdem, but only with cards 6 and up. A6789 is the lowest straight and flush beats the full house.
But the strategy itself is a lot different than in traditional games. Equities run much closer together. For example, with AK, you are a big underdog in full deck poker, but in 6+, you are almost flipping. Similarly, the equities of JT and similar cards goes up by a lot preflop. JT is a pure coinflip against AK and not underdog like in full deck poker.
Short deck Holdem is the most profitable poker game because it is a fairly new poker format; the players who decide to switch from the full deck poker have no idea how to play correctly.
I know this because I was one of them. It is hard to find useful resources about the strategy, and this makes it perfect to play. After putting in 100 hours of learning the format, you should be good enough to make $1,000 per month. If you are very serious about it and devote more time to learning, then in a year, you can be making around $10,000 monthly.
I genuinely believe short deck poker is the softest poker game right now, and it is not even close. There are no poker solvers yet for it, and study material is costly and hard to get. Not like in traditional full deck Holdem, where even the beginners often have access to proper preflop raising ranges.
In short-deck poker preflop ranges are 85% of what you need to know. If you learn proper preflop ranges by heart, you will be a winning player.
But finding the right preflop open ranges is hard, and it will cost you some money, there are no free resources as of now, to let you know which hands are open and which aren’t.
It also matters a lot how much you should open. I see that more than half of the people have no idea if and when they should limp and when to open shove on micro stakes. Yes, that is a correct play often, because the game plays with antes, and there is a lot of dead money before any action.
If you want to get a big advantage over the playing field, then I found two poker sites for you:
- Six Plus Holdem: Focuses only on short deck poker and has very valuable preflop charts. In there they explain to you also how much you should open. You can either buy the bundle (best value) or a single preflop open chart depending on the number of big blinds you play with.
- Upswing’s short deck course: This is the only 6+ course that is available right now. If you are very serious about the game, then you should get it. The biggest downside is its price. But if you are serious, and want to get to mid and high-stakes, then you will eventually need to invest in it.
Because equities run so close together, 6+ is very exciting to play. You are continually going all-in preflop, and stacks are flying left and right. This means that even awful players can win over 10 buyins in a single session, which is why short deck appeals to so many players. Once you start playing it, it is tough to go back to standard poker. But close equities and going all-in all the time bring enormous variance. So if you can’t take it mentally, then maybe you shouldn’t play it.
No doubt, short deck Holdem is a sure bet if you want to get good enough to make $1,000 consistently in poker the fastest. 6+ is also the safest way to go if you’re going to make over $10,000 per month the fastest. But for that, you will need to invest some money upfront. There are no cheap $10 courses or monthly subscriptions that will teach you how to master it. The closest to free resources is the Six Plus Holdem on Youtube.
Tournaments are very profitable
I have already shown you that poker tournaments can be a very lucrative way to make some serious money. But what makes tournaments so profitable?
Tournaments are very profitable because big guaranteed prize pools invite many weak players to join. That makes the overall field of players reasonably soft, and the chances to outplay them are significant.
Tournaments are also quite easy to learn. In early stages, you play mostly tight, and once you are short-stacked, you learn push/fold charts, and you will quickly become a profitable player. Tournaments are a lot easier to learn than traditional cash games, as due to smaller stack size, there is less of postflop play you need to master. Especially in turbos, where edges get lower, and you can’t make big mistakes when you misplay your hand.
If you want to read more about a full guide on turbo tournaments – then go here.
But there isn’t just the upside to MTT’s (multi-table tournaments). With big playing fields, you can expect significant variance, and big variance means inconsistent winnings. Tournaments are notorious for how you keep hitting final tables for one week, followed by months of no big cashes.
Tournaments are a profitable poker game. But you shouldn’t play them unless you can deal with variance.
Keep in mind that standard tournaments last up to 8 hours or more online, while in live games, it is not uncommon they are played through several days.
Easy to make money at Pot-Limit Omaha
Playing 4 cards poker is always fun. In Pot-Limit Omaha (PLO), you can expect a lot of action. PLO has grown in popularity the past few years, and just like with any game, this means an influx of new inexperienced players.
Just like tournaments and 6+, Omaha also has a more significant variance than NL cash games. Even bad players go on large heaters. This tricks many players into believing they are the best player at the tables when, in reality, they could be making some huge mistakes.
Nobody walks away from the poker format if they think they are a good player. And once you start losing, you will remember the days when you were winning a lot. This will further convince you that you need to keep playing.
On top of that, PLO hasn’t been so popular as Holdem and has less good resources to learn the strategy available. Not to mention it also takes longer to master PLO than NLHE (no limit Holdem). If you are looking for quick, easy profits, then PLO is not for you. If you want fast results, then 6+ is the choice. PLO takes time, but once you get good at it, it is easy to make good money.
PLO is very profitable because it is hard to master, and many players wrongfully think they are great at it because of the positive variance they might experience.
How to pick the right game for you
In order to ask yourself which poker game is right for you, you need to ask yourself the following:
- Are you okay with high variance
- Do you want to start making money fast
- Do you want consistent money
- Do you like learning preflop charts in detail
|Poker game||Variance||How easy to learn||Consistent earnings||Need to learn preflop charts|
|Holdem cash game||normal||medium||yes||normal|
|Live Holdem cash game||low||easy||medium||not really|
|Short deck Holdem||high||very easy||medium||very high|
You can absolutely make money with every single one of the poker games mentioned in the table. But with some, it is a lot easier to make money than with others.
Live NL Holdem cash games
I have included live NL Holdem cash games in the table above just as a comparison, but it is a viable choice. All the others focus on online playing. It is true that live poker games have very low variance and are easy to learn, but due to the low amount of hands you play per hour, you could not make any money for 3 months in a row. If you like socializing, then live games might be a perfect fit for you. It is quite easy to make $20/h playing live poker. On the other hand, it takes a lot more effort to make the same amount playing NL Holdem cash games online.
Tournaments are a popular and very viable choice, but you need to be prepared for high variance and very inconsistent winnings. You can play 5000 tournaments and be a winning player, but at the end of the year, not make any money. The variance is just so big. Still, many players like to play tournaments, as they are easy to beat because they face many weak opponents.
If you decide to play tournaments, keep in mind that it can take a very long time to make your first big win, even though you are playing correctly. Choose to play in smaller poker sites (GG poker for example), where tournaments will mostly have less than 500 entries, and you will reduce variance by a lot. But if you play on PokerStars and low buyin tournaments, then be prepared to battle for the win with a few thousand people every time.
Online No-Limit Holdem cash games
For online cash games, you must get a good rakeback deal. That way, even the high variance games like PLO and short deck poker generate you a consistent income, that you can cash out for yourself. It is not uncommon to make $30/h or more just in rakeback alone. It is still possible to be a pro it this game in 2020 and beyond, but it requires more hard work than tournaments. But cash games online have two excellent things going for them:
- Consistent income: cash games are your best bet if you want somewhat of a regular income. Not only rakeback, which is guaranteed income, but also actual poker winnings. I played tournaments for a few months, but the huge variance and inconsistent income was too much for me. I eventually returned to cash game and consistent income.
- Average variance: variance is not too bad in online Holdem no-limit cash poker games. If you are playing full time, then you shouldn’t be down after three months of playing. And you get closer to your actual winrate a lot faster than in tournaments or PLO.
Pot-limit Omaha (PLO)
Pot-limit Omaha (PLO) is a fascinating game. If you like to gamble a bit more and are not affected by big money swings, this game is perfect for you. Good rakeback negates the big swings to a degree, and overall it is easier to make bigger hourly compared to NL Holdem games. Just don’t play it live, as swings are big enough, that you could be breakeven after a year of playing, even though you are a good player.
Short deck (6+) Holdem
Short deck (6+) Holdem is a fairly new poker game. It was introduced on PokerStars at the start of 2019. Because the game is so new, there aren’t many good players playing it yet. If you like that hand equities run very close together and are not afraid to gamble, you will love Short deck (6+) Holdem. I played every variation of poker, and Short deck Holdem is most enjoyable to play. Constant action, frequent all-ins, and terrible opponents – all this makes 6+ a great choice.
How much do pro poker players make?
Many eastern European pro poker players make only $1,000 per month. But this gives them a nice lifestyle in their country as average salaries are only half of that. More to the west you go, the bigger the income pros make. Someone in the USA will not be a pro if he makes only $1,000 per month. He will instead play part-time. In the states, pros will be making $50,000 and up per year. Really good poker players make around half a million per year, with a tiny percentage of pros making more than a million per year.
Is online poker still profitable?
Poker has gotten tougher through the years. The game has evolved, and the times of soft tables just after Chris Moneymaker boom are long gone. The online poker, even though tougher, is still beatable. Anyone that learns poker strategies consistently can make $5,000 per month. Tournaments, pot-limit Omaha, and Short deck(6+) Holdem are especially profitable, and now it is a great time to play them, and anyone can get good enough to make $10,000 per month.
Is poker dying?
Many people are worried poker is starting to die. Many countries are beginning to regulate poker, which means that number of active poker players has gone down. Poker solvers are getting widespread, and more good tutorials on how to play correctly.
But in the last year or so, poker has been on the significant rise. Many mobile applications now allow you to play poker with Asian players, which means many more new players to poker and games are softer than they were a few years ago. New popular poker format like Short deck Holdem that is very fun to play is also growing fast. Players have no idea how to play it properly yet, so it is a great idea to jump in poker now.
Now you know which games are the most popular. This should help you with an important decision to select your poker format. Keep in mind the softness of games is not always the deciding factor. It is necessary to consider if you are okay with inconsistent winnings and more significant variance. If you can’t handle those well, then it is okay to play a poker format that you enjoy, you can still make decent money.