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StrategyPoker Basics

Are you fit for professional Poker?


In this Article
  • Advantages of the Professional Track
  • Disadvantages of the Professional Track
  • What does it take to be a pro?
The large majority of our members only play poker in their spare time and will continue to do so in the future. If that's true, then what is the justification for this article? On the one hand, we cannot dismiss the existential relevance of a purely academic interest. That aside, there is a small group of our members for whom this topic is spot on. The decision, to go pro or not to go pro, is hefty enough that possible problems should be addressed. For whom is this relevant? First, it is the professionals who have cultivated our community, but it is also for those who are ready to make that leap. They are those who indeed play on the side, but nonetheless have begun to earn almost as much at poker as a low paying day job; they could already live off poker money if they were prepared to make some sacrifices. Then there is the crop of young players who, even though they have only recently begun to get into the material, dream nonetheless of a glorious road to poker-millionairedom. Such dreams are often nourished by the glamorous events on television. It can't hurt to couple such thoughts to the reason-train right from the start.

Advantages of the Professional Track

Almost all members share a common love of poker for the sheer fun of it. Fun, however, has many sources. Successful poker makes successful experiences. It's also exciting, giving so many people their daily quota of adrenaline. Poker is also very rewarding on a scientific plane. By and by there is a lot of good literature on the subject and the game is therefore a rich setting for gaining knowledge. For many, the pursuit of knowledge is the same as the pursuit of enjoyment. And let us not forget the drive for competition. A professional poker player can play all through adulthood. Those with „Peter Pan syndrome“ usually find that poker is a good way to stay feeling young.
With enough talent and dedication poker can be very profitable. It is questionable, however, whether one can make more there than in the free economy as a manager or businessperson. Most top-earners of the poker world would have the option of an alternate career in the business world, owing to their intelligence.

Depending on one's personality, one is more or less drawn toward self-discipline. One is forced to comply with a hierarchical system in order to have a job. This nearly implies a certain self-denial, since one cannot always give a candid opinion to colleagues, especially the boss. Lastly, situations arise in most systems which demand untruth. An independent poker player can free himself from this suppression, although not all poker players take advantage of this.

Of course, one is not immune to bullying by colleagues or bosses. This phenomenon has only lately been debated with any heat. Many physical and psychosomatic illnesses, like ulcers, can stem from this behavior.

Working from Home
Working from the house is quite comfortable. There is considerable time to be gained from not having to make oneself presentable and commute. One might even be able to do without a car entirely and save money that way.

This is a very alluring factor for many people. It's nice of course, to sleep in after a night of celebration; however, therein lies the danger of shoving one's life into the unproductive hours of the night. A steady rhythm coupled with early rising has many advantages, although there are a significant number of night owls amongst professionals who usually keep online customers awake (Americans). Such a rhythm is also unhealthy; I could not stand missing the sun. In any case, you should also try table selecting during the day as well. We assume this is when you've traditionally been doing your data mining.

The life of a poker-pro can be executed from the home, but it could also be executed from your houseboat in the Caribbean. It is a lifestyle exceedingly free in the planning required.

Free time
The working hours are easy to adjust, making it easier to focus on your life partner and expand your social contacts.

I don't know how many academics over 50 I've seen forced to drive cabs, but the count could be pretty high by now. Because of the dynamics of today's job market there are no sure things anymore. Poker is not so. Once one is established it will be more difficult to reach unemployment. However, one must be ready to relocate for legal reasons.

Other Dependencies
The business life is dependent not only on bosses but also on customers, suppliers, and tides of economy.

Disadvantages of the Professional Track

Whoever ceases to play a game and begins to view it as merely a means to an end (making money) runs the risk of coming to the point where the game is just as boring as a monotonous office job (which is not to say that all office jobs are boring, per se).

It takes capital to play poker. Capital that is then subjected to a certain amount of risk.

Wavering Income
The financial development of a profitable professional runs somewhat like a stockmarket in it's graph: from low on the left to high on the right, only with a zigzag. The income will sometimes be negative. Although large market crashes look like just an indentation in the long-term, their effect in the short term can be violent. Every budding professional must be aware of the possibility of a downswing.

Retirement Funds
Regular employees get pensions from the state and from their employers to help them in their old age. Poker players have to fend for themselves.
Loss of Income During Vacation
There's nobody to hold the place of a poker player when he goes on vacation.

Dubious Social Status
For those who pay attention to their social standing, be aware that people will look at you sideways once you publicly mention you are a poker player or "gambler" (still a dirty word for many people). Hopefully this is not a concern for a true professional.

Leadership and Structure
Many people need leadership and a solid structure. The lack of such a structure makes them disoriented. The poker player must motivate himself and give his own life structure. Otherwise he'll be in danger of just sitting around and loafing.

Poker Geekdom
Almost every career that is intensive in practice carries a danger of making oneself a geek. The problem with poker is that it does not transcend itself. One does learn much that is useful; self-discipline, self-discovery, and financial management, amongst others. In contrast to other careers the work stays introverted. One does not learn much that could be called existentially meaningful.

Mood Swings
Almost everybody is prone to changing moods because of short term successes or failures. This sort of behavior should be suppressed during poker to avoid being slaved to the whims of one's own emotions.

Poker is a real emotional drain. One needs strength, courage, and a strong ego. One must be continually suggestive of this power, which can lead to the loss of perspective. Hence it is imperative that one observe oneself and steer away from this if necessary.

What does it take to be a pro?

The same virtues that make a good hobby player also form the basis for the professional.

Above and beyond these qualities, one must harmonize with the exceptional lifestyle and financial peculiarities of the business. In general, one should love freedom and lack the need for security. The love of the game, ambition, and motivation are all important.

The higher one's intelligence, the easier it will be to understand the laws and principles that govern the game. In high limits games there will be people who have really eaten their wheaties, although it doesn't take a Stephen Hawking to be a small limit pro. But under real circumstances intelligence alone will not be enough to master the game. Many people struggle to put theory into practice. The ability to do that is called talent.

Talent gets results. Only one who has shown that he can hold his own over a long period of time (6-12 months) and make enough to live, at least in the small limit area (FL 2/4 or FL 3/6), should think about making a professional career out of the game.

Comments (36)

#1 theboydave, 23 Jul 09 17:45

good read pointing out the pros and cons

#2 Hahaownedlolz, 30 Sep 09 15:54

The social status isn't really a con. I mean why would you be ashamed of it if you earn way more then most people (if your succesful atleast), by doing what you love, and you can do it whenever you feel like it.

It seems like a dreamjob to most people rather then something to be ashamed of. but ofcourse you don't have a stead income, and could lose Alot of your money. (Although a pro should know about bankrollmanagement so the chance of that should be extremely small)

#3 dubrovnik, 19 Oct 09 07:58

ofcourse people see you differenty if you're a gambler...

#4 Koshburger, 16 Jan 10 10:45


#5 Rap1d007, 06 Mar 10 10:12

hmm pro poker is not so easy :D

#6 Oolaka, 30 Mar 10 12:17

I love this game !

#7 ilovem0ney22, 20 May 10 17:16

I feel like i have everything to become a pro, I just more time :)

#8 Salivanth, 02 Jan 11 13:44

This seems less like a "Are you able to be a pro" article, and more a "Should you bother trying to become a pro" article. It's still a great article though.

#9 matelot49, 15 Jan 11 13:02

I trade the stock market (small stuff)which is also gambling but doesn´t carry the same stigma attached to poker.

Who caused the recent crisis? Wasn´t the poker community!!

To hell which stigma!.

#10 ReaZoN999, 16 Jan 11 03:31

Nice to read

#11 Saka000, 01 Apr 11 09:16

What does it means "lack the need for security" at the bottom of page ???

#12 w34z3l, 20 May 11 17:00

Your computer could catch fire =/

#13 fiskzero, 18 Jul 11 11:19

#9 I trade the stock market (big stuff) and stock trading is not gambling

nice read

#14 Zareos, 09 Aug 11 00:22

#11 it means you can cope without the regular steady paycheck. As some months you'll be "running high in April, shot down in May"

#15 Maniatrix, 26 Sep 11 22:47

#13 It's as much gambling as poker. Then again, poker isn't gambling.

#16 voddies, 10 Jun 12 00:31

If only every person stating to be a "professional poker player" could take the time to visit this site and know what's in store for them... poker would be so much more enjoyable for us all :- )
Great article and eye opener

#17 genia2q, 12 Jul 13 15:31

Any career you set your mind for success you need to study. Same applies to Poker game if you wont success you need to study. I don't look at it as gambling. Great article.

#18 mamorys9, 16 Oct 13 15:29


#19 Marsimillion, 08 Apr 14 12:41

great article - I wouldn't call playing poker with skill gambling - risk management is more accurate term here - same applies to investing in stocks - you manage your losses by withdrawing your funds at a certain market cap ... - & just like article states there's no security anymore in any business - jobs can be lost, markets change, economy isn't always stable ... it's all about making the smart choices both in poker & in life

#20 biggood, 07 Sep 14 17:56


#21 catblank, 14 Oct 14 09:02


#22 KosttuxxRNMD, 03 Jan 15 20:48


#23 thewinemaker, 18 Mar 15 18:13

I was a Real Estate Agent for 20 years, everything I learned there I have applied to poker. Time Management, money management, plus no advertising costs, no sharing commissions, no phone calls ever meal, I can turn off the bullies, customer grabers, and bosses, and still have fun. Lol!!! good luck to all you exspectful pros, i remember my exspectful early days in real estate. :)

#24 LeNNy010, 25 Mar 15 16:28

Love the article, not really considering to become a pro. Even though it's a vague wish and I am picking up the game more and more in my free time. Real eye opener.

#25 LyToLV, 10 Jun 15 15:25

U need to read this if u realy want to be a pro.

#26 vinkojudi, 31 Jul 15 10:52


#27 vinkojudi, 31 Jul 15 10:52


#28 minsa0123, 12 Nov 15 06:01

good read pointing out the pros and cons

#29 bubamarasr, 21 Jan 16 00:56

Read it. Thank you.

#30 hassux, 25 Jan 16 21:29

badi nik kiss emou

#31 sedinbsng, 02 Apr 16 20:52


#32 CroZoZo, 26 Apr 16 13:22


#33 CroZoZo, 26 Apr 16 13:22


#34 kerpen1980, 29 Jun 16 01:29


#35 starsdk17, 25 Aug 17 09:23

good overview of all aspects

#36 CassioM, 26 Aug 17 00:32

Poker is a matter of hard training... like a SEAL soldier