How to Make the Switch from Amateur to Professional Poker Player

By Marcus Harmon
December 12, 2022

The transition from an amateur to a professional poker player is exciting and daunting. It requires dedication, focus, skill, luck, and more. Making the switch will require you to understand the differences between an amateur and a professional poker player so that you can make the most of your new career. In this article we’ll discuss what it takes to become a competitive pro by looking at aspects such as the psychological skills needed, bankrolls required for different buy-ins, gaining experience from video poker games, and some of the obstacles encountered as a professional poker player.

poker chip

What is an Amateur Poker Player?

Amateur poker players play primarily for recreational purposes or personal gain without relying heavily on their winnings to support themselves financially. Amateurs may participate in tournaments or cash games but are not usually regulars in any particular venue or game type. They have limited knowledge of strategy or tactics compared to professional players but occasionally enjoy playing the game with friends or family members.

What is a Professional Poker Player?

A professional poker player regularly plays to generate income through tournament wins or cash game profits. Pros are well-versed in strategy and tactics and play according to optimal strategies rather than relying solely on luck when playing against other experienced professionals. Professional players also invest time in researching opponents before entering tournaments or cash games to predict better how those opponents might play their hands in certain situations.

To be considered a competitive pro requires much more than just good card skills; it requires dedication, hard work, and discipline too. Firstly, one must master various strategies, such as pot odds calculation methods and bluffing techniques, which will give you an edge over your opponents at all levels of play. This is true across multiple formats, including no-limit Texas Hold ’em (N.L.H.E.), Omaha hi/lo (Omaha8), as well as mixed-game formats like H.O.S.E. (Hold ‘em/Omaha/Stud/Razz).

Plus, having good money management skills will ensure that losses stay manageable. Managing stress levels during big events like W.S.O.P. Main Event final tables can make all the difference between success and failure here too. Lastly, having psychological skills such as reading opponent tells accurately during live-action play provides another layer of advantage. Many pros rely upon this when making decisions over long hours at the table. This includes anything from noticing physical body language cues right down to betting patterns used by opponents under pressure.

Can you Gain any Valuable Experience from Playing Video Poker?

Yes, indeed – video poker provides great practice opportunities since these games simulate real-life scenarios almost identically. Put differently; you can hone your skills using virtual money. This has allowed many aspiring pros to improve quickly without risking huge amounts upfront – moreover, some variants offer progressive jackpots, which add extra excitement & reward potential. There’s nothing quite like hitting a Royal Flushes or a Straight Flushes at maximum bet levels.

What Type of Bankroll do you Need to Compete at High-Stakes Buy-Ins?

Aspiring pros should aim for having around 200x times their highest buy-in amount available if they intend on competing at higher stakes tournaments. This is true for online or live poker games. This type of bankroll can cover players for variance swings across multiple sessions where bad beats occur. Let’s say you plan on playing $500 NLHE MTTs, then you should have approximately $100k set aside beforehand. SNGs & Free Rolls require less capital mainly because fewer entries per event result in lower overall prize pools; however, still, expect around 50x times your maximum buy-in amount to be necessary here too!

What are the Biggest Obstacles for a Professional Poker Player?

One major obstacle faced by aspiring pros involves finding ways to stay disciplined when things start going wrong. Things like tilt affect us all sometimes, so learning how best to counter its effects whilst remaining focused on improving our game every day helps tremendously. As you move along this poker journey towards becoming successful fulltime grinders, you will need to stay on point.

Another challenge often arises with managing finances correctly since winning streaks frequently come & go. It’s possible to generate large sums within short periods. Take the time to understand tax laws and investing wisely; this will help you maintain stability during these volatile times ensuring long-term solvency regardless of outcomes.

Finally, there’s always staying motivated mentally whenever bad beats become prevalent. Remember that maintaining enthusiasm ultimately leads us closer towards achieving our objectives. It’s largely thanks to sheer determination and smart decision-making that poker players can inch toward greatness.


Transitioning from an amateur to becoming a profitable professional is challenging by any stretch. Yet, those willing put forth effort consistently stand a far greater chance of succeeding once goals are outlined and followed diligently enough. Put in the time, master your bankroll, and carefully pick your battles in poker. The rest is simply the luck of the draw!



Sign up
Marcus Harmon poker author
Written By.

Marcus Harmon

Marcus Harmon is a poker writer and editor of Sunshine Poker Rooms, a poker news and information source. With a decade of experience in the online gaming industry, Marcus has been lucky enough to have met and indeed been beaten by some of the great players. His other passions are soccer and travel.

Latest Post


Mixed Game Festival VIII

Pokercoaching All Access

Mixed Game Plaques

WPTGlobal Welcome Offer

Don’t miss our top stories, exclusive offers and giveaways!