The Path From Beginner to Professional Online Poker Player

Fancy yourself a dab hand at cards? If you regularly clean up at poker nights with your friends or win consistently when you play at land-based or online casinos, you may wonder if professional poker is for you.

Being an online pro is similar in many ways to gambling for a living in land-based casinos – there are definite dos and don’ts which remain constant.

You’ll need to be disciplined, organized and diligent, especially with your finances. Playing poker to pay your rent and bills is a major undertaking, and not one to be taken lightly.

But, if you have a cool head, excellent tactical nous, and a little luck on your side, playing poker professionally can be an exciting and lucrative way to make money.

Here are some things to take into account if you’re interested in being a professional online poker player.

Why pro poker?

This is the first question to ask yourself – why do I want to be a professional poker player?

If the answer is mainly to do with the idea of winning huge sums of money without having to do a 9-5 job, or traveling the world entering tournaments, you should probably reassess.

Not only is professional poker extremely hard work – as we’ll find out – the returns are not guaranteed, especially at the start. If you have a genuine passion for poker, have sharp and intuitive skills, calmness under pressure, and the time and motivation to work really hard, then you might just make it as a pro.

Are you ready?

Being a professional online poker player is very different from simply playing online or with friends for fun (and a bit of cash).

You have to remember that your winnings pay your rent, bills, food, and other expenses.

If you don’t win regularly when you play, or if you don’t have much experience beyond a few casual hands every now and then, don’t quit your day job just yet.

Pick a variation (and stick to it)

There are plenty of variations available to play – and even more so when you are playing poker online. Of course, the most popular variants are community card games – Texas Hold’em and Omaha Hold’em – as well as draw poker and stud poker.

But you’ll also find more obscure games such as Countdown, Five-O and Chinese Poker at many online casinos. Whatever variant favors your style, it is good practice to study it, and stick to it.

Learning new variants tends to diminish your prowess overall – jack of all trades, master of none, as the saying goes.

Study & research

This is where the real hard work comes in, but this is work that will lay the foundation for your success as a pro online player.

All professionals spend hours analyzing their games, looking for weaknesses in tactics or wagering. It is also worth studying other professional games, depending on what information you can get hold of.

A good poker player never stops trying to learn and absorb information. And staying up to date with reviews and guides will help you find the best places to play online, with games in your chosen variant.

These guides will also help you find sites with the best odds or promotions and bonuses.

Training

You need to play every day to make it like a pro. It may be that you want to play for cash each time, but if you’re having a bad run – or if you don’t need to – use your time to brush up your skills.

There are plenty of software options to help you prepare for the card tables, such as PokerTracker and Holdem Manager – these deal with all aspects of the pro game.

You’ll also need an analysis tool, such as Flopzilla. Once you’ve mastered the rules of your chosen variant, consider finding a mentor or coach – you’ll be able to locate one online. There are also pro poker training courses available in many areas.

It may sound strange, but as well as poker training, staying fit and healthy also helps pro players – your body and mind will be sharper and your decision making will improve if you stay active.

Bankroll and finances

Pro poker is different from casual poker in many ways, but the financial differences are the starkest. Most casual players use money they’ve set aside for entertainment to gamble with.

Professionals need to make money at the card tables to live, so the dynamic is very different. Efficient and realistic bankroll management is a must, as well as constant monitoring of winnings and losses.

Many professionals separate their savings into ‘bankroll’ and ‘life roll’ – that means each time you log on you have peace of mind that there is money in the bank for the essentials of life.

Making a living as a professional online poker player isn’t for everyone – not those who like having a regular paycheck and two holidays a year. But it can be an exhilarating and lucrative career choice if you have the temperament and energy to sink into it.

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