5 Tips for Becoming a Professional Poker Player

"5 Tips for Becoming a Professional Poker Player" has always been the most popular post on our site, but it's become a little dated. I've made some edits to the advice in this article, which was original published several years ago. The new tips and the changes make the article even more relevant for today's aspiring poker pro.

Money Matters

poker pro If you are planning on becoming a poker pro, then money matters!

Without a bankroll, you don't have a career as a professional poker player, period.

How big a bankroll do you need in order to become a pro? It needs to be big enough to cover six months' of living expense, but it also needs to be big enough to cover your play at the tables. In other words, you need six months' of living expenses PLUS a bankroll set aside just for playing poker.Financial pressure is the #1 reason people fail when they try to play poker at the professional level.

People who quit their job and have a bad run have to crawl back to their old job. Most importantly of all, no matter how big your bankroll is, you can't make a living playing Texas holdem or any other game if you're not a winning player.

By the way we are talking about real money here, not Sklansky dollars.

Deal With It

Most Professional Poker Player Don't Look Like This!

Learn to deal with variance. When you get a bad beat, you have to shake it off instantly. Players who moan and groan about their bad beats and bad runs at the table turn into losing players, because they're so focused on results that they forget to focus on what's actually important-playing well.

Detachment from the results is critical, especially if you play poker on television. Some Buddhist reading and thought might be in order.

Back To School

Studying the game is as important as playing the game!

If you don't study, you won't improve, and you won't make money. You can study in any of a hundred ways.

You can discuss hands on poker forums. You can discuss hands with friends who also play serious poker. You can watch training videos. You can analyze your results using Internet poker tools like Holdem Manager or PokerTracker. You can hire a poker coach. You can study books.

Find a way to study the game which you enjoy. Schedule time into your day just for studying poker. It matters.

The Games Aren't Going Anywhere

Don't play poker 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Professional poker is work, and workers should have a work schedule.

This not only maintains life balance, it also allows you to manage yourself. You shouldn't be playing when you're tired, because you'll make mistakes. And if you're making mistakes, you're going to lose money.

Take Advantage of Promotions

Promotions are pure profit. When you're talking about online poker promotions, you're talking about bonuses, VIP programs, and rakerebate deals.

Depending where you play, you might be able to get 25% or more of your rake returned to you, either in cash or merchandise. Don't ignore that, because that's a big part of your bottom line.

In fact, these kinds of promotions are important enough that you can turn a losing month into a winning month. Having a losing month puts financial pressure on even the most Zen-like poker player, so if can convert a losing month into a winning month just by using a rakeback deal, then you should do so.