Playing poker professionally can lead to a lucrative career. The best of the best have used their skills to amass wealth in the millions. Dan Bilzerian, for one, generated a net worth of $150 million from playing poker professionally. Meanwhile, fan favorite Phil Ivey is said to have $100 million or more in table earnings –– and is likely to have many millions more in the bank from online play.
Now, these are examples from the very top of the poker world. But as long as you figure out the right strategies and put in enough practice, it’s completely possible that you can turn poker into your primary source of income –– and maybe even make it big!
Below, we’ve provided a few tips and strategies you can use to prepare yourself for a career in poker.
Abandon your ego
Making the decision to abandon your ego is a good idea in life in general, and leads to countless benefits. But it’s also a key step toward a steady poker career! If you let pride get the best of you, you might end up making decisions out of emotion rather than strategy –– which is a big red flag for any poker player. While it can be tempting to prove that you’re a great poker player by going up against the greats, this strategy is an easy way to lose money. Focus on building your bankroll, even if that means playing against people who aren’t yet at your level.
Improve your game skills
Instead of playing to prove your skill, you need to play to build your skill. No matter how good you are, it will always help to pay attention to advice from seasoned players when it comes to poker tips that even the best of the best stick to. For example, get to know other players and if possible ask them for their honest feedback about your playing style. They might even give you some pointers. You can also seek the advice of experts online. Many poker coaches will put their experience to writing, and provide tips and strategies on the internet –– sometimes even for free.
Sort out your finances
Playing poker professionally has more in common with running a business than it does with having a job. For instance, as in any business, you will need to put down a certain amount of capital in order to see results. You also don’t get paid regularly.
And just like any business, you’ll inevitably encounter a few bad money days. So, just as you want to avoid money blunders in a personal or professional capacity, you need to figure out how to have a solid handle on the money you play poker with. Create a budget to keep track of where every dollar is going, and prevent overspending. If you’re getting serious about the game, you may also want to open up two separate bank accounts: one for your poker playing, and one for day-to-day use.
Prepare for weird work hours
Professional poker players don’t have a steady 9-to-5 routine. Instead, you decide when to show up and play a game. However, this doesn’t mean total freedom, since you will need to work during active online hours if you want to increase your profits. Additionally, if you’re not playing exclusively online, you might end up having to travel to and from various destinations in order to participate in cash games and tournaments.
For some, having such flexibility can be an advantage. Others may not be able to handle the odd hours, particularly if those hours negatively affect other aspects of day-to-day life. Either way, if you want to commit to playing poker professionally, you will need to accept that your lifestyle will not match the schedules of most other people in your life.
For those who are serious about it, playing poker isn’t just a fun way to pass the time. It can also be a genuinely lucrative career option, especially if you consistently work on your game. If you want to play poker professionally, you need to build confidence, improve your skills, manage your finances, and prepare for a lifestyle of freedom and flexibility.