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.
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.
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