You need only look at the social media accounts of any pro poker player to see what kind of lives they live.
Professional poker players, like Dan Bilzerian, the poster child of the career, are notorious for being over the top and flashing huge amounts of cash around.
Like any career, it takes some dedication to the craft and a good amount of luck to make it big. Let’s have a look at some ways you can start along your journey to making it in the professional poker scene.
Learn to Play the Game, Obviously
Most people who don’t play or follow the game think that poker is a lot of luck and doesn’t have much to do with how good you are at the game.
While of course there is some luck involved, there is also a very high skill ceiling, and learning how to play the game properly is your first step.
Professionals will practice, learn, craft theories and strategies, and continue to keep up to date on new trends and playing styles in the world of poker, and if you’re going to hope to make it big, you should too.
A great way to get familiar with some of both the technical and intrapersonal skills you’ll also need is to study and watch some of the greats of the game.
Watch a lot of professional pokers and pick up some tips and tricks on the way they act and play.
Know When to Bluff and When to Fold
Apart from being very familiar with the rules of the variations of the game, you should also get to know some of the more nuanced things about playing poker.
One of the biggest parts of the game, and indeed in almost all professional games, that can win you or lose you competitions, is your ability to bluff.
Predictability is your enemy as a poker player, and nothing is easier for your opponents to pick up on than if you’re as predictable as simply betting high with good cards and folding with bad cards.
Getting familiar with the incredibly thin line of knowing when and when not to bluff, and not overusing the bluff is probably one of the most important skills in the game.
Along with knowing when to call and when to bet. Poker players call this playing the positive expected value.
Never Trust Anyone You’re Playing Against
Poker is not a quick game usually. Games or competitions can last many, many hours. Keeping yourself in the game is often just a test of mental fortitude and your ability to stay alert and keep concentrating for hours on end.
Great poker players know this and use it to their advantage. They’ll watch for lapses in your concentration and they’ll use these moments to strike or to quietly pull ahead.
Watch for these moments of lost concentration in your opponents too – but don’t always trust that they’re not just bluffing this too!
Learning not to trust your opponents in anything they say or do is a skill that all the great professional poker players have mastered.
There are usually two games going on at a poker table – the one being played with cards and the other being played with each other.
Don’t be afraid to use any method of maintaining focus, including things outside of the game, like eating or drinking (non-alcoholic) drinks. Listening to music or reading is another popular way of taking a moment to refocus yourself on the game.
Scale Up the Game and the Money Over Time
You don’t jump into a bath until you’ve felt the water temperature. This is the same way you shouldn’t jump into a high stakes poker game until you’ve spent significant time honing your craft in smaller games before you jump into the high-stake ones.
There’s another learned skill in both managing your bankroll and deciding which games to play and which games not to play.
These two things often go hand in hand, because you need to know how far you can push your cash and what kinds of games you should join because of it.
Responsible gambling isn’t just for non-professional players – you need to gamble within the boundaries of your bankroll as a professional poker player too.
Just like any job, you’re going to spend many hours and you’re probably going to lose more often than you win when you start out.
If you have your heart set on the professional poker circuit, don’t give up and keep playing those smaller games and experimenting with the type of poker you play until you’ve built up your skills.
Soon, if you have the knack for the game and put in the time needed, you might just be sitting at the tables in the big games, facing down against the poker pros you’ve spent your life admiring.