I started with a simple $50 deposit on Pokerstars back in the day after I saw Chris Moneymaker win the World Series of Poker on TV. I used to always play with my buddies socially (we were all pretty terrible at that point), and once I got the poker bug I had to try it online.
I initially played $5.50 Sit-n-Gos on PokerStars, and grinded out a small profit playing them over a long period. Once I figured out the basic optimal strategy (play tight early on followed by eventually switching to push-fold mode once you get to less than 15 BB’s or so), I started multi-tabling the $5.50 Sit-n-Go’s by playing 4 at a time. From that initial $50 deposit I never went bust. Once my bankroll was sufficiently large (I think around $500), I switched to playing $16 Turbo Sit-n-Gos (four at a time) and grinded those out. Sit-n-Go’s are profitable because your typical opponents at these stakes are beyond terrible at poker, but once you start moving up and playing with other players who understand the strategy, you jump on the variance train and it’s like playing bingo.
Then randomly I went out to Vegas for a vacation with my buddy and started playing $1-2 No-Limit cash games. I instantly started making money at cash games because the people that play $1-2 NL live in Vegas are also beyond terrible. I ended up staying in Vegas for 4 weeks just grinding out $1-2 No-Limit every day. By the end of the four weeks I was up around $5,000 and the decision to switch to playing online cash games was very easy. I realized that was where the money was to be made.
So I started playing 25NL online with my old SNG bankroll, and quickly moved up 50NL and then 100NL after I started beating them for a decent amount. After watching some big winners online, I realized that the real money was made playing 6max (as opposed to Full Ring 9-handed) with a tight-aggressive style that I still advocate in my videos today. I stayed at 100NL for maybe a month or two, and then moved up to 200NL where I grinded out a large number of hands. I think anyone who is disciplined and dedicated to learning the game can beat 200NL consistently. It took me some time to move to 400NL because the games are a lot more aggressive (I would play 200NL and then add in some 400NL tables when I was feeling good about my game), and eventually I made the switch full-time to 400NL after grinding at least 100,000 hands at 200NL. One thing to say is never feel bad about moving down if you are running bad, as we all run/play bad from time to time. Follow strict bankroll rules, and don’t “move up” to chase losses or stay at a level where you can’t sustain the swings – this is the quickest way to hit busto-ville.
One other tip I have is to remember, that at many points in your poker career, you will run worse than you can possibly imagine. It happens. Play enough hands and you will eventually run terrible for a seemingly endless amount of time. I’ve had up to 20-buyin downswings before. They are tough to weather mentally, but if you stay calm, continue to grind, don’t chase your losses, and make sure you follow a strict bankroll strategy, you’ll be okay.
Nowdays I play a mix of 400NL, 600NL and 1000NL, wherever I find good games with players that like to donate money to my cause (ie. weak passive players).