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How do I become a professional poker player?


If I wanted to become a ‘professional’ poker player, how would I start? Online tournaments? Local tournaments? Is there a place I can go to find more information? Or should I just take my 10k buy in to the main event and hope to make the final table (or at the very least, in the money). I guess I’m just trying to figure out if there is a place where I can gain more information about wanting to take poker seriously rather than just watching it on tv.

Question posted by: Black_19


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6 Responses to “How do I become a professional poker player?”

  1. tipp10 Says:

    I would think that you should go down to the closest casino and sit down at a poker table and play. Once you can do that and make enough money to live off without working an outside job then you will be a pro. Winning the main event at the WSOP doesn’t make you a pro. It doesn’t hurt but it doesn’t make you a pro.

    BTW playing online allows you to get a lot of experience in a short period of time.

  2. ZCT Says:

    Really, just play online. If you are any good you will eventually be able to win a trip to a real tournament. Once there you will have a shot at the big money. If you are not good enough to win a decent online tournament, you are not good enough to become a pro. Online is a really great starting point, and with the speed they deal online, you will get to learn a lot in a short period of time.

  3. bigslick316 Says:

    Playing “professionally” is a lot tougher and a hell of a lot less glamorous than most people realize. There are a number of factors to consider.

    The biggest, yet possibly least discussed, factor is the rake. All casinos, online or otherwise, rake cash games and require entry fees in tournaments. Some are reasonable and can be overcome by a truly skilled player, others are very excessive and should definitely be avoided. And, oddly, it can be difficult to determine the difference without considerable scrutiny.

    Another major pitfall is money management. It’s very common for a player to go on a rush, perhaps even an extended rush, and do well only to give back all his winnings in a single session or small handful of sessions. Or possibly to spend those winnings on spoils only to go on a cold streak and lose what little bankroll he left himself to continue playing with.

    Others have done well, but lost everything when they have upped their limits a bit too high only to run into competition they can no longer beat, yet refused to drop their limits back down.

    And yet others might win a couple tournaments, but get sunk come tax time when they’re forced to pay excessive taxes on the winnings they’re forced to claim (and can’t successfully negate to the satisfaction of an IRS auditor by claiming losses.)

    I played casino poker “professionally” for a while a number of years ago – before most players today had ever heard of Hold’em – so perhaps I can help you to an extent. Today, however, I just supplement with play in spare time only. It keeps me sane and more-importantly permits me to blow winnings on entertainment or things I wouldn’t otherwise purchase without fear of depreciating my bankroll more than I should.

    Begin with limit play. Do your homework first! Read everything you can about low limit. Forget about tournaments and all-in play. Learn (or re-learn) the most basic fundamentals as they will apply to all games you may find yourself in. Commit to memory the importance of position, pot odds, aggressive play, etc. – all the fundamentals.

    PLAY TIGHT! Seriously, play so tight it almost makes you puke. Rarely does a good, consistently-profitable player enjoy the game – it should be a grind, perhaps even a bore. Get real used to folding and learn to fold monster hands when you’re beat.

    DON’T EVER CALL A BET YOU KNOW YOU SHOULDN’T!

    Know your competition and learn from them. If you’re playing in a casino, this isn’t too difficult, but if you’re playing online it can be more difficult. If you’re playing online, do not surf the web, walk away from your PC during hands you’re not in, etc. Watch and learn how others play – specifically what hands they play, from what positions, and how they play them. Use that information to your benefit. Don’t waste time trying to read peoples’ faces.

    Know and learn from yourself. Know your limits and analyze your mistakes. For example, when you get your aces snapped, did you bring it on yourself by not raising pre-flop? Did you call a pre-flop raise with K-9, at some point make a straight, only to lose to a bigger straight by the guy holding A-K (the same guy who’s raise you should never have called to start with)?

    In “The Art of War,” the 4th century B.C. Chinese war strategist Sun Tzu wisely states, “Know your enemy and know yourself and in one hundred battles, you shall never perish.” He must have been a poker player. Re-read the previous two paragraphs. See what I mean?

    KEEP BOOKS, BUT DON’T “COOK” THEM! By that I mean keep a log of your play. Track how much you win or lose along with how long you play each and every session. Don’t “forget” to log a session because you took an astronomical odds-defying beat or two therefore that session was an anomaly and shouldn’t count. When you’re winning, consistently, more than one big bet per hour, you’re doing good.

    Eventually you may consider hedging your bets a bit by playing a higher limit cash game. Go for it, but only if you can afford it. I would recommend playing at a limit where the conventional buy-in (usually 20-40 times the big bet) is no more than about 5% of your bankroll. Don’t get too greedy by upping your limits too high or too quickly. And if after upping your limits, you find yourself losing, for God’s sake, drop them back down and start playing winning poker again!

    If you’re able to do all of the above, and do it for a profit, start entering some tournaments. Sure the strategy will differ a bit, but you’ll already be equipped with the tools to know how and when to vary your play.

    In tournaments, find what works for you and run with it. As an ultra-tight and good heads-up no-limit player, I prefer single table tournaments where I almost always finish in the money and rarely lose once heads-up (even if way behind to start). If you’re good at bullying right out of the gate, perhaps the multi-table tournaments are more your speed.

    Another note on tournaments, if you win big or accrue a certain amount of winnings over the course of a year in an actual casino, you’ll be required to claim those winnings. For that reason, you may consider restricting your tournament play to online. If you prefer the casino setting, however, use your ATM card there often and save all the withdrawal slips. You can use those as evidence when you write off gambling losses in the event that you get audited.

    Last note on tournaments: Remember you can’t up and walk away after a huge score like you can in a cash game!

    Sorry this has run rather long, but there’s a lot (far, far more that just what I’ve written) to consider and learn before playing “professionally.” Hopefully it’s helped, though.

    Good luck!

  4. pokercoach Says:

    All of the answers above gave you good advices, but I have to say. If you struggling and asking “how” to become a pro player. You are far from becoming one. But that’s OK. Time and experience will help you with that answer. Just keep in mind:
    1: Keep your job for a long time, until you win more money with poker than you will make with your job ( and I mean over a long period, at least 6 months to a year, not after 3 days of good profit)
    2: Play a lot! And “study the game” a lot! When you decide to do something, you have to give 100% to succeed, so if you’re not at work, you should be playing. THose 2 things have to be a big part of your time.
    3: Be patient, one of the beauty of poker is opportunity.
    4: If you’re married, have kids….etc. Make sure they understand your goal and support you. Poker is tough! You are going to need to have a good environment around you.
    4: Winning a big tournament once, doesn’t mean you can make a living playing! I know several players who won good tournaments, but can’t deal with the pressure of doing that all the time!….Keep in mind it’s only 2, 3 days of success! Making a living with it an a daily bases it’s a all different story.
    5: Money management is one of the key to succeed in poker

    Take care

  5. Vegas Matt Says:

    The advice on here is good, but seriously over-complicating it. All you have to do is play whatever form of poker you prefer (online or live) and make enough to live off of. This is no qualifying school or poker player draft, you just jump in and do it. If you do not live in Vegas or AC or somewhere else with live poker tables, start online and see if you cut it yet.

    It sounds like you have no concept of having a proper stake, which is the no. 2 criteria for going pro, next to having skill. Over the history of the game, there have been a lot of great players that could become millionaires that busted out and died broke because they didn’t know how to manage their money. Read up on money management thoroughly before you try to go pro.

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