Becoming a professional poker player is difficult. Not only do you have to be good at the game you have to be good at managing yourself. To that end, you have to learn to treat Poker as a business, rather than a pastime.
If you are thinking about becoming a pro, you’ll need to treat it as a profession & prepare yourself fully. You will probably have to do further training in the form of coaching or reading appropriate books.
The Business Element
Like most businesses, there will be good times and bad times. You must be prepared for the latter and use the former to offset your losses. Professional poker playing requires the necessary capital like any other business, and for poker, this means having a substantial bankroll.
To that end, you must try and work out how much you will need to absorb losing streaks, to accommodate a steady personal cash-flow to yourself, from playing poker. This is a highly competitive profession if ever there was one.
Every player has losing streaks, or drawdowns, no matter how good they are. You must be able to deal with this financially and psychologically.
You are going to be self-employed. This is a scary thought because you have to win, and win often in order to produce a steady income.
To become a pro and a better pro, you have to be able to candidly assess your playing performance after every hand. This needs to be done objectively, professionally, and honestly. It is advisable to obtain the services of a good player to critically judge your playing performance, with a fresh, unbiased pair of eyes that will be able to tell you if you are leaking too many tells if your bluff was too obvious, and generally pick up on any shortcomings you may have. From a psychological perspective, you must be able to take criticism and be honest with yourself accept when you were wrong and played badly. All of this will be enhanced your ability as a player.
As a professional poker player, you need to continuously seek to improve your technique and abilities. Failure to do this will ultimately result in your overall failure and you returning to your previous ‘day job’.
Many players record their plays in the form of notes. How much they staked, how much they won, almost every statistic you are able to think of. They then may collect these in a database for further correlation analysis, the results of which can be used to optimize their performance.
Why is this necessary when you never did this as an Amateur?
Many professionals started out as good amateur players and came to the realization that playing a game they loved professionally, for a living, would be a wonderful lifestyle. Possibly you did this yourself? On the surface the excitement of the lifestyle that is very appealing. A little like being a spy perhaps. In reality, however, this is a business and a job. In ten years time will you enjoy the game as much?
Once you embark on being a pro your social life will be centered around poker. Poker will predominate: Your friends will be poker players, your spouse may even be from a poker background, and even your pets will be able to shuffle cards. You will study poker when you are not playing it, and your maths will improve.
You need to consider this before you become a professional. Are you prepared for the change ? and sacrifice?
Odds & Statistics
If you have not worked it out already, you are going to have look at poker as a business and consider the probabilistic nature of the game and your hands. This requires you working out percentages to the nth degree and being able to do this in tournaments. You will start to think of the game statistically and indeed start to study your own game in the same terms. This is common to successful playing.
A career in poker is hard. It may be a roller-coaster journey – from extreme highs to extreme lows. There will be hours when you wonder why you thought it was a good idea.
With a clear mind, some ability, a willingness to learn and be objective and probably the services of a good coach or mentor – you can make a success of this wonderful game.