Best Ways to Become a Professional Poker Player

professional poker player image
Poker Professional. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Professional poker players generally earn a lot of money and are on top of their game, although not everyone makes the cut.

Becoming a professional poker player requires a lot of tenacity, dedication, and time.  However, out of a considerable number of players who try to attain this accolade, only a selected few make it to the top of the list and even fewer end up retiring comfortably.  However, with sufficient time and resources, you could become one of these poker pros. 

So, what are the requirements?

The Rewards and the Challenges

The career of a professional poker player might sound glamorous, but it is not for the fainthearted.  You are bound to encounter inevitable downtimes and numerous consecutive losses, which could be hard on your wallet and self-esteem.  The hours are long, and the days gruelling.

But, the dangling carrot you see is real, and the lucky few pull in a decent income.  Regular players could make a go of it, either through the daily grind at cash tables or by winning tournaments consistently.

The Effects on Lifestyle and Family

Managing your finances can be challenging.  Professional poker players don’t get paid regularly.  Instead, they earn money daily or weekly.  Sometimes a solid payoff takes months or years to materialise.  Variance can win out over the best players, so be prepared to lose money and remember that the game usually progresses in streaks.

A long winning streak may wind up in an even longer dry spell.  But, if you’re persistent, you will be OK.  Keep in mind that you could turn semi-pro and earn a part-time income while retaining your day job, although this would still require up to six hours a day of your time.

Define Your Bankroll

Bankroll management works like this:

If you have CA$6,000, you’d realistically play a cash game that has a buy-in of around CA$200 and blinds of CA$1 or CA$2, meaning you’d have about 30 buy-ins for the bankroll.  The upper limit that you could buy would be approximately CA$60 per tournament.

Subsequently, you’d have to calculate the amount of money you would spend on everyday living and factor that in.  For example, if you aim to earn CA$2,000 a month as a poker-playing pro, reserve about six months’ of income, or CA$12,000, plus CA$6,000 to get started, which equates to CA$18,000.

Adding Up Target Winnings

Your goal might be to earn enough to cover your living expenses, or you may wish to shoot for higher stakes and take a shot at getting wealthy.  Most pros use an equation that calculates the average of big blinds won in relation to a hundred hands or BB/100.

By employing this math statistic, a pro could earn CA$600 monthly for 30 BB/100 hands (2 NL) or, on the higher end, CA$6,000 monthly for 3BB/100 hands (200 NL).  Once you figure out your average win rate, you can deduct your income.  Just remember that you must determine your win rate with a decent-sized sample to ensure that it’s accurate.

Heads-Up Display

Most online poker pros use a heads-up display (HUD), which records player stats and stores them on a database.  With many clients, the system displays the opponent’s stats on the online tables, such as VPIP, PFR, and 3B per cent.  HUD is handy when you’re playing multiple tables.

When combined with hand-history reviews, pros can learn a lot about their poker-playing skills, as well as that of their opponents.  These tools significantly improve the strategy with the help of sheer numbers.  The rest, of course, falls on the player and their ability to think strategically at that very moment. 

The element that negatively affects results is variance.  Consider that most things are out of your control and the only factor you could indeed regulate is your second-to-second decision making. 

In the end, conceptualising your strategy and keeping the mindset of a pro are the keys to your success.  You will be required to collect the knowledge and necessary tools to become a professional poker player that maintains a full-time income.  But, with sufficient available energy and focus, turning pro may well be within your reach.