Did you know that the best poker players in the world make millions of dollars a year by playing cards? You’ve probably seen players holding huge trophies on ESPN after winning a tournament in WSOP, but what does it actually require to make it as a professional player? In this article we have laid out the basic requirements of becoming a poker pro.
Playing poker is a profession for many people around the world, but officially a poker player is not a professional title. You can of course write it up in your CV, but you’re basically an investor who’s just using his time and money to make profit from poker. A poker professional is generally considered to be a person who makes their living by playing poker games online or by playing live poker in card rooms & casinos. Let’s jump into the requirements:
Playing cards for a living requires training & studying the game
There is no vocational training available anywhere for those who want a career as a poker professional. Players themselves acquire their gaming skills from poker books, internet forums, poker training sites and various poker coaches.
For a professional player, constant specific study of poker games is vital. The subject usually contains mathematical and economic theory of how you can take advantage of mistakes made by your opponents. However, it is equally important to find errors and leaks in your own game, as each error directly affects your own income in the long-run. Improving your game is fastest if you take advice from successful players and tips from poker communities like BeastsOfPoker.
The higher the stakes in poker, the smaller the skill differences between the players are. Due to the ever-intensifying competition and use of specialized software especially in online games, the game is rapidly evolving from what was considered a game of luck into a game of skill.
Small initial investment can get you to the top
Starting a poker career requires a capital investment, which is grown over time by playing successfully. This capital that you use for playing is called a bankroll. Some poker professionals who make millions per year have started with an initial investment of less than hundred dollars. Your potential winnings increase proportionally to the size of your bankroll. In the beginning of your poker career it’s hard to reach even a minimum wage of a normal employee, since you’re just learning the basics of poker and playing small stakes.
The bankroll is your most important tool as a poker professional. Without taking extra care of your risk and money managed, your career in poker will be short-lived. Running out of money is a disaster for a professional player, as it means you either have to get a stake (which reduces your potential winnings) or apply for a job that pays significantly less than playing poker in a good game would.
After all, poker is like self-employment: You have to work hard to turn a profit. The time you spend studying will pay dividends, and there are no paid holidays. You’re the only person responsible of your results, which brings us to the last requirement:
You need take responsibility for your own future in poker
There is no pension available for those who are playing poker for a living. Therefore it’s recommended that poker pros build a safety net for themselves, a nest egg that will secure them financially after their poker career. In practice you can invest some of your poker winnings into mutual funds, stocks or properties or other investment vehicles with good long-term returns. There is one big advantage though for poker professionals, at least in most countries: Your poker winnings are totally tax free, so all the profit you make is yours to keep.
The profession of playing poker can be detrimental to operating like a normal person society in some cases. For example, obtaining mortgages without any regular income from a job is way more difficult than it would be if you were just working in a normal day job. A poker professional will also be left with a gap in their job history, which may make it harder to find a post-career job. Luckily with their sharp risk management and analytical skills, some former poker pros have turned into entrepreneurs. Make sure you plan your exit from poker unless you plan to play cards as long as you live!