Becoming a Professional Poker Player

becoming a professional poker player

Thinking of Becoming a Professional Poker Player?

A professional poker player is someone who makes their primary living from playing poker. They may do this by playing in casinos, online or both. A few decades ago, it was a taboo career to tell people you had. I remember looking at an apartment for a 6-month tenancy and telling the agent that I was a professional poker player and she was taken aback. Since the poker boom and increase in popularity through poker on TV, professional poker has been a realistic and viable way of making a very good living for some people. Not everyone is going to make millions like Phil Ivey or Daniel Negreanu but there are many happy to turn over much better earnings than a job would afford them.

Whilst becoming a professional poker playing may be a goal for many, there are some serious considerations before taking the plunge. My goal with this article is not to encourage or dissuade anyone from becoming a professional poker player. This article is only designed to give you pause for thought and ensure you are taking all aspects into consideration before making such a grand decision. I hope the questions in this article help you think through your decision carefully.

How Much Do You Expect To Earn?

Sometimes a decent player with a year or so of consistent winning thinks he has enough to become a professional poker player. You need a lot of data and many months of consistent earnings in order to estimate what you can reasonably expect to earn as a living. It’s essential you’ve been monitoring your win rate for some time. The other thing is how much have you played to draw the conclusion? It’s one thing playing once a week for 10 hours part-time and it’s another playing 50 hours.

Take 20% off what you realistically think you can make per month/year from poker. Is this figure an amount you are happy with?

What Are Your Monthly Life/Operating Costs?

You should already have a budget of your monthly outgoings, if you don’t, then draw one up. Look at the standing orders, direct debits and make prudent estimates for costs like shopping and fuel.

Once you know what your monthly costs, add 10% on for unforeseen items like car breakdown.

Now you know the minimum need to bring in every month to pay for your expenses. You can reconcile this with what you expect to earn each month and see if going professional is a no go already.

How Mentally Tough Are You?

You may be a winning player but how do you handle a bad run or adversity? Do your crumble under pressure or on a losing run? Have you experienced a bad a run and came through it? It’s no good being a strong player but going on tilt easily and throwing away your winnings. Being mentally tough is a must for a professional poker player.

A professional poker player knows they will have bad sessions, days and weeks.

They are focused on the long run and know a bad session will happen.

What Does Your Family & Friends Think?

Going professional is a huge decision and whilst some player’s do it irrespective of what others think, its always a good idea to get feedback from your loved ones. If they think it’s a solid decision for you and give you support, it will make the transition easier and help you down the line, if you have a bad run.

Have a chat with your friends and family and take on board their input before making a decision.

They will want what is best for you so it’s worth hearing what they have to say, even if they have little technical understanding of poker.

What is Your Contingency Plan?

You need to have a safety net, a back up plan if it all goes wrong or you change your mind. Think of this in advance and have one in place. Will you back to your old job? Will you look for something else or do you have a side income that you can monetise better?

If you plan on going professional, have a contingency plan in place so you are not completely lost if it goes bad.

Can You Motivate Yourself?

When you are self-employed, no set hours and no boss, self-motivation is very important. You need to balance your work with life. Common mistakes are doing too much work but not at your best, or not doing enough and struggling to motivate yourself. Having a routine and sticking to it is a good idea, but don’t feel obligated to stick to it if you are playing poorly or distracted.

The worst thing you can do is play for the sake of it.

Final Thought…

Becoming a professional poker player is a massive decision, not to be taken lightly. There are very few long-term winners that have the other skills required to be professional. You need support, a plan, a budget, mental toughness, a love of the game and the ability to motivate yourself to pull it off.

If you meet all these criteria, then becoming a professional poker player may be for you. If not, don’t worry! You can still earn lots from poker and have fun at the same time.

Thinking of going professional and want some independent advice? Why not book in a free 30 minute consultation?

“Calculator and Money” by Images_of_Money is licensed under CC BY 2.0