This article is for the recreational poker player that aspires to become a full-time professional.
Poker may seem like a cool job with a glamorous lifestyle, but is that really the case? Read on to see if you are ready to turn pro.
The Benefits of Playing Poker for a Living
First, let's start with why anyone would want to become a professional poker player. If this is obvious to you then skip to the next section!
- Choose your own hours - if you don't feel like working today, you don't have to!
- You are your own boss - there is no one ordering you around.
- You get all the freedom that you want - it is possible to wake up whenever you feel like it.
- You can make more money than people your age, with relatively less effort.
- There aren't many jobs in the world that are as fun as poker.
- You can make huge sums of money in a very short period of time - everyone loves a quick buck!
- If you move to somewhere like the UK, poker is completely legal and you don't have to pay any taxes on your winnings.
- You can be lazy and disorganized, yet still make a fortune! This is something you simply can't get away with in the real world.
- You are able to fulfill your dreams. In life, you should do what you enjoy the most. Most people grow up wanting to be an actor, tennis player, singer etc. Professional poker is an alternate route to one of those glamorous careers.
How Much Do You Really Enjoy Poker?
OK let's begin!
If you are reading this, you have probably played poker 'a bunch' and are quite enjoying it. But do you want to play poker 5-6 times a week for the rest of your life? It may seem like poker is the only thing you want to do right now, but in a few years' time you may think otherwise!
Also take into account the variance involved. It is possible that you may have been running above expectation. In poker, downswings are inevitable and you have to be able to handle it. Downswings can be very tough and cruel. Be prepared for them, because no matter how good you are, it will happen to you.
You need to be completely immersed in poker and know about pretty much everything related to poker. You need to have that urge to play poker every single day if you want to become a professional poker player.
What Skills Are Required To Become a Professional Poker Player?
Another factor to consider is how good you really are at poker. Are you really cut out for it? Most people aren't. Here are some of the qualities that you need to become a successful professional poker player:
- Have good temperament, discipline and self-control.
- You need to be fairly intelligent. You don't need to be a genius, but if you are always bottom of your Math's class then reconsider your career.
- Have a reasonable mathematical background - you need a general understanding of odds and variance.
- You need to be competitive, but at the same time be able to put your ego aside.
- Good analytical skills.
- Good at reading people.
- Have a good knack for games and gambling. This is similar to in business where people talk about having a good 'business acumen' - the term sounds a lot like bulls*** but in fact it matters enormously!
- You should generally be a positive person.
- Able to handle pressure.
- Be able to pick yourself up during bad times.
The Realities of Life as a Professional Poker Player
When you turn pro, you need to keep improving constantly. Most professional poker players keep on improving after they have turned pro. You need to constantly put in the hours and keep studying the game.
Generally, poker and social life do not go hand in hand. But if you can find the right balance between poker and life then that is a bonus. You need to ask yourself how you will be viewed by your family, friends and the community in which you live in. Ignore this last advice if you don't care about what others think of you!
Forget about what you see on TV. Life of the average professional poker player is not quite like the poker players that you see on the World Poker Tour or the World Series of Poker. Prepare for a long grind.
Just imagine the professions like actors and footballers (soccer). At the very top, there are big rewards and they are mostly overpaid. But for the majority, it is a grind!
Also besides variance, there are also other factors that you have absolutely no control in poker. Do you think poker is going to be legal in your country forever? Look at the U.S. and Black Friday as an example. And finally, are poker games in your area or online going to continue to be as good as they are?
How Much Money Have You Been Making From Poker?
It is better to have a long period of consistent results than one big tournament win. If you have been making more money from poker than your job for the last 12 months then you might be ready to turn pro.
But to turn pro, you should really be making a lot more from poker than your normal job. If you make about the same amount of money as your current job, you should probably stick to your job.
Remember all the negatives associated with poker (particularly the downswings) and think about whether it is all worth it. If you have been making lots of money from poker, do you think your win rate is sustainable?
Are You Ready to Become a Professional Poker Player?
You might be at a stage in your life where you are better off doing other things. A good example of this is if you are in university/college. You can still play poker in your spare time and make money from it while you finish your degree.
Think about what you will be sacrificing in order to pursue your poker dream. Is quitting your job really worth it? It may seem like a good idea at the time but you may regret it later.
Do you have any backup plans? Poker may go horribly wrong for you and you will find yourself left behind by people your age. Having a degree is a good start, but you need more than that nowadays.
Moreover, do you currently have a big enough bankroll? You need even more buy-ins when your main source of income is poker. Play it safe and go for 50 buy-ins for cash games and 200 buy-ins for tournaments. There are more variance in poker than most people think.
However, a new breed of poker players are staked players in tournaments. If you are backed by someone you don't even need to have a bankroll, provided you have a good track record and someone that trusts you. There are in fact many upsides to this. Stay tuned for an article dedicated to staked poker players.
Just Go For It
If you've read all the above and still think poker as a career is right for you, then you need to just go for it! Poker needs to become the absolute top priority in your life. Just keep putting the hours in. If you play online you need to get the very best deals and rewards to increase your profitability. You should be reading books, forums, strategy websites and also watch poker training videos. Who knows, you might be the next Phil Ivey. Good luck!