The Complete How to Guide to Building Your Poker Career

poker career

I know many of you reading my articles are serious about poker. Its not just about winning some extra money, you enjoy the game and want to build a poker career. That doesn’t necessarily mean being a full time professional. Having poker as a lucrative part-time income can be better than going full time due to the security involved in a regular job. But with so much noise and bad information around you might be questioning what advice to follow when it comes to building a solid poker career? That’s why I’m writing this how to guide. If you follow it diligently, you can have a long poker career.

Get Tough

If you struggle with dealing with variance or have to set small stop losses’, poker as a career isn’t realistic. Anyone who plays serious volume faces terrible variance at some point, that’s just the reality. If you are not tough enough to accept it and take a long-term view, poker isn’t for you. It takes mental fortitude to succeed at poker so you must get tough and accept that bad luck and/or bad play will harm you from time to time.

Stick to a Schedule

Gambling can be a pleasurable activity that is done on an ad hoc basis but its not workable for poker. You can’t expect to build a poker career by playing randomly from one week to the next. Structure is important and you need to find consistent times to play. This gives routine to your poker playing and will enable you to plan effectively. Creating a schedule is easy, its sticking to it that can prove challenging.

Use Conservative Figures for Budgeting

With variance and uncertainties in poker, budgeting can be tricky. That’s why I recommend using very conservative figures. This means having even more buy-ins than you previously had. It also means you assume a lower win rate when you forecast what you expect to win each month. It may seem negative but its wise to take a cautious and prudent approach when predicting success at poker. You can mitigate risk by choosing easier games or playing on softer sites e.g. casinos accepting POLi payment often have a fishy cardroom.

poker spreadsheet

Avoid Staking Arrangements

This might be a controversial point as you can certainly build a successful career getting staked. But, speaking from experience, its better to do things your own way. If you can’t afford to play a certain level, you work your way up. A player who thinks they can beat NL $200 but can’t afford it should crush lower stakes to generate enough of a bankroll. Why jump up poker stakes and give away a high amount of what you’d win? By avoiding staking deals, you can build your own poker career independently and not rely on others to help you out.

Keep Studying

To keep winning and moving up stakes, poker players need to keep studying and improving. If you hit a ceiling and aren’t continuously learning, your opponents are closing the gap on you. They’ll be narrowing the difference in ability. That’s why its vital to maintain a humble attitude towards learning poker. With humility and a can do attitude, you can master advanced concepts that will serve you well as you move up to higher levels. It will also help you earn more money and keep poker engaging. If you don’t keep studying you may suffer burn out and get bored of poker.

Have a Plan B

Whilst I hope anyone reading this wanting a poker career fulfils their ambitions, many won’t. For those that fail to succeed, you’ll want to have something to fall back on. Therefore, I’m suggesting having a plan B. Ensure you have a safety net and something you can do if poker doesn’t work out. Who knows what will happen in the future? Its sensible to know what you’ll do in the event you can’t build the career you want.

If any of you are considering taking poker seriously and want to chat with me, feel free to book in a free half an hour chat with me below.

Narciso Baldo is the Director and Head Coach of Texas Hold'em Questions. He has been playing poker for over 16 years. After spending many years as a professional, he now runs UK poker training site Texas Hold'em Questions. Narciso regularly writes poker articles sharing tips, strategy, news and experience with gambling enthusiasts. Narciso also writes for reputable gambling portal Casino City Times, (bio here). Contact: