Be your own boss? Work from home? Earn thousands of dollars? Travel the world? Yes, that all sounds great, but stop right there for a moment. Like any other profession or discipline, poker requires a deep and genuine commitment to learning everything related to it, and if you´re not willing to do this let me tell you that you are only focusing on one side of the coin.
Becoming a professional online poker player is not for everyone. More often than not, you only see the glamorous life of poker players, but not necessarily what it takes to get there (and with a very good reason). Certain qualities and skills are needed in order to make money consistently and this could easily scare a lot of “potential customers” for the online poker industry. But don’t take this the wrong way. By default, everyone is capable of becoming a professional online poker player.
Let’s repeat that.
EVERYONE IS CAPABLE OF DOING IT!
With that said, here are seven of the most important tips and pieces of advice to be considered before even thinking about becoming an online poker pro!
RESEARCH, STUDY, REVIEW, ANALYZE, TAKE NOTES, & ADJUST
This is perhaps one of the most underrated aspects of a professional poker life by most recreational/new players. Usually, only a change in attitude is needed. People need to visualize as if they were still a student looking to get the highest grade at the end of the year. The big difference is that at school, at the end of the test studying stopped. As a poker player, that never ends. PERIOD! Poker is a game of situations, NOT CARDS. In order to be successful at the tables, you need to be familiar with as many situations as possible so when the time comes to make a decision you are ready to make the best one.
This is why dedicating time to research is very important in order to help you become an even better poker player. Try to take some time to go over extensive reviews of poker sites, which will help you find the right poker site for you and your particular style of play. Also, check hand histories, breaking down spots and analyzing them, run simulations, and discuss hands with other poker players. Doing this on a regular basis is one of the most critical and important aspects of any online poker pro.
INVEST IN DEVELOPMENT
After almost 20 years, there is still a debate about whether using aid programs is effective or not. Let’s not go into detail here on that subject. What is important to know is what is considered correct by the majority of poker pros out there.
Third-party programs shorten the development and study time of any player. It’s really that simple! So, it is highly recommended to purchase good poker software.
If you want to go the HUD (heads-up display) route, PokerTracker (PT4) and Holdem Manager (HM2) are your best bets. Generally, PT4 is used by tournament (MTTs) and Sit & Go (SNGs) players while HM2 is used by cash game players. Both programs offer a free trial period.
HUD or no HUD, a study and analysis tool is also a MUST! Programs like ICMizer (mostly for MTTs and SNGs) and Flopzilla are considered to be must-have tools for any online poker player who wants to become a professional. There are other more advanced programs, like PioSolver and Pokersnowie, for more experienced and advanced players.
Lastly, getting a mentor, regular coaching from a proven winner, or enrolling in one of the best poker training courses is something that will never get old. If the resources are available, by all means, take this into account. Getting study tips and guidance is invaluable, especially if you’ve already mastered the basics and fundamentals of the game.
TAKE CARE OF YOUR BODY AS WELL AS YOUR MIND (MINDSET)
This is another underrated “secret” of any successful online poker pro. Considering the enormous amount of time dedicated to poker, both on and off the virtual felt, taking care of the body and (above all) the mind is something crucial and critical for the sustainability and consistency of positive results.
Poker players are NOT robots!
So, it is important that you stop kidding yourself into believing you don´t need exercise regularly and sustain a healthy lifestyle in order to play poker. In particular, having the correct mindset is vital in order to succeed in anything in life; poker is no exception. Perhaps one of the most misunderstood and critical concepts that the vast majority of recreational players find harder to assimilate is VARIANCE. There are amazing books out there that will show the proper mindset needed to have at all times. In that respect, The Mental Game of Poker (1 and 2) and The Poker Mindset are among the best mandatory poker reading material.
BUILD A DISTRACTION-FREE ZONE
Having the ability to analyze all the variables present in a poker hand in quick order requires that you place yourself in the best possible situation to do so. This means eliminating everything that takes your attention away from the game. This will vary for each person, but it has been found that turning off your cellphone, placing background music (low volume), taking occasional breaks, and closing other tabs on your computer is a great way to start.
Basically, if you want to “get in the zone”, you need to give yourself the best possible opportunity to enter said zone.
PLAY THE RIGHT FORMAT AND GAMES (LADDER UP IN STAKES)
There are many people who play in tournaments because it is the format they watch most on TV and, obviously, the idea of winning hundreds of thousands of dollars attracts them. But if you want to be a professional online poker player you need to make sure you play the format you and where you feel most comfortable. It could take you some time to figure out what format best suits you and your poker game, so be sure to have patience while you figure things out.
You can make money playing any online poker format professionally; each one is unique, of course. Tournaments, for example, have more variance and financial instability. So, be prepared for the expected results of your chosen poker format.
BUILD YOUR BANKROLL AND LIFE-ROLL SEPARATELY (AND MANAGE THEM PROPERLY)
Many professional poker players only focus on their poker bankroll and totally forget about their life-roll; or, in some cases, they mix the two. Building and maintaining these two bankrolls is vitally important, and managing both bankrolls properly requires a lot of discipline. It is easy to get carried away by the possibility of winning or recovering from a losing session, by playing at higher stakes or “outside your bankroll”. Sometimes players can think their ability or talent (often exaggerated) protects them against variance. But, the fact of the matter is that, no matter how experienced an online poker player is, nobody escapes it regardless of how good they are.
BE CONSISTENT & DISCIPLINED
None of the above tips really matter if the poker player in question is not disciplined and consistent in applying them. They must become the personal strategic core. Everything else is optional. Consistency and discipline, on the other hand, are NON-NEGOTIABLE!
So there it is.
If you’ve been playing online poker for a while and are looking to take your game to a professional level, then we advise you heed the above advice. Becoming a professional poker player is never going to be easy and requires a lot of hard work and dedication. Like most other things in life, if you’re not ready to put in the work, you shouldn’t expect positive results. So you certainly should forget about trying to go pro if you’re not prepared to work for that kind of lifestyle.