How to become a poker pro

Being able to make a living out of poker is a dream for a lot of people – and it is one that is entirely possible. However, bridging the gap that separates the hobby player from the poker pro is not as simple as all that and attempting it isn’t a decision that should be taken lightly.

Taking the leap

“In the first two months I made $40,000. I thought, this is easy – why work when I can play poker.”

If you really want to make poker your job, when is the right time to do that? You need to have honed your skills before you even consider giving up your day job. If you are playing professionally, the standard of your opponents is going to be a great deal higher and those without a really solid grasp of the game will soon find themselves out of their depth. The next thing you need to consider is what you will need in terms of a bankroll and basic management dictates the minimum requirements as living expenses put aside for six months, 100 Multi-Table Tournament buy-ins, 20 Sit-N-Go buy-ins and 30 Cash Game Buy-Ins. Living expenses during your first six months as a pro include the likes of utility bills, rent, food and spending money. Work out how much you need for these each month and how much you hope to make per month as a pro player to determine the amount that needs to be held in reserve. Aside from the issue of the up-front cash necessary to cover your first months as a pro, you also need to know when you are ready as a player, and if you can look at a sample of between 100,000 and 250,000 hands of poker and point to positive results, you should consider going pro. Any sample size smaller than this does not really clarify whether you are consistently successful.

Pros and cons

“Becoming a professional poker player takes a serious commitment, and you have to put all of your heart, mind and soul into the game for long periods of time.”

This indicates one of the biggest drawbacks to going professional – the impact it will have on personal relationships, due to long and often unsociable hours spent at the table. Another is that even the best players have periods where they are losing and this can be a problem if you have family to support. As one pro puts it:

“Do you know what it’s like to go and work hard all day and lose $10,000? It happens to me all the time.”  

Even if you are single, periods like this can take a toll financially and psychologically, making it essential to have escape outlets. On the other hand, if you genuinely love the game, going professional lets you earn money from your passion and ensures you have the freedom of being your own boss. It also provides you with an opportunity to travel for different tournaments, if seeing the world is something you enjoy.

Being a professional poker player can offer freedom, a good income and travel, but also presents definite drawbacks. Thus you need to decide whether the pluses outweigh the minuses before making your choice.