Wouldn’t it be nice if you could quit your boring nine-to-five job and become a professional poker player? That would be way better than playing online for only a couple of bucks. Just imagine going pro, hitting Las Vegas, and trying your luck in the World Series of Poker.
And although some make it to the top level, that’s not an easy task. You’ll need to put in a lot of effort, but the rewards can really justify the hard work. It’s a long way before you’re ready to take on Phil Hellmuth and Phil Ivey. Here are some steps that can help you make a living out of playing poker.
Know Your Game
First thing first. If you want to become a professional poker player, you’ll need to be familiar with the games you’re playing. There are many poker variants, which means you have to understand all the aspects of the game.
For Texas Hold’Em players, it’s important to learn about table selection and bankroll management. If you prefer live tournaments, you’ll have to make the most out of your trips, including finding the best hotel packages.
Want to try your luck online? Then you have to find the best online poker sites.
Also, keep in mind that not all professionals make seven or eight-figure sums a year. Many low-level players just make a living. You can earn more money through social media and sponsor deals.
You can’t be a professional player without a firm grasp of the rules. Otherwise, you won’t get far, and you’ll end up without any money.
Texas Hold’Em is the most popular poker variant and also the most common one. It’s easy to learn, but with so many players, you’ll face pretty stiff competition. You can gain the necessary experience against low-level players without losing money.
Online poker sites offer various poker variants, like Razz and Badugi, which attract more experienced players. Starting with a lesser-known version is an excellent way to improve your knowledge.
No matter which version you pick, there are some key concepts you’ll need to know, such as Drawing Hands, Ranges, Pot Odds, Independent Chip Modeling, and Expected Value.
Understanding Game Theory Optimal is essential if you want to become a poker professional since other players will also try to make the most out of this complex poker strategy.
Practice Makes It Perfect
It all comes down to practice. Online players gain vast experience just through the sheer number of hours spent improving their skills.
You can up your game by playing more than one table at a time. Kick off with two or three tables, and if (or when) you feel comfortable, increase that number. You have to up your volume at a certain point, or you’ll just be making minimum wage. However, be careful as fees can quickly eat up your earnings.
Practicing at lower stakes can be helpful, especially with long game sessions.
Choose Your Hands
Be careful when choosing your hands, and make sure to select the winning ones. Poker is all about stacking the odds in your favor, so it’s crucial to make the proper selection of your hands.
In Texas Hold’Em, an aggressive strategy combined with playing winning hands can pay off. Don’t call with marginal hands unless you’re in late position, and even then, be sure to keep an eye on your opponents.
Tournament players use a Push Fold chart to see which hand you should use, based on your stack size or position.
Let’s face it, you don’t always get a good hand. But your opponents don’t know that, and by using bluff, you can work your way around the quality of your hand.
Bluffing can be very useful when playing tournaments, cash games, or Sit ‘n Gos. Knowing how and when to apply this tool may help you maximize your profits.
Being a pro means you’ll be able to make the most out of any situation. Use bluff to build up an image at the table and take advantage of weaker rivals. Targeting players prone to bluff is an approach that can pay off.
Look After Yourself
If you’re aiming to become a professional poker player, looking after yourself will be as equally important as understanding the game.
Remember, going pro means poker will be your full-time job. Sometimes you’ll spend hours in front of a computer monitor or play up to twelve hours a day for a couple of days in a row if you choose to travel to a tournament.
Preserving your physical and mental health. Try to exercise as often as you can, and watch out what you eat. You need to stay fit and sharp at the tables. Downswings happen, and you’ll need all the mental health to handle these situations. Losing is part of the game, and if you don’t accept that, your professional career won’t last long.
Managing your bankroll in a sensible way is an essential part of becoming a professional poker player.
Your bankroll should be big enough to handle the buy-ins and help you if you go on a losing streak. Tournament players often use online satellites, as they are an excellent way to earn a tournament entry for a small price.
If you play cash games, make sure you have enough funds for rebuys.
Most importantly, put aside tax money. Professional poker players pay income tax on their winnings, so you’ll need to keep track of your wins (and losses).
Choosing the Right Games
Choosing a suitable poker variant is also crucial. The most popular one is Texas Hold’Em, available both online and offline.
Be sure to set goals before you start playing. If you lack patience, it’s advisable to avoid tournaments and just focus on cash games. However, cash games require discipline and a nice bankroll.
Tournaments can be an intelligent choice, as they offer guaranteed prize pools. You can even combine tournament strategy with shorter games to become a Sit ‘n Go pro.
The goal of every professional poker player is to have a shot at a major event such as the World Series of Poker. That won’t be easy, but understanding how satellites functions, and proper planning, can help you target side games in Las Vegas.
Once you go pro, get ready for long hours of playing and chasing win rates. But before you do that, be sure to find a suitable one.
A Win rate represents the average number of big blinds you hit for every 100 hands. For example, winning ten big blinds per 100 hands is a good result, but you should always raise the bar.
Tournament players should pay special attention to the Return on Investment (ROI). This number represents the percentage you’ll be earning, minus the tournament buy-ins.
Let’s say you won half a million during a year and spend $20,000 on buy-ins. Here’s how to calculate your ROI:
Winnings minus buy-ins / buy-ins x 100, or in this case ($500,000-$20,000) / ($20,000 x 100) = 0.24, or 24%
A good tournament player will an ROI ranging between 15% and 20%, but the higher is better.
There’s software you can use to keep track of your ROI. Texas Hold’Em players usually opt for Hold’Em manager, while those Sit ‘n Gos prefer Sharkscope.
In addition to learning the rules and choosing the correct version of the game, going pro also means playing responsibly.
Poker may be a game of skill, but a lot of gambling is involved, meaning it can be highly addictive. This can cause massive problems, especially when chasing losses.
Professional poker players also enjoy other forms of gambling. That’s not necessarily a problem, but it’s essential not to use your poker bankroll for other activities. Hiring a financial advisor is also a good decision. That way, you’ll get professional help on managing your bankroll and investing your funds.
Did you know you could ask other players for a buy-in? There are many such offers available, and in return for a stake, you’ll give a portion of your winnings. That’s an excellent investment from a financial point of view, as it comes with no risk but still allows to keep a slice of the prize money.
As we’ve already mentioned, you need to stay alert when playing, which means you should leave your emotions at the door.
Odds can always turn against you, even if you do everything right. Lady Luck won’t always smile on you, and you need to accept that it’s all part of the game.
Keep in mind that playing smart will surely help you win money. This way, you’ll avoid negative emotions. Don’t let feelings and frustrations keep you company when you sit down and play.
Knowing When to Quit
Turning pro doesn’t mean you’ll become World Series champion. Many famous names quit because they were bored or due to the lack of funds.
In most cases, the latter is the reason why players quit. If you spend 16+ playing and barely make minimum wage, then you should consider changing your career.
There are ways to make money from poker by playing for free. Many sites offer freerolls every week. You use them to earn some money and boost your confidence.
Now you know how to get started. The journey you’re about to take will be challenging, but with constant learning and the right mindset, and proper bankroll management, you’ll be able to clear obstacles. You can even start your journey online without ever leaving your home. There are many options available, all you need to do is to make the right decision.