Poker as a profession sounds so amazing and exciting that most people actually forget and don’t even think about it twice. After all, when you play professionally there is none who is your boss. Finally you are your own boss and can work whenever you prefer. None will ever judge you apart from yourself and it all really seems like a dream. There seemingly is no limit to how much money can be earned playing poker, be it online or at a land based casino. Well, if you’re a wannabe poker superstar, please keep on reading.
I don’t really want to crush this beautiful dream and your illusions, but being a professional poker player is much harder than you might think. Lets take a step by step guide through everything you need to know before even considering a career in poker.
Stress & Uncertainty
You might not realize this, but poker is a source of stress. Most players are constantly stressed simply because there’s so much uncertainty in poker. You are never guaranteed to win in a single day, week or even a month. Bad runs can happen and you are not one of a kind, saved from variance that is.
There are obviously some rules that will help you to minimize the stress and uncertainty, but before going any further, you should determine whether you are that kind of a person. One that can handle living a pretty stressful lifestyle.
Where does all that stress and uncertainty come from? It’s all because poker is a game of incomplete information. Now I’m not referring to the actual gameplay and making any kind of decision, but to the results. Even the greatest players are constantly questioning themselves, mostly when experiencing a losing streak. Can I still beat the game? What if I am unable to win any money for the next 3 months? Even worse, what if I lose a lot of money? These are questions that tend to make appearance in minds of professional poker players.
When you are working a regular 9-5 job, it all is pretty simple. You are guaranteed a monthly paycheck and you can always account on receiving it. That’s not what poker is at all. You might want to picture a sales job in a very tough market and one that only pays you commission instead of a monthly salary. Unless you are a great salesman, you will often earn nada. It’s very similar with poker.
Understanding EV (Expected Value)
EV or expected value is something you’ll constantly hear about, if you decide to or already are involved in the poker world. This term refers to your mathematical chance of winning any particular hand. So if you are a 80% favorite in a hand where 2 players went all in on the flop, you will win 80 times out of 100. You’ll still lose 20 though. All of this obviously does not occur in any kind of sequence. You won’t win 4 times in a row and then lose one, but you surely can lose 5 times in a row at times!
Of course, you should be very happy about getting all the money in as an 80% favorite. Poker is a longterm game and whoever is the better player will win money over a period of time. That’s the truth, even given that short term variance is very painful to take at times.
Dealing With Variance
There’s no magic trick for dealing with variance and no player in the world is saved from it. What you can do is take proper precaution and get yourself and your bankroll in shape for these.
One aspect that most unexperienced players overlook is tableselecting. YES, this is also a tool that will help you to lower swings, a powerful one of that. You see, poker is all about edges and if two great players play together, their edges will be very thin. Small edge accounts for what? Large deviation in expected value, as you will often get all the money in as a 60% favorite or less.
Search for soft games that are packed with weak, unexperienced players. That way your edge will be huge and thus, swings will be way easier to handle.
Another great way and a way of preparation for variance is bankroll management. I always suggest everyone to be extra careful. Does being broke really sound better than being careful? Well, not to me. Always have more than enough buy-ins for the games you play and at least 3-4 month living expenses set completely aside. Trust me, you will be very happy that you decided to follow this advice.
Still Want To Play Poker Professionally?
So you are still excited about the idea of becoming a ‘pro’? If so, this might really be something for you. There is a great amount of advantages for this lifestyle, but it definitely is not for everyone. I’d like you to think about everything you just learned and try to conspect it by creating a sheet of pros and cons. That way will be able to clearly see the good and bad for this life and type of career.