My job is playing poker online

Despite having gone to one of the best universities in the world, Mark Maxwell prefers to play poker online for a living.

When I meet somebody new they often ask me what I do, I only answer 'I play poker'.

I would have more of a problem with it, not only because I'd have to explain it in details, as people are often more concerned in online poker than in talking about their jobs.

An average sum that I make is about USD40 an hour and I play online poker 30 hours a week – it isn’t rather a full-time job, so I have time to do web consultancy a little bit, read many books, and go off on holiday without arranging leave.

I’ve just returned from a few weeks in Puerto Rico, and I'm glad to say I played poker all this- that was rather reassuring.

If you know what is gambling in casinos, playing online poker is in essence the same matter.

The difference between a bricks and mortar casino and online casino is that in online one you can play at more than one table at once. Sometimes I log into several poker sites at a time, so I don't have to be an excellent player to make the similar money amount.

'My poker face'

But online poker is quite a different game in some ways. It's much faster, as there is no chat around the table. This interplay is a central game element for casino players, as for me it is more mathematical.

At a casino I'd actually lose because these people can understand body language. I don't know whether I have a poker face.

Once I went to a casino, I had a royal flush, as it always happens occasionally, my hands were shaking greatly and everybody understood something was up. (The odds of being dealt this winning hand are 650,000 to 1)

However online, I could be shaking a lot in front of the computer, it’d look like a normal raise was being made.

To help me to play better I'm trying to write a computer program. Whereas I could try to program it to play while I'm out, I'm not certain this is my aim. I don't suppose I'm rather a good player to write a winning program, and other players are unlikely to play against a robot.

The way I play is not a secret. The most common beginners’ mistake is not folding (stopping betting on a weak hand) rather early. I had to get through that and sit a hand out.

'I lost USD 5,000'

My highest wins have been almost the same as my highest losses - only hopefully they occur a little bit more often. In one day I've lost about US$5,000, but I have won almost the same amount as well. Someday I'm buying the beer, the next my friends are buying it.

My first big loss happened when I had first started to be cocky. I believed I was doing just fine, when I wasn't really.

A friend and I had got about USD 4,000 from an initial $300 pool, and I lost US$1,500 in one day over three months.

I had a great loss of confidence. I read a number of books and joined a couple of forums on poker strategies online. I went back to playing armed with this new knowledge a year ago.

Now, I'm always weighing up whether I actually know what I'm doing. But always there are days when I can’t make mistakes, and every bluff that I make goes my way. I just must treat each and every hand just like the one before.

I deem gambling as something to tide me over whilst I figure out what it is that I’d like to do next. So far it has not worked out as I had hoped – not to have direction is not a good way to get direction - however it has been a superb vacation.

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