This topic is on everyone’s mind. Usually if you are a poker player, nowadays at least, you might consider yourself a professional poker player if you make money every time you play, which is impossible might I add. I mean who wouldn’t want to be a professional in something that involves setting your own hours, playing a game that’s fun, and involves going to different places to enter tournaments? Believe me there aren’t only good things that come out of this. I’ve tried to be a “Professional” Poker Player before and let’s just say, it’s not exactly as easy as you think.
First off Poker isn’t a guaranteed money maker. In any form of gambling, there is no guarantee, and anyone that tells you they win every time while gambling is just plain old bullshitting you. The outcome of many gamblers at the end of the year is usually on the low end of the totem pole, believe it or not. Many of those Poker Players you see on TV are just compulsive gamblers trying to make a living. Sure… There are some that are legitimately rich, and do make a lot of money, but it’s only a select few.
Being a Professional Poker Player takes responsibility and discipline. Forget about making Poker your profession if you don’t have those two qualities because you will come out a loser, I guarantee it. Money management is a major key role also. Why do you think the “good” Poker Players count there chips before calling an all in? They make sure they have enough after just in case they lose the hand. When dedicating your life to the profession of Poker you also need to add up at the end of each year what you made. Sometimes winning a huge Poker Tournament that’s worth maybe $250,000.00 is not even enough to break you even in the end. You could be $100,000.00 in the hole, and that wouldn’t be a positive. Many people think if they win a huge tournament that they’re set for the year. Chances are you’re going to blow that money at the same game you won it from so that’s that. This is where money management comes into play, and must be taken seriously if you want to profit at the end of the year.
There really are so many factors involving being a Professional Gambler and it would take me days just to explain every single fact, so I will only give you the major thing Poker Players actually look for and that are suckers. You all remember the show Tilt correct? Now that involved cheating but it also proved a great point. All the big boys with the big stacks sat at the same table and suckered in other players. Now normally you wouldn’t cheat in a Casino, but this is what Professional Poker Players look for, they look for the people that are going to lose money more times than win. Normally you could tell by the style of their play.
Poker is a great game to learn, and if you could master it well enough where you could win more times than lose, than maybe it’s the right profession for you. But remember this… Anytime someone tells you they win every single time is false. No one wins every time. The only thing you’re trying to do is win enough times to profit at the end of the year. You will have losing sessions, and that’s perfectly normal, just make sure they are winning sessions more than losing sessions.
I can't take credit for it, but purchased this article recently and figured I'd share it here. Comments (not about the article but the subject!) and discussion welcome.
A pretty good read...I think it takes more than just playing a lot to be a pro player. The people we see on TV are really good at what they do and spend a lot of time practicing against weaker opponents. Plus you always hear that they have to spend around 500 grand or more just on buy-ins...so sometimes when they win one tournement thats worth 300k it may seem like a lot but it isn't.
I think in general people think they can do what Hellmuth and others do easily...when in fact being a pro poker player is a very stressful and hard life to succeed in.
I guess that in order to go up, you've got to take risks and when those risks make up a reasonable percentage of your life savings then I guess it's make or break time.
It would be all too easy to back out and say, I've made this much and I'm happy with it, but others have the desire and bottle to continue.
I'm far too conservative to ever do it even moderately seriously let along as a profession - I would make a few grand and say right that's my lot. I'd never make a big tournament!
I don't consider myself to be that good, above the fish that are littered around the lower limit tables, but nothing compared to some of the guys I see play. They just seem to have a sixth sense that comes with experience, and I hope one day I too can share a little of that gut instinct that most good players have.
I'd just be worried about where my next meal ticket is coming from. Perhaps if I had the money behind me I'd give it a shot, but as for these people that risk their bank balance on a weekly basis, they can keep their job!
Hehe yeah, I wouldn't mind staking the money if I had it available but to live off a risky game such as poker would be a little more than my nerves could stand.
I know some people have gotten very big and very rich playing the game, and theres no reason many of us can't make a little extra on the side. Earning enough to live off is an entirely different story though, and isn't something I'd recommend for anyone without a serious amount of money to start with.
I would suggest for the newer players that want to work on their poker management to keep a daily track of stats/winnings/losings, etc. etc. in excel or access, or anything else that is easy to refer too... You dont have to go all that indepth but keeping track of management definately helps me sleep at night after i go on a bad run...
Good article, and great points raised by the prior posters.
Here's my 2 cents.
While I wasn't a Poker "pro", I did spend about 6 years grinding it out in limit game as a "hobby."
I was playing 4-5 nights a week at my local poker room.
On a good year, I made $23k. On a bad year, I "made" about $8k. This wasn't too shabby considering I played low limits with a 3 bet cap.
When I ran the numbers, I realized that in a good year, I was making about $9.50 an HOUR. On my BAD years, I was making a lot less.
After a while, I started to view my "hobby" as of a "job". It was about that time I quit playing for a while. I realized I could get a 2nd job with less stress, more time off, and make more money in the long run.
When I decided to supplement my income with poker, I was given some great advice early on by a mentor. I'll pass them on to you all.
First, you never gamble with what you can't afford to lose. If you have ANY attachment to the money, you'll "feel" it when you hit a run of cold cards (and it happens to ALL of us).
Next, set a reasonable "magic number" for wins and losses. If you hit your "magic number," you shut it down, whether you're up or down. If you've managed to hit it on the first hand, then congrats, you have more time to go enjoy your winnings. If you lose your arse equally fast, it's obviously not your night, and you need to get out before you dig the hole deeper.
Next: keep track of your wins and losses and never lose track of the "big" picture. Too often I see people who get upset when they lose on a particular night of poker. As noted above: No one wins all the time. The key is to play solid and grind it out. Your skill will even things out over the long haul.
Next: leave your poker at the table. This includes your wins and losses. Never get to high or to low. You'll win when you aren't supposed to and you'll probably lose more than you think you should. But that's just poker. Patience and discipline are the key to a healthy conscience. Be confident in your decisions. Learn from your mistakes. It's not a sprint. It's a marathon. Pace yourself.
Last: have fun. You should be playing poker because you ENJOY playing poker. If the fun is out of it, then it's more like a job. Trust me, you can find jobs which will pay you as much (or more) and cause you less stress.
I follow these rules to this day, and I can't really complain about anything related to my game.