The unconventional nature of playing poker professionally sometimes makes it difficult for people to consider it as a long-term legitimate pursuit, and there are multiple stereotypes associated with the game which make it that much more difficult for people to understand. The series of questions that follows “I am a professional poker player”, are sometimes annoying and even mind-boggling.
Not to mention, every art form — including dancing, painting and playing football — was once a stereotype before it made sense to the public. Promotion of the art form, de-mystifying myths and openly explaining the game to the public, all work to break down stereotypes. To that effort, this is a short guide for professional poker players on how to deal with stereotypical questions with genuine replies that might follow you telling people what your job is. Just as an example, playing poker for a living online isn’t the same as playing table games like online blackjack. So, if the next time any of these top five stereotypical questions pops up, promote the art of poker and give people reasons to respect your profession.
1. Isn’t poker a game of luck ?
The most common stereotype of poker is that it is a game of mere luck and does not need any skill. But, if playing chess, driving a car or taking part in an auction is considered a skill rather than luck, then poker might as well be, too. Activities based on estimation, strategy and probabilities have been Artificial Intelligence’s (AI) muse for a long time. Not long ago, an AI poker game defeated some top poker players, Dong Kim, Jason Les, Jimmy Chou, and Daniel McAulay, indicating that poker is as much a skill like other games. The outcome of the scientific experiment proved that the game cannot be won, even with the best cards, without individual skill and aptitude.
2. Do you contribute anything to society ?
To a degree, choosing to be a professional poker player right now makes more sense than ever before. The changing climate suggests that we indeed should slow down and “escape from the rat race” and start producing and consuming less. Poker, in that sense, not only generates employment for the ones associated with the live and online games, but also reduces the exploitation of the natural resources, by essentially not producing any goods or selling products.
3. Do you have a steady income?
Poker might not assure monthly salaries, but with good bankroll management and economic skills, you can plan accordingly in advance to use your earnings to cover your living expenses. While the current pandemic has affected other sources of income terribly due to the lower circulation of money in the economy, online poker, by contrast, witnessed a boom. One of the most underrated problems in finance is not earning money but rather money management. Playing poker professionally instills money management skills, since professional players calculate meticulously with their actions at the tables, which also comes as a handy life skill.
4. Do you play because you are addicted to poker ?
We all know the old adage that poker takes “5 minutes to learn, but a lifetime to master.” The poker lifestyle might look glorious, but the true professionals spend a large percentage of their time not just playing, but also studying to improve at the game. Generally speaking, success and making it as a pro don’t come without discipline and constant learning. Professional poker playing instead teaches one how to deal with anxiety, anger and money management. Developing healthy poker habits like this practically represent the opposite of a problematic addiction.
5. Isn’t gambling bad? Why do you put your money at stake ?
Gambling of course involves risk. To a degree, however, every business is gambling since no matter how sure or successful a business idea might sound, the probabilities of success are undetermined. Nevertheless, right estimation, judging the odds, fighting the probabilities and making the right move at the right time are secrets of successful business investment, like poker. While gambling and poker are used interchangeably, there exists a difference between the two. Gambling is a game of guessing bets, whereas poker is a game that factors in mathematical analyses of probabilities, which requires far more skill than random wagering. So, poker can be thought of as more of an investment than just putting money at stake.
The effort that goes into honing poker skills is as demanding as any other art form and requires deep understanding, dedication, discipline and sincerity towards the game. Professional poker play is a game that comes with great responsibility, since every minor mistake comes with a literal cost. So, next time someone negatively stereotypes you as a poker player, be sure to have the right words with which to answer them and break those stereotypes.