How to Become a Professional Poker Player and Avoid Rookie Mistakes
We won’t beat around the bush – becoming a professional poker player in today’s highly competitive rivalry is not an easy task at all. During their careers, many good players had their share of ups and downs. However, players like Antonio Esfandiari, Daniel Negreanu, David Peters, Bryn Kenney, or Vanessa Selbst surely didn’t regret their decision to learn from their mistakes, pursue, study, and develop further. Poker asks not only for your time spent around the table, but also for your dedication and effort (and make sure to put the exclamation mark here).
To help you save yourself from years of wasted time and money, Best Odds Slots teammade quick guide on how to pursue a professional poker player’s career.
Tips to Become a Professional Poker Player
We love playing poker, and everyone in our team started it very early as a Friday fun with friends or family. Throughout the years, the love for the game still lingered on. That’s when we finally took it seriously.
In the beginning, we played every poker game we could encounter, from Texas Hold’em, Omaha, to Seven and Five Card Stud, High / Low Chicago, and Follow the Queen. We tried everything – cash games, Sit and Go, and Multi-Table Tournaments. And, yes, most of us were also guilty of not studying the game thoroughly. We knew some basic rules and enjoyed its ‘luck’ component excessively. Only to realize we could do much, much more. And that’s how we got to our first tip:
Tip No 1: Choose One Poker Game (and Format) and Stick to It
One of the biggest roadblocks to develop and improve as a player is to divide your time and energy into learning mutual games. Jumping from one topic to another will not lead you where you wanted, but most likely you will end up never actually learning any of them.
Do research, try a couple of options, and look at what game fits your personality most. But once you decide, make sure to stick to it!
This means you can choose to play SNGs or MTTs, or standard cash games with friends, but as long as you choose only one game format, you are already half-way there. And many professional players will approach this ‘tournaments vs. cash games’ issue by putting the opponent into the calculation. We love to mention the tactic one of the biggest poker players currently – Antonio Esfandiari – uses: “In a tournament, even if you are playing against bad players, you still need to run above expectation to make real money. In a cash game, you can keep grinding away at those weak players.”
However, when deciding upon what format to choose, the best thing to follow doesn’t have to be the potential income you can get out of it, but what suits YOU the most:
- MTT tournaments are mostly for those players who can afford hours in front of the computer without taking a break.
- On the other hand, Sit&Go (SNG) tournaments are for those who love a simpler straightforward game to play in shorter periods of time (30-60 minutes).
- While standard poker tournaments are for dynamic people who like changing the environments and are comfortable with one day visiting casinos in Las Vegas, and another day finding themselves exploring the venues of Monaco.
- In the end, cash games are for people who need a flexible self-managed time schedule.
And when it comes to poker games, they come in many variations, like, the most common, Texas Hold’em, Omaha, Seven Card Stud, Five Card Stud, and many, many more. However, they are made from three main types – card, stud, and community poker. Although Texas Hold’em is by far the most popular, you can pick whatever suits you the most.
Devoting yourself to one option will help you gather all the experience you need much faster. And once you make a decision and start investing yourself in it, you will surely very soon be able to reap the fruits.
Tip No. 2: Players That Study Make More Money In the Long Run
As you can see on our blog, in our team, we are the advocates of learning practices. And it definitely paid off for all of us. We understand how grueling it can be to start a detailed learning session after a long day of work, but something that can truly motivate you is the knowledge that many now-famous players dedicated very long hours to the professional development of this kind. Remember a quote by Margaret Fuller: “Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.”
So what can you do for yourself starting today?
First and foremost, find a personal poker coach. Instead of only focusing on finding all the material there is on the internet like blog posts, Twitch, or YouTube streamers, subscribe to a personal poker training course with a professional. You don’t have to look for master classes provided by world-famous poker players (just yet), but you can start with a local savvy. This way, the internet, and books will serve you as an addition to the base you have, instead of providing you with scattered knowledge you can hardly really make use of.
Also include things like analyzing every game, watching other players’ matches, discussing difficult hands with other aficionados and your coach, learn GTO (game theory optimal) strategies to improve your tactics, follow some famous poker players, and kind of obsess a bit over it. This doesn’t mean your only thing in mind should become poker, but try to learn as many things as possible. Also, make sure to find a place where you can test your knowledge – free poker options can make a good start.
Tip No. 3: Put Your Knowledge to Practice
After testing some free games, you should gradually move to some more advanced practices.
First, try what you’ve learned with your friends (we bet you already do that). Another thing you can do is to look for online live casino venues where you can measure your improvement with real opponents and test your knowledge in a completely unknown environment.
Slowly, you will start gaining more and more experience and will be able to draw more serious moves, matches, and players.
Tip No. 4: Set Some Realistic Goals
Once you start seeing your first big results, you start with real money casino games, but don’t trick yourself into thinking you will jump right into the Poker Hall of Fame and you should instantly quit your regular job.
You should keep in mind that working at a 9-5 job comes with some stability like staying organized, getting a monthly salary no matter how productive you were, paid vacations, days off, sick days, free holidays, opportunities for promotions, and so on. Also, you will be paid extra for overtime, which doesn’t have to be the case in poker.
With poker, you will have to organize, motivate, and plan for yourself ahead. You should know how to manage your bankroll, and how much money you can afford to lose and/or invest. You may have aspirations of making $200,000 a year (which is definitely possible), but you should know what that kind of goal includes, and how much you need to plan beforehand.
Tip no. 5: Keep Your Life Balanced
Besides big winning opportunities, what makes poker being such an interesting challenge is a challenge to overpower your opponents mentally. And the reason why many players lose a great deal of money is mainly due to their impulsiveness, making emotional decisions, or facing concentration drops.
As you may conclude, it is important to maintain your life in balance and practice good habits on top of being knowledgeable about game rules, and hacks. Aside from staying away from poker when you are having a bad day, you need to:
- Practice emotional control and mindfulness.
- Get enough sleep – a 6-8 hour sleeping schedule will work here.
- Have a balanced, nutrient-rich diet.
- Have regular workout sessions.
- Practice self-control and knowing when to quit a match.
- Learn how to stop crying over a spilled milk and not to chase losses.
- Remember to remove distractions away.
As you may conclude, if you want to be a true professional, forget about the rock’n’roll lifestyle, big lights, and big wishes. We are not saying you are not allowed to celebrate here and there, but great things come from simplicity. The more distractions you have, the more you are away from your final goal. Knowing how to keep yourself in balance and maintain your focus will keep any unnecessary missteps away.
Is This a Career Path For You?
As you already know, besides eventually being able to witness a huge stack of cash in your bank account (for having fun!), there are many other advantages of being a poker player. First of all, you can organize your time and money. Second, you are your own boss, meaning you won’t have to respond to anyone else but yourself. Depending on the type of player you are, you can also travel to various destinations, meet many great people, lead a colorful life, and take as many days off as you find suitable.
On the other hand, you will need to invest a huge amount of practice, dedication, and effort in understanding the rules of the game, always improving, and understanding people and their personalities while staying calm and focused for long periods of time in some very stressful situations. This can lead to getting exhausted from time to time. But, at the end, who likes life without any challenges?
To decide if this is a career path for you, try considering all the aforementioned. But also remember, sometimes you just need to try something out to be able to tell if that is worth