How To Become A Pro Poker Player

Some advice for poker players on how to make the transition to playing professionally, from bluffing to staying healthy and keeping a cool head.

Advice on Becoming a Poker Professional

Online poker has made the game more accessible, and popular, than ever. Many players aspire to become pros, but it’s easier said than done. Here’s some guidance for those seeking to make the leap and play for a living.

Have a Healthy Lifestyle

This applies to lots of jobs but can especially apply to poker, which necessarily comes with ups and downs aplenty. Having a healthy lifestyle (in both a physiological and psychological sense) is a huge advantage for aspiring players. This can come from something as simple as exercising and doing yoga (which can help the back a lot, important when work involves sitting down for hours at a time). Money worries due to uncertainty over an unpredictable income from poker can be ameliorated by having a secondary source of income that could be done once or twice a week, or an hour or two a day to provide some measure of stability (and a break from poker).

Setting up a regime that involves regular breaks is also a good way to go. This will help avoid or reduce eyestrain from staring at a screen and prevent circulatory or back problems from developing or worsening. The specifics will depend upon your circumstances and location, but timing dog walks, meals, stretching, and quick household chores can be a great way to avoid prolonged periods of sitting still. Not only is this physically good for you, but it will also help keep you sharper when playing.

Casino Video Poker

Someone dreaming of becoming a pro needs to devote themselves to poker, but there are alternative games at betting sites that can offer a distraction. One that particularly appeals to many players is video poker. This game category is available at many casinos including the recommended best sites that offer video poker as compiled by, which is an easy way to find trusted places to play and spend your time having fun rather than trawling the internet for online casinos.

Be Prepared to Invest Time

Everyone dreams of winning big and getting a seven or eight-figure annual income from playing poker. But that is very much the exception to the rule. Most poker players are working (and it is work if you’re playing on a professional basis) a similar number of hours to a regular job, without making megabucks. Even those earning a good sum of cash are very much earning their pay. Playing poker is not a cruise down easy street to countless riches, and any expectation of that has to be set aside if you’re serious about becoming a pro.

On that note, luck always plays a role and even the wisest can make misjudgements (which can vary from costing little or nothing all the way through to making a huge difference). Because of this, aspiring pros, particularly early on, need to be good at handling their bankroll when at the table. More important yet is to be happy to save perhaps more than is usual to take into account for when things don’t go well because, while poker is a lot of fun, unlike most jobs you have no guaranteed salary (unless you’re fortunate enough to be sponsored) and it’s possible to lose rather than make money.

Don’t be Predictable, Bluffing is your Friend

If you never bluff in poker you are guaranteed to lose because you will get bluffed out when others are pretending to have decent hands as well as losing when you call because sometimes you’ll simply have inferior cards. Knowing when and how to bluff is important, and perhaps the single most critical aspect is to not be predictable. If people can tell when you’re bluffing then you may as well not be doing it. Not only will you get called, but you might also get tricked into overdoing it when your adversary has a decent hand. But if they’re not sure whether you’ve got a great hand or a 2-7 unsuited then this creates doubt and uncertainty in the mind of your opponents. Sometimes they’ll make the right call and sometimes they won’t, and the latter presents the opportunity for winning when otherwise you would not.

Knowing when to bluff and when not to is something that can be learnt with experience but always remember you’re playing the player as much as the hand.

Stay Relaxed and Sober

It’s easier said than done, but poker is a fascinating combination of understanding mathematical probabilities and human psychology. That includes the psychology of oneself (as Sun Tzu observed, this is one half of achieving certain victory, the other half is understanding one’s opponents). If you get stressed with a few losses, or over-excited and complacent with a few wins then your decision-making skills will become poorer. Actively aspire to counterbalance the natural, but unhelpful instinct to be despondent or giddy when things are going poorly or well. Luck always plays a part in poker, and nobody is flawless, so don’t lose heart. And if things are going well stay cool.

On a related note, and this is obvious but worth reiterating, don’t go into a poker tournament with a gallon of booze surging through your system. Alcohol can be fun for relaxing and unwinding. It is not, however, renowned for improving one’s sense of judgement or enhancing a sense of restraint (as Shakespeare’s porter in Macbeth observed, it both provokes the desire and takes away the performance). Naturally, the same applies to drugs.

Sometimes it can be a good idea to avoid playing when going through a significant emotional time. And that’s not just obvious episodes of sadness such as the loss of a loved one, but can include good news. If you’ve just become a parent then your mind might, understandably, be more concerned with your son or daughter than the game. This is a more subjective matter than shunning booze and drugs, but consider it when deciding whether to play or pass.

Playing poker professionally can be a great way to make a living, but ensure you go into it with your eyes open, aware of the time commitment and the importance of staying healthy.