Playing Poker Professionally

9 Top Tips for Pro Poker Players

Making the decision to turn pro as a professional no Limit Texas Holdem poker player is a tough yet rewarding decision. It is a fantastic job where you will not even feel like it is work and who knows – you may make it on to TV one day scooping down the winning pot at the WSOP. Professional poker players make a hell of a lot of money and it is very easy to want a slice of that very tempting warm apple pie.

There are one or two things to think about before you tell your current boss where to stick his job, and sell the shirt off your back for some bankroll. Making this decision to follow the professional poker road is not easy and so here are some things you should be thinking about.

  1. Think about the amount of actual experience you have at real money poker tables, playing for your own hard-earned cash. A lot of newcomers to the game have racked up hours of online free game play instead of sitting down at the proper real money tables. Unless you have thousands of hours of real money poker experience behind you, this avenue is probably worth reconsidering. People that play for real money are a lot more serious about their game and will not relinquish it easily. You should have a wealth of experience of playing poker at different blind levels and with complete strangers in both online and offline environments.
  2. What will your starting bankroll be? Poker can just as quickly lose you money as it can win you money and you must be prepared to experience a run of bad cards from time to time. It happens to the best of us every once in a while. You should NEVER gamble with money that you can not afford to lose. You should have enough money to pay your bills first. A good rule of thumb is to have 20 times the buy-in fee in your bankroll at any one time. So if your bankroll is £1,000 then the top price poker tournament you should be sitting in is a £50 buy-in fee. The maximum you should be sitting down with in any one go at a cash game is £50. As your bankroll grows, you can start playing in more expensive tourneys and cash games, and as it shrinks you can come back down in size. If you stick to the 20x level you will find this a good way to manage your money and keep your poker finances in check.
  3. Be prepared to lose. It is possible to be hit with a run of bad luck that can last for hours as well as consecutive days. You must be mentally and financially strong enough to handle these days when they hit you.
  4. Be aware that the blinds alone can diminish your bankroll as quickly as another player at the table. You must be experienced enough to take your chances and steal blinds every once in a while to keep your head above water because if you don’t defend your blinds then someone else will take your money for little or no effort.
  5. Playing poker professionally is a business and it should be treated as such. You should be charting your wins and losses, keeping track of which tournaments are coming up on what dates, which ones you want to enter, how much the entry fee is, what time you need to arrive by… A lot of pro poker players will all tell you the same thing, that playing poker professionally must be looked upon as a job and a business if you want to succeed and progress as a profitable poker player.
  6. A great amount of discipline is required to play poker at pro level. You need to have the patience to sit for hours on end folding a good 90% of your hands yet at the same time staying 100% focused on the game in hand and watching what others are doing. At first that might sound like a piece of cake but it’s a lot tougher to do in real life. If you get bored easily or have a short attention span you will find yourself getting frustrated with the game all too soon and will be on tilt before you know it.
  7. where have you played before? mostly online or offline? It is critical that you have experience of playing in live environments if you want to be a profitable pro poker player. Playing a live game is very different to playing online as there are so many other things to think about such as keeping an eye on your opponents and making sure you yourself are not giving away any tells. If you need some real table experience, then start at the low limit tables and slowly work your way up until you find your level. Hitting the pro circuit without real life experience is a good way to lose money.
  8. Playing as a pro involves a life on the road. You have to be comfortable with traveling from one place to the next, traveling light with bare essentials and eating in restaurants as you will not have the time or energy to cook for yourself.
  9. If you have a partner or spouse, you should really be open and talk to them about this first. Are they going to be supportive of what you do or will they hold it against you? This is important information you need to find out before you make your choice.

Only when you have really thought about every angle of playing professional poker for a living, and have put in the required hours at the poker table are you ready to take on the world. Don’t jump in with both feet otherwise it will cost you a lot more dearly in the long run.

One comment

  1. i totally agree. one of the most strongest point of a player is patience. One has to wait for a good starting hand even 4 hours if necessary, and i do not mean AA, but suited cards at least starting with the A even A2, but fold if raised. All u need is 5-10 winning hands.

    Comment by alban on April 2, 2012 at 4:30 pm

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