Should I go for poker pro?
If you have been playing online poker profitably for a while, it is tempting to consider making this poker game your full time job. Or if you have not yet started to play poker on the Internet yet, you may have heard of young kids making fortunes in the great card game of poker.
So how about going poker professional?
Obviously this is not a decision to be taken lightly, especially if you are young or if you have not yet finished your education, such as college or university students. Here are a few pointers to think about before making your decision.
Who can make it to be a poker pro?
Not to disappoint you from the beginning of this article, but poker is like any job with famous star performers or athletes, such as golf, tennis, acting, singing, etc. Only a small group of people makes it to the top, gaining fame and riches, while the majority is below them, some making a reasonable or just average income, some not earning enough to support their family. Ant they are all good.
Of course it is tempting to consider making poker your profession, as it feels like making money without working. No need to commute in the morning, to work every day of the week like a robot, to follow office politics, to stand a boss, etc. Just play for fun and money.
It is a personal choice, but the truth is that most people should indeed continue their normal life and play online poker only as a hobby.
What are the qualities that all star performers have in common?
What are the traits of top performers in all competitive activities such as poker?
You should have fun playing poker. Not just fun, but also this has to be your passion above anything else if you want to stand a chance to succeed. Phil Ivey, considered by many to be the best poker player ever, has said himself that he keeps on being passionate about the game of casino poker, and that as he probably plays more poker than most other top pros, this is one of the reasons why he stays at the top. So be ready to put the hours day in and day out.
Other traits are that in such competitive activity, you must dream big, like winning a few WSOP and WPT bracelets. Having a mediocre ambition is not enough a motivation. You have to believe in yourself also. If you do not think that you are a great player, then it is recommended to continue playing poker as a hobby until you are stronger.
It is not enough to be good at poker to pursue a career as a professional poker player. You must be great at it. One thing that most young players do not realize is that variance will catch up with you, even though you may be doing great in your current run. There will be a time when bad beats will follow bad beats, losses small and big will add up, and you will not have any tournament result to speak of.
This is one of the specific aspects of poker unlike other sports, you have to invest some of your money to play the game. During these unavoidable tough times, many pros become bankrupt. Or it could be for other reasons such as gambling losses. Even though Stu Ungar is believed to have won more than thirty million dollars at poker, he was broke most of his life.
So it is not enough to be good at poker to make a good poker professional. It is also crucial to have the fortitude and discipline to sustain the downswings and to avoid the temptations associated with the game. Surviving many years in the game like Doyle Brunson requires a character and mindset that few have, let alone poker skills.
Questions to ask yourself before turning pro
Do you have a plan? What is your bankroll? What will you do if you lose half of your bankroll? Will you move to lower limits in order to rebuild your reserve?
A famous poker pro who came in the limelight in 2009 is Tom "durrrr" Dwan. While it is too early to know if he will be able to maintain his early success on the poker scene as he is barely 20+, what is known is that he won about 5 million in 2008 and lost about the same amount in 2009.
If he had applied proper bankroll management principles in order to protect his fortune, he would have played at lower limits. But he only started doing that at the end of 2009 after prolonged losses. Furthermore he made headlines with his so-called "Million Dollar Challenges" against the best poker players in the World. But everyone in the poker community knows that these contests are negative expected value propositions for Tom Dwan.
We hope the best for Tom who after all is a great poker player. But he has shown a lack of the qualities necessary to survive in this cutthroat environment, starting with humility.
As a summary and beyond the obvious, only very few of the new poker pros will make the transition successfully. You need not just extraordinary talent, but mostly an iron will and a meticulous plan.