Top Advice For Players Looking To Turn Pro (And Why It's Tougher Than You Think)

 It's a big leap from being a profitable recreational player, to becoming a professional and earning your living on the tables. And it's not a leap that I recommend for everyone.

Before quitting your day job, you should always ask yourself whether you are good enough, whether you are ready, and whether you really want it? Being a poker professional is not easy, and only the top 1% of players make any real money. 

Also, professional poker is a daily grind with unpredictable results and unstable incomes. It's not all about scooping the huge pots and winning the biggest online tournaments.

This article will help you to understand what your new living would entail, so you can make an informed choice about whether to cross the bridge and become a pro.

Poker As a Business

Let's get one thing straight; a professional poker player is not playing a game. They are running a business. They see hands in terms of expected value, and they make investments on profitable situations using their chips. At this level, the mindset is not much different to playing the stock market.

Like every business person, you need to be at the top of your game. Part of this is understanding the mathematics and winning strategies. This is going to require a lot of reading and watching training videos, as well as analyzing your own gameplay off the tables using software.

Professionals adopt bankroll management strategies (the equivalent of diversifying an investment portfolio) in order to account for the inevitable statistical variance. They play sound and logical poker based on making a profit in the long term. They are not chucking chips around for fun!

Get Ready For The Grind

Playing poker for a living is not some sort of unimaginable, dreamy millionaire’s lifestyle. Sure, it can be for some people, but the pros on television are usually sponsored.

Some pros are fantastic and committed players, but the point is most online and live pros rarely hit the spotlight. They are too busy grinding away to earn their keep! For every person who randomly wins a huge payout in their first week of being pro, there are a thousand others who have been grinding for years in anticipation of their life-changing win.

Most professional players will tell you that they usually play for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, with just a few breaks during the day to protect their sanity. Starting to sound like any other job, isn't it? Well, in a lot of ways it is similar. You are going to have to work hard to see a healthy return.

Because life as a poker professional is going to be a grind, you had better be sure that you have a genuine passion for the game, and that you are not just looking for a get-rich-quick scheme.

Don't Forget The Crushing Bad Runs...

You all know what a bad beat is, don't you? You get your AA all-in against some guys sorry looking 89s, and somehow they turn and river their straight and take away your deserved money. It happens all the time. In fact, if you play for a living you will soon discover that a bad run can last for months.

A three-month long spell of losing (or just breaking even) can destroy an unprepared professional. It isn't so bad if you still have your day job, but if you gave it all up in some valiant move of heroism then you had better have some money saved behind you just in case.

Bad runs can truly take the steam out of even the best players. They are a result of statistical variance, the 'luck' element of poker. A winning player makes the right moves often enough to smooth out this variance and make money in the long run, but how and when that money comes is not guaranteed.

Given the unpredictable nature of the poker results, you will need to make an exceptional effort to control your emotions. You need to understand that bad runs are in the nature of the game, have enough money to cover them, and be able to continue playing solid, optimal poker even when luck isn't on your side.

Be Sure To Balance Your Lifestyle

Most of your time playing poker professionally is going to be spent grinding, and a lot of it is going to be spent wondering when the next sustainable winning session will finally happen. If you are still keen to go pro, then you just might be ready.

If you do decide to play for a living, you need to make an effort to balance your lifestyle. Most pros play online poker for most of their income, and perhaps supplement it with the odd live event. You will be staring at the screen all day, and potentially not getting out very much.

To balance this, you need to live a healthy lifestyle. Exercise, sleep and eat well, set your own work hours, take regular rests and longer breaks, and make sure you continue to leave the house and socialize. All of this will be your responsibility, and yours alone, so you'd better step up to the task!

Enjoy Life As A Poker Pro!

This article is not intended to put you off the idea of becoming a pro, but to make you realize the realities of it. Too many people think poker is an easy living and a dream lifestyle, only to find out months or years down the line that it is not for them.

If you have read and understood this article, you should now be in a better position to decide whether you should become a pro. You need to be good enough, work hard, and run your poker like a business!

If you decide that it is for you, then I wish you the best of luck and hope you enjoy life playing your favorite game for money!