Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013

Are you ready to become a Professional Poker Player?

Doubt it.

Going pro is a big decision and should be planned carefully. Firstly, let’s look at the advantages/disadvantages of going pro.


  • Working from home or anywhere in the world where online poker is available
  • Choose your own hours and get to sleep in
  • No annoying boss or colleagues/clients to answer to
  • No taxes
  • Holidays when you want for long time if you choose
  • Something you are passionate about
  • Can meet like minded people both online and at the casino
  • Something you get better at with time and win rate can increases
  • Can get staked (someone lends you money to play in return of a share of profits) which reduces your own risk and stress
  • There are always new players trying out the game and fresh ‘dead’ money (supposedly)
  • Learn some valuable life skills such as patience, discipline and money management


  • No guarantee of steady income and stress of failing to pay expenses
  • Have to put in the hours, day in and day out
  • Requires extreme discipline not to tilt
  • Tournament circuit is expensive and never guaranteed (can go months/years without getting to final table)
  • Can be lonely if you’re playing online
  • Mood swings and stress
  • Getting burnt out if you play too much
  • No career progression, very difficult to go back to 9-5 job routine as most employers just do not understand poker
  • Negative stigma but improving past few years
  • Non-productive job which doesn’t contribute to society
  • Games may become tougher in the future as less fish join
  • The game stops becoming fun

Just like any jobs there are pros and cons but I feel there are more pros, particularly regarding being your own boss, financial benefits (including not paying taxes) and choosing your hours.

However, the truth is that very few people have what it takes to be pro and the reasons why can be broken down into four categories:

  • Not having a planHe who fails to plan, plans to fail”; Such as how many hours to play, how much to expect to win and withdraw to pay for expenses.
  • Just not good enough skill-wise: It’s one thing to crush the micro limits but once you move up into the middle/higher limits, the games are completely different and you’re going to have to play against some tough regulars day in and day out. Can you handle it? Also, just because you win 20 big bets an hour for 2000 hands, doesn’t mean that you will win it after 20,000 hands! You need a big sample of hands to see if you are good enough, at least 100,000 with a good steady win rate of $50 an hour.
  • No discipline: Tilt is a leak for many players. After playing for 5 days straight, 7 hours a day, its very easy to lose focus and lose all your profits and more.
  • Bad money management: Playing too high for the bankroll and not moving down when losing a significant portion of the bankroll. Or worse, having to pay your rent out of your poker bankroll.

Its important to be completely honest with yourself. You need a plan to give yourself the best possible chance to succeed!

Here are some important questions to ask yourself when making such a plan:

  • What is my long term win rate?
  • Have I done an honest evaluation of my living expenses (including retirement and health insurance if you live in the US)? Recommended to have at least six months living expenses saved up which is separate from your bankroll.
  • Does anybody else rely on you to make money?
  • What is my bankroll?
  • How much do I expect to withdraw and when (and contingencies if I don’t win as expected)?
  • How will I be viewed by friends and family?
  • If things don’t work out as planned, how long before I quit?

Hope this didn’t sound too negative, it was not my intention! I have many friends who have turned pro and are doing excellent for themselves and very happy about it but these people are extremely disciplined and focused. If you have the skills, the right attitude, a plan and a bit of luck, you have a good chance to succeed.