Professional Poker Player

Do you think you have what it takes to become a professional poker player? Of course, not everybody makes the cut. But, if you are willing to put in the time and effort, you could have a rewarding and unconventional career that most people only dream about — playing professional poker. The next question people ask is, what are the requirements?

The Challenges and The Rewards

Poker PlayerGoing from being an amateur player to becoming a professional requires a lot of forethought. This is a life-changing decision, so make sure it’s something you really want before you start. You will have to learn professional winning strategies and decide whether you want to play live or online or in tournaments and/or cash games.

The career of a professional poker player may sound glamorous, but it is not for the faint of heart. You will encounter inevitable down times and multiple consecutive losses sometimes, which is hard on your bank account and your self-esteem. The hours are long, and the days can be grueling. But, the dangling carrot you’re reaching for is a real one and the lucky few make a decent income. Regular folks can make a go of it, either by going through the daily grind at cash tables and/or winning tournaments consistently.

The Effects on Family and Lifestyle

Managing financesManaging your finances can also be a challenge. Professional poker players don’t get paid regularly. Instead, they earn their money daily or weekly. Sometimes a payoff takes as long as months or even a year. Variance can still win out over even the best players, so be prepared to lose money consistently and remember that the game usually goes in streaks. A long winning streak may well wind up in an even longer dry spell. But, if you’re resilient, you’ll be OK … maybe better than OK! Keep in mind you can turn semi-pro and earn a part-time income while keeping your day job, but this will still require four to six hours a day of your time.

Establishing Your Bankroll

poker player incomeBRM is an acronym for bankroll management. If you have $6,000 set aside to play, the cash game you could realistically play is 200 NL. That has a buy-in of around $200 and blinds of $1 or $2. That means you’d have about 30 buy-ins for this bankroll. The upper limit of the MTT that you would be able to buy in is approximately $60per tournament. After this, you would have to figure out the amount of money you spend on everyday living and add that in.

As an example, if your goal is to earn 2K a month as a professional poker player, it’s a good idea to reserve about six months’ worth of income or $12,000, plus the $6,000 to get started, which equates to $18,000.

Adding Up Targeted Winnings

poker winningsYour goal may be to earn enough to pay your living expenses or you may want to shoot for higher stakes and take a chance on getting wealthy. Most pros use a statistic that calculates the average of big blinds that are won in relation to 100 hands or BB/100. Employing this statistic, that means a pro could earn $600 monthly for 30 BB/100 hands (2 NL) or at the higher end, $6,000 monthly for 3BB/100 hands (200 NL). Once you know your average win rate, you can extrapolate your income. Just remember that you must calculate your win rate with a decent-sized sample to make sure it is accurate.

Getting a Heads-Up Display (HUD) And Other Tools and Strategies

online pokerMost online poker players use a HUD, which compiles player stats and stores them in a database. With a lot of clients, this system will display the stats of the opponent right on the tables online, such as PFR, VPIP, and 3B percent, etc. HUD is especially useful when you’re playing multiple tables. When combined with HHRs, or hand history reviews, a pro can learn a lot about his or her own poker-playing ability, as well as that of his or her opponent. These tools will greatly help improve your strategy with sheer numbers. The rest, of course, falls on you and your ability to strategically think at that moment. There will be a learning curve on the path to going pro.

The main thing that negatively affects results is variance. Remember, many things are out of your control and the only thing that you can truly control is your second-to-second decision making.

But, it is a numbers game and the pros have certain styles Those styles are described using certain terminology: tight (narrow-hand range) and loose (wide-hand range); then, aggressive (bets and raises frequently) and passive (checks and calls frequently). A characteristic is chosen from each set so there are two, i.e., the style that generates the most profit is usually Tight/Aggressive or TAG. This may or may not work for you, personally. You will have to develop your own style, size your bets right, and just go ahead and take your shot to be successful.

Online Versus Live

Online Versus Live pokerYou will have to decide if you want to play online or in land-based casinos. Playing online allows new pros or those just entering the field to play low stakes poker, which can be a godsend if you’re betting the car payment. Online poker also has more per-hour dealt hands, which make the game move more quickly and helps you overcome handicaps associated with being a newbie. The main reason the number of hands is greater online? Multi-tabling. It lets you play cash games while also playing tourneys, to up your odds of winning.

In contrast, live casinos offer larger pools because tournament buy-ins are higher for fields of similar size. Pros can score easy cash in big fields if they’re winning tournaments. Playing professional poker also affords one the opportunity to travel, and some say it is much easier to focus during play while at a land-based casino. Online play comes with distractions, such as the TV, and personal interruptions, which can interrupt your focus.

In the end, developing your strategy and keeping the mindset of a professional are the keys to your success. You will be required to gather the knowledge and necessary tools to become the kind of professional poker player that maintains a full-time income. But, with enough energy and focus, turning pro may well be within your reach.

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A Massachusetts native, blogger Angeline Everett grew up in the Allston neighborhood of Boston and earned a degree in casino management from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. After graduating, Angeline moved to Atlantic City where she joined the young team at the Borgata Casino as a compliance representative, while blogging on the side. After a few years in the back office, Angeline moved to the floor to work first at a casual poker dealer and later casual poker floor supervisor. Fascinated with games of chance since she was a child, Angeline currently divides her time between blogging and work on her first book.