Best Five (5) Tips For Becoming a Professional Poker Player

It takes skill, dedication and the ability to completely separate yourself from your emotions.

Poker seems like a dream job to many people, but it is very hard work. It takes skill, dedication and the ability to completely separate yourself from your emotions. Many have tried to earn a living with poker, and very few have been able to stick with it year after year. But it can be done. There will be some trial and error for your own personality type, but here are some tips that will help guide you along the right path to a poker career.

1. Win!
Most poker players think they are good, but in reality only 5-10% actually win over the long run. And even a good player can lose overall due to making emotion-based, instead of logical decisions. Before you quit you day job, make sure that you are winning enough money to live on consistently. Not for weeks, but months. A year or two, if possible. You should definitely be well ahead if you have played hundreds of thousands of hands. Also, winning enough to survive is not nearly enough. You have to win much more to compensate for the inevitable downswings, which sometimes last months. Or unexpected expenses. I just had to pay nearly $15,000 due to travel and cleanup from Hurricane Irma and my mom passing away. Things come up and you have better be ready because if you devote your entire bankroll to paying those unforeseen costs, you will have nothing left to earn a living. Most importantly, don't think that one big score is all you need, because it will roll you to play in the bigger games. Those big games are much harder and can eat up a bankroll fast. Slow and steady is the way to play.

2. Take a Test Drive
It is true that you cannot really gauge what it would be like to be a pro player when you work a day job. One upside in leaving your job is that you can get more sleep and play when you are rested and ready. It is a pain to work 8 hours then come home and grind for 8 more, knowing you have to wake up early and get back to work. And you cannot play your best game when you are exhausted or stressed out about work. But sometimes, when you don't have a boss setting your schedule, it is a big adjustment. You have to force yourself to get up and get to work, just like with any other job. And sometimes, finding that motivation isn't easy with so many distractions around. Or maybe you will play for too long, since you no longer have to set an alarm, and play past when you can maintain the optimal amount of focus and start making bad decisions. If you are able, try taking a week off from your job to just play poker. Get to know your own habits and what works best for your unique mindset before diving into a poker career.

3. Don't Expect to Get Rich
You often hear about all the millionaires that were made from online poker in the first decade of this century. That rarely happens nowadays. Back then, poker was booming and new players were joining the ranks every day. And these new players didn't have access to the wealth of information that is currently available. Almost everyone is decent now. Your job, as a professional, will be to find the players that aren't or the weaknesses the decent players have, and exploit them. This takes much longer now than 10 years ago, when you could sit and pick off bluffs that made no sense all day and earn a fortune. It is very difficult to safely move up stakes now. Depending on what type of game you are playing, you want to have at least 50-200 buy-ins to play a certain level. And remember, if you start losing some of that, you have to move back down. Are you prepared to move down a couple levels and still grind out a living? Poker is a fun lifestyle, but it is much easier to have a steady income coming in and know that there aren't going to be months at a time where you work hard and lose money.

4. Treat it Like a Business
You have likely seen me on my stream, chilling back on the couch with a full arsenal of beer at my side. That is a character. I take poker ridiculously seriously and if you don't, you have no business trying to do it as a career. If you haven't watched the epic TV series about online grinders, "Two Months, 2 Million," check it out on YouTube. It is excellent. If you have watched it, you likely heard the players giving each other a hard time for reclining in their chairs while grinding. It is hard to stay focused when you are kicking back. Sit up straight. Don't watch TV. Watch what other players do when you aren't in the hand. And don't drink or use drugs before or while you play. They affect your decisions. A little weed should be fine.

5. Study, Study, Study
A lot of players biggest pitfall is they think they know it all. The best players know there is always something to learn. We live in a digital age where there is so much access to new information about the game. There are hundreds of books, training sites and videos, and coaches out there who can take your game to the next level. Review your hands by yourself and with friends. Think you took a bad beat? Review it the next day with a clear. Maybe there was a way you didn't have to lose quite so much. A new batch of players is discovering poker every day and if you aren't keeping up, you are getting left behind.

50 Thank You Freeroll
Do you have any suggestions to add? I am giving out some 50 Guaranteed Thank You freeroll tickets to people who comment below. Entries must be received by Thursday at 9AM EST to qualify.
Good luck!

 Filed under: Poker, Poker Professional, Tipsy Tips, Tipsy Talk


ElenaMorado: Good Points!
Tue, 10/03/2017 - 15:20

It is known that no one can win so many tournaments and that you always learn something new!

simvait: One of the most underrated
Tue, 10/03/2017 - 15:40

One of the most underrated and yet the most important aspects of being a successful full-time player is a routine. I am not referring to playing routine, but more like real-life routine and balancing it with a time that you dedicate to poker. While it is essential to spend the larger portion of your time playing, studying or otherwise interacting with poker related things (this could be poker buddies, watching poker videos, hand analysis, podcasts or simply thinking about it.), it's none the less important to spend some time off the tables and not worrying about poker at all, just to clear your mind and preserve your own sanity.

It's very stressful when you hit a losing streak and even more so when you have a mouth or two to feed, but I can assure that most of the time you just won't be able to grind it through, regardless of popular belief - and the best option is just to step back for a longer period of time and cool down.

BigThangz: i would advise
Tue, 10/03/2017 - 16:44

If your gonna player poker for a living ( I mean sole income) I would advise have enough bank roll where u can pay 1-2 yrs of living expenses, 1-2 yrs of another living expenses saved up to fall back on when u fail in 1-2 yrs and realize u not good at poker or just get plain bored of i. then obv big enough poker bank roll to last 1-2 yrs. Most people thinking they can take a mid size bank roll and grind enough to cover living expenses each month end up failing.

winawyna: Consistency I think..I don't
Tue, 10/03/2017 - 16:45

Consistency I think..I don't see how winning one in 100 tournaments can qualify as a professional poker player..there's got to be a certain level of consistent wins say 1 in 20 at the minimum

spaced: if you win 1 in 20 tournaments
Tue, 10/03/2017 - 20:35

you are the luckiest fucker in the kingdom of god

johnmuts: Win!
Tue, 10/03/2017 - 19:01

Especially like the first point. Good thinking!

abdou: Beautiful words
Tue, 10/03/2017 - 19:32

I play just for fun are not to work, livelihood comes from God

FistOfGod: My sympathies to you and you're family
Tue, 10/03/2017 - 19:55

All points made are very informative. Mindset has to be a very important part of the equation in all aspects mentioned. Emotion cannot play a part or be given any quarter in your mind. If emotion becomes involved it can and will be costly in the long run.

marktwaine: patience, study, play, again
Tue, 10/03/2017 - 20:43

patience, study, play, again study, top mindset - its key to succes ..for study i use PT4 for hand review. i really like point 4. i recommend book - Treat Your Poker Like a Business from Dusty Schmidt aka Leatherass - it was really motivating for me. we can discuss this topic for many years and still learn something new.

Mentat: main thing that's important
Tue, 10/03/2017 - 23:36

main thing that's important for going pro is being strong at combinatorics, calculus, trigonometry. It's actually surprising to find out that books written over ten years ago are centered on these basic principles as a foundation to understand how the game actually works. Take this hand for example:

preflop your hand value, average, is 14.46, and this is then adjusted when people fold, and combinatorics are updated as well, but it's actually marginal, the increase goes to 14.48, 14.90, 14.92

Hero is in the Btn with A7, dd, raises to 24, sb calls

here your hand value is 21. Therefore, you have a +7 against an average range, plus positional advantage! you now have the choice to open it,, OR.....................shock, wait a minute.......deep breathe --- +FOLD and (see what happens).....

anyways we open and the flop drops out --

flop = 6s 8c 9d

now suits are actually quite interesting and really challenging to figure out. unfortunately i lost those notes. lol .... yeah man

BUT, I did do a little work on flop textures and HERE IS SOME REALLLLLY COOL STUFF --

on a flop of 2 4 9 there is a +2, two times, followed by a +5 gap between the 9 and the ace.

((((((you can experiment with these kinds of things right here and run it through your sims a couple times if it suits you well))))) you can do things like, subtract a 5 from an average flop value of

average flop values is (27_28_24) when you see some hands like (k 95) (at 4) (q 84) yeahhh this stuff sucks hard man

~next card average value on a naked flop, with card removal, on k74 is 7.32528571 according to a calculator it's 7.230769230769231 and this is actually a stronger decimal pattern than what one would normally expect.

turn = qd
river = kc

you can also construct

anyways that's all i have for now sorry

simvait: Simpler version
Tue, 10/03/2017 - 23:57

Poker_solved = ["banana", "orange", "apple"]

stock = {
"banana": 6,
"apple": 0,
"orange": 32,
"pear": 15

prices = {
"banana": 4,
"apple": 2,
"orange": 1.5,
"pear": 3

# Write your code below!
def compute_bill(food):
total = 0
for item in food:
if stock[item] > 0:
total = total + prices[item]
stock[item] = stock[item] - 1
return total
print total

MithrandirNY: That looks like python. The
Wed, 10/04/2017 - 00:25

That looks like python. The print line won't run because there's a return line before it.
compute_bill was never called.

You're better doing:
total += prices[item]

Mentat: that looks like tiny asian
Wed, 10/04/2017 - 15:26

that looks like tiny asian shit and i don't do tiny asian shit

MithrandirNY: My Awesome Appendment
Wed, 10/04/2017 - 00:19

My Awesome Appendment

Always play within your bankroll limits, and have a POKER bankroll that is completely separate from your LIFE bankroll. Think of your poker bankroll as the treasury for your poker business; you don't take out money from it unless if you earned it. Jennifear's bankroll management guide is a good example of a bankroll management and cash-out strategy.

On the vein of reviewing your own play, use different software to determine what games you do well in. Things like Sharkscope if you're a tournament player, or PokerTracker/Hold'em Manager if you're a cash game player (Though the latter can work for tournaments too). These will allow you to not only wee where you're leaking money but will also show you your strengths, and once you find out what those strengths are, you can practice game selection. For instances, If you find yourself winning often in 6-handed cash games but losing in 9-handed formats, then obviously, avoid the 9-handed games or play lower stake 9-handed games to improve your 9-handed play while risking less. Compare your results based on Stake, Table size (9-handed vs 6-handed), Format(Turbo, Super Turbo, Megastack, rebuys, etc) and play towards those strengths. But keep in mind, you'll need a pretty large sample size to get an accurate picture of your abilities (At LEAST around 10k hands for cash games, 1000+ MTTs[because of their high variance], and 100s of SnGs).

At the end of the day, if you're goal is to make money then play those games that you've made money in. If you're looking to improve or practice then play lower stakes in your weaker games.

And the last bit of advice, which I fail to follow myself (writing this while in 3 tournaments and a cash game). When playing, don't be distracted. Meaning no TV, no reading articles on why shark week is the most important holiday, no calculating the flight speed of an unladen swallow, NO MULTI-TASKING. Pay attention to your games. If you're not in a hand, then follow the action of the other players and try to guess what range of hands they might have. Pay attention to who is/isn't taking into consideration position, who is stealing blinds every button, who's semi-bluffing over-pair draws. It might seem a little weird, but try to verbalize your own actions/decisions (Talk aloud to yourself, or if this makes you self-conscious, stream your game and talk at your viewers) and WHY you're taking the course of action that you're taking. This will keep you cognizant and prevent you from going on auto-pilot.

Also HUDs are cool if you can get one, otherwise keep dated notes on players (Dated because people's play styles can/will change over time).

Mentat: yeah i never realized how
Wed, 10/04/2017 - 15:22

yeah i never realized how many errors I made in my poker days until I stepped away from the game and realized how awful I was and what I had to change in order to win, even against the modern players that have coaching available from people like Doug Polk and Joel Ingram.

Unfortunately, once you make adjustments, the players will adapt ahead of you and it renders it practically impossible as a linear process. You can experiment with this and might find it quite interesting.

If you eliminate money from the equation, you can certainly enjoy this as a rich and complex pursuit... at least in my opinion, by paying attention to minute details.. as Mith stated above, and with money, maybe add a little "ah" or "oh" to the equation, if that is your cup of tea.

There are actually some really interesting points that can develop from this with reverse computing and adaptive intelligence, it's almost akin to finding [not finding) invisible points. lol... wooooo

Again, the key here, is, against a superior oppoent, there is no. point to find, in my opinion. You can step outside of yourself and observe the process. Why am I trying to find this point. Why am I feeling this particular way. Why does this process have to occur in order for me to feel content? What other processes are there? Perhaps that is what we are seeking.

trekmasterx: Have fun
Wed, 10/04/2017 - 05:44

The best advice to succeed in any job is make sure you enjoy the work your doing. If you don't like what your doing and it becomes laborious you will never come out on the winning side.

CrabbyPantz: I enjoy the articles you
Wed, 10/04/2017 - 06:09

I enjoy the articles you write booze. I took one thing away or one thing that I feel is key to separating the men from the boys.

I won't type it here though since I don't want to let the cat out of the bag

God bless all of you ... or most of you :)

ItsBelth: Find people to talk poker
Wed, 10/04/2017 - 06:15

Find people to talk poker with. Studying is great, but if you can incorporate others into your studying, seeing how others think while being open to criticism on your hands and being able to see how other hands have played out and what you think was correct vs what others did etc, it helps a ton. Being a lone wolf is great and all, but having others around with the same mindset who will look at numbers as well and strategy and having people to bounce ideas off of will help you a lot in poker.

jcmillionman: Non stop...
Wed, 10/04/2017 - 15:25

Non stop playing no matter how much you lose. As crazy as that may seem & in my case even as much as I complain...I still never GIVE UP! Read all the books you like, the experience will better your game. Cheers All !!!

Chris9999: Be Committed
Wed, 10/04/2017 - 19:19

I TOTALLY AGREE WITH BOOZE YOU HAVE TO HAVE CONTROLLED EMOTIONS WHEN THINGS GET BAD AND IF YOU cant control that mental state then it will be hard to make a living from it. Believe me I learned the hard way. Thanks for your insight booze

1PEPPER1: Great points as always
Wed, 10/04/2017 - 22:26

I think setting goals, such as putting a bankroll away saving bit by bit to support yourself for a year and then taking the plunge. Joining study groups online with professionals or semi pros and trainers such as they have at Stars is a real benefit, I watch big money games and the stratagies applied by the players alot. I find alot of learning in watching final tables espcially, the push and shove and using of stack sizes.

Girlscout: :-\
Wed, 10/04/2017 - 23:06

not sure if this would be under the study study study category but watch watch watch live tables on t.v. or random tables online BE A RAILBIRD pay attention

tru0025: Hello
Wed, 10/04/2017 - 23:23

I think the most important part that you cover but in different words but you cant stress more about learning BANKROLL management that would be main goal to learn and how to take losses and not go broke.

isnortbooze: Tickets awarded
Thu, 10/05/2017 - 14:04

Congrats and good luck!

ssesse: Hi
Thu, 10/05/2017 - 18:19

I would like to suggest to add knowing your strenght, skill level. I believe if one knows his/her skill level in poker he/she can create a plan to win or in some situations loose less. For example if you feel that you are the best player in your table in a tournament you can play more aggressive etc. however, some times you will get matched with better players like other proffesional poker players etc. in those times you might just play different like tighter etc.
I believe objectively knowing your skill level helps a lot

BigRyan421: dicipline is a key u need to
Fri, 10/06/2017 - 21:13

dicipline is a key u need to learn proper bankroll management, patience because most tournaments will last 5+ hours, and variance is key u cant win everything u play u have to understand that.

TrillMyWatch: iSnort...
Tue, 10/10/2017 - 09:47

Thought you said you would send some Love this way? Any crumbs will do.

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