Last updated on : 01 Jan, 1970

Truth About Poker Tournament Profitability

With the explosion of poker sites and poker tournaments in India over the last couple of years and with many more people just traveling abroad and in India to play poker tournaments, it is very essential for us to break down the numbers and see how sustainable live poker is given the obvious overheads which come with it.

I understand that I am a poker pro for one of the biggest poker sites in India and you will obviously be a little worried about where this is coming from as my job description would be to get more people play online. However, I am trying to break it down as much as I can and give you very very reasonable real-life numbers to back my math.

Here goes:-


  1. You travel every two months to Goa. 
  2. You pay for flights and Accommodation from your own pocket.
  3. You are a crushing reg with about 35% ROI on buyins.

An event in Goa, typically will cost you about 1.5 Lakhs to play and if you make it to 6 events in a year that is 9 Lakhs. 

So if you meet the above criteria you expect to make roughly 3,15,000 (35% of 9 Lakhs) . If you take TDS of 30% into consideration this number becomes 2,20,500. (i.e. Less 30% TDS)

Heads Calculation Amount Number Of Trips Total
Accommodation 3500*5 nights 17500 6 105000
Food 1000*5 5000 6 30000
Flights 10000 to and fro 10000 6 60000
Misc 5000 5000 6 30000
TOTAL 225000

The above table shows a reasonably fair budget for your yearly poker trips.

If you see with an ROI of 35% (i.e. Typically an excellent player's Return on Investment), you are not even breaking even. You end up losing 4500 at the end of the year.

Now before you jump in and tell me that hey that's not a bad price to pay to play poker and have fun, you are right. It is not a bad price. However, this price is valid if you are an absolute crusher. If you are not, then this price is going to be much higher.

Here is ROI wise data:-

ROI Return After TDS Total Profit /Loss
35% 315000 220500 -4500
30% 270000 189000 -36000
25% 225000 157500 -67500
20% 180000 126000 -99000

To give some perspective on ROI, Chris Moorman, who is widely considered the best tournament player in the world, has a lifetime ROI of about 28%. So you do the math.

I am not trying to crush your big MTT win/ glory hunting dream but before you go all out, you need to know that you are losing money every time you head out to a live event and although very few admit, most Indian Pros in the tournament circuit lose money and survive longer because of sponsorships, action selling etc.

Good luck at the tables.

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