If you were growing up during the poker boom years and fell in love with the game at that time, you have probably fantasized about becoming a poker pro at one point or another.
Many of us have tried making a career in poker over the years, with varying degrees of success. Even today, young people discovering poker for the first time are often charmed by the idea of becoming poker professionals.
After all, the life of a pro player can seem perfect with all the traveling, free time, and the “easy money” one gets to make.
Yet, before you jump to any conclusions, there are some things you should know about what it is really like to be a poker pro and why the life is not as ideal as it may seem at first.
If you are considering going pro, these are the things I believe you should consider first. Make sure to keep them in mind before you make any final decision.
Poker Is Hard Work
Did you think that playing poker for a living was easy and you could just play whenever you wanted and still make the kind of money you would on a regular job? Think again!
No matter what anyone might tell you, poker is not an easy way to make a living.
It is a job like any other, if not even more difficult, in many aspects.
The rewards of being a successful poker player can be massive, but the risks you have to take along the way are also quite big.
What’s more, most people who try playing poker for a living fail at it.
The truth is that it takes a lot of hard work, commitment, and discipline to be a successful poker player. You will have to dedicate many hours every week to playing poker and just as many to studying the game and getting better at it.
Before you make any final career choices that would lead you down this path, make sure you have considered all your options and that you have a backup plan to lean on if poker doesn’t work out.
Poker Income Can Be Unstable
When you are on an upswing and doing well at the tables, making money at poker can seem like the easiest thing in the world. When things are reversed, it can seem like you will never win a single dollar again!
This remains the truth whether you play in the live arena or on some of the best online poker sites for which you can read reviews here. It’s still the same game.
Both of these extremes are just illusions, though, and your actual results will come somewhere in the middle between your upswings and downswings.
Since poker is such a swingy game, you can expect your bankroll to be going up and down quite a bit over time.
This means it can be hard to rely on poker to cover your daily expenses.
If you are seriously considering a career in poker, you should make sure to start with a bankroll that is sufficient to play the games you feel comfortable in but also cover your living costs for at least several months.
In poker, downswings can last a long time, and you need to be ready to keep up with your bills when things are not going too well at the tables. If you have to dip into your playing bankroll for this, you may never get a chance to move up the stakes.
Another thing I recommend for people just starting out as pro poker players is to dedicate some hours to a part-time job away from the tables. You can use that money to cover basic expenses so that you can use poker money to build the bankroll for bigger games.
A Career in Poker Requires Discipline
Learning how to play cards and beat the games you are playing in is not enough to be a professional poker player. You will also need a lot of discipline, which will come with time if you work hard on it.
Despite what you may think now, the ups and downs of your poker career will take their toll. You will have periods when you don’t feel like playing, as well as those when you will not be playing your best game.
As you go through these ups and downs, it is important to keep things in perspective, stick to good bankroll management, and always remember that this is your job and not your hobby. Things will work out in the end if you play well and retain your discipline.
You May Have Better Options
This is not very popular to say in poker circles, as most people consider the poker lifestyle to be so glamorous. But, the truth is that many people have better career options than being a poker player.
Not only is poker not the best paying job out there, especially when you just start out, but it is also not nearly the most stable career option you can have.
Depending on where you live and what kind of a skill set you have at your disposal, you may be much better off going to school and getting a job out in the real world.
There are even some interesting alternatives these days, such as getting involved with NFTs. This is an entirely different topic but an interesting one to look into, so if it tickles your fancy, check out this article.
Of course, I am not saying that playing poker professionally is not an appealing option, but trying other things and keeping your options open is always a good idea.
There Are No Guarantees
Even if you are a good player and you dedicate the time and remain disciplined, there is no guarantee that you will make it as a poker pro.
Poker has become very tough over the last several years, and the number of good games in which you can print money has significantly diminished.
Of course, if you do all the right things, you will have a good chance of success. Just understand that there are some very solid players out there who have failed at making a career out of poker.
Even some of the biggest names in poker today had failed a few times before they finally made it big. So, I recommend keeping your expectations realistic and taking it one step at a time if you are just starting in poker.