Many poker players dream of quitting their jobs and playing professionally because of all of the trappings and advantages of such a life. While it can of course bring you a lot of joy and freedom, it’s important to realize that the life of a professional poker player is not always as rosy as it might seem.
You have to be really dedicated, disciplined, and put in a lot of work to become one of the best. This could of course be said about any other profession as well, but poker can offer you unlimited rewards, which you get to keep yourself. So, considering the potential upside, putting in the work isn’t such a bad deal.
If you want to get on the path towards becoming a professional poker player, you can take a few shortcuts by focusing on what really matters most, and that’s what this article will concentrate on.
Master The Game
While it might seem obvious that you will need to master poker strategy, it is not easy or 100% straightforward. As the saying goes, “it takes 5 minutes to learn, but a lifetime to master.”
Many poker players jump from one game to another, playing some cash games, then trying MTTs, then maybe giving PLO a go. They’re constantly in pursuit of excitement at the table.
While this is certainly fine if you are a recreational player looking to have some fun, this is most definitely not an advisable strategy for anyone wanting to become a professional player.
Moreover, if you do not have a passion for the game, there is no way you will be successful playing it full-time. Sure, we all play to win, but if you are doing it only for the money, you will not have the intestinal fortitude to be able to put in enough hours studying and working away from the table to reach long-term success.
If you are serious about becoming a professional poker player, you should pick one game that you like the most and put all of your efforts into master that format. This way, you will be able to grow as a player and learn the necessary skills much more quickly than jumping from one game to another.
Obviously, poker study is a lifetime journey, but if you want to get the edge on your opponents, you will have to work hard. Improved poker skill is not something you’ll just find stuffed in a Christmas stocking some day.
Luckily, there are many good poker tips you can discover along the way, so take advantage of available information and don’t rest on your laurels once you start seeing success.
Learn To Control Your Emotions
Emotions at the poker table can make or break you. To be more precise, if you are not able to leave your emotions aside and make thought out, controlled decisions, it will be very hard to succeed.
Even simple routines, like taking some time to prepare for your session and removing distractions, can help you a lot.
Controlling your emotions goes way deeper than that though. You need to get enough sleep to have the energy for playing your A-game, as well as exercise regularly and eat healthy. It’s not surprise that so many of the world’s top poker players look so physically fit! They didn’t just know what to do; they acted on it!
Obviously, getting to the point where you can fully control your emotions will require some “trial and error“ along the way, but like with most things, you can take a few shortcuts here and there.
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Carefully Manage Your Bankroll
The game of poker has advanced to a point that even beginning players nowadays know the importance of bankroll management. If managed properly, it helps you to move up in stakes, increase your overall winnings, and avoid dusting off all your money on a bad run.
Bankroll management is even more critical for professional poker players. You need to be able to pay the bills, cover travel and living expenses, and on top of that save enough to consistently increase your bankroll. Otherwise you’ll just be stuck playing for the same stakes.
Being a professional poker player is not about taking huge risks or putting your entire bankroll at stake for the chance at winning a shiny trophy. Quite the contrary, it is all about being consistent with your game selection and constantly moving up, instead of taking uncalculated risks.
Therefore, you should quickly get to the point where you know how much money you’ll need to withdraw from your bankroll every month or week to cover your living expenses as well as how much you’ll need to comfortably play at your preferred stakes.
Once you know these numbers, it is much easier to come up with a solid plan for how to reach your goals, or at least how to plan out the start your journey. Do not take this advice lightly! Learn how to manage your money and you will have a much higher chance of succeeding in poker and becoming a professional.