How to Be a Professional Poker Player: Learn to Play Poker Like a Pro!

7 Sep 2020

How to Be a Professional Poker Player: Learn to Play Poker Like a Pro!

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Want to know how to become a professional poker player? Poker can be a very lucrative career, and congrats on taking the first step. If you make it, you could earn millions in a single year.

Poker is, of course, a game that requires a combination of strategy, skill and risk. There are plenty of tournaments to enter where the stakes are high, and plenty of poker players to pit your wits against. Get it right and the rewards are huge.

Getting it right and becoming a professional poker player takes time, effort and a keen desire to learn.

In this article, we’ve put together a strategy that will help you learn how to become a professional poker player so that you can turn a hobby into an exciting lifestyle.

Take the Time to Understand the Poker Game

If you’ve always “dabbled” with a bit of poker with the boys, you might have some experience of the game – but do you have enough? 

Professional poker players all started out like you, playing with the boys on a Friday night into the early hours, beers and cigars on tap. 

But while anyone can dip in and out of a bit of poker like this, in order to become a professional you have to really understand the game. 

Watch poker tournaments on TV. ESPN screen them. Read books and interviews with the top pros. Download guides. Really get into the whole world of poker – immerse yourself in it. 

Practice Playing Poker

It doesn’t matter which sport you want to get good at it, the best way to get good at anything is to practice, practice, practice. 

It’s like Aristotle said – “we are what we do repeatedly.” 

It’s important that you take the time to understand the game, but it’s also key that you get in the trenches and practice by playing a lot of poker games.

You could play with your buddies, either for practice or for money, or you could play online poker. Again, you could play online poker for real money, or you could just play it for practice. 

Play Winning Hands Only in Poker

One mistake that amateur poker players make that professional poker players don’t is they don’t quite know which hands they should play – and when they should fold.

There’s no need to play every hand, and there’s also no need to try too hard to win all the time, at least at this stage. You’re not going to win every game you participate in, and trying too hard could result in heavy losses. 

For now, play only those hands which will give you the best chance of winning. 

Play Against Different Types of Poker Players

It’s not a good idea that you play poker with the same mates over and over again. In order to get really good at poker so that you’ve got a shot at becoming a professional poker player, you need to leave your comfort zone and try your hand at different types of poker players. 

For example, square up against poker players you can read, as well as poker players you can’t read. Have a game against poker players who don’t have a strategy, as well as those who do. 

You need to pit your wits against very good pro players, too. If your mates don’t challenge you enough, it’s time to find players who test your mettle. Otherwise, how will you know how you react under intense pressure? How will you know how much you can take before you show your hand or crumble? 

Managing anxiety is key to becoming a professional poker player, and you need to learn how to do this before having your shot at the big time. 

Moreover, once you start seeing poker as your primary source of income, you’ll need to widen your approach on the poker circuit. Once you start winning, you won’t be able to play the same folks over and over again. Instead, you’ll need to seek out people who have never heard of you, and who are willing to play you. This will all help in becoming a professional poker player

Try Different Types of Poker Games

They say variety is the spice of life, and it’s really important that you learn the fundamentals of different types of poker games. While it might be tempting to play Texas Hold ‘Em every Friday night with the boys, it’s much better that you improve your skills by trying different games. 

Give 7-card draw and 5-card draw a go. Play Omaha, too. There are all kinds of tournaments out there, and you want to get good at as many games as you can. 

Study the Top Poker Players

You know what the top poker players who play poker for a living do really well? They bluff. They bluff superbly

There have been numerous instances of great poker bluffs throughout the last few years. One of the best was Chris Moneymaker’s infamous bluff versus Sam Farha. Moneymaker had balls, and it’s often the dude who has the biggest balls that has the best hand. In this match, he could only win by bluffing the river or hitting his pot. He bluffed expertly. 

If you want to become a professional poker player, you need to spend some time studying the top players. Read up about them and watch clips of their games. 

Understand Your Bankroll

How much cash do you need to play the game so that you can play poker for a living? This is your bankroll and there are two types:

  • No-limit Poker bankroll – This bankroll has no set standard. If you decide to take part in a $500 maximum buy-in game to profit, you’ll need to have a bankroll of $12,500. 
  • Limit Poker bankroll – 300 big bets tends to be the most popular number used for this type of poker. Once you’ve determined the stakes needed to play in order to make the kind of dollar you’re looking for, you need to figure out an earn rate of a big bet per hour. Multiply this by 300. For example, if your big bet is $40 and you’re playing $20 max, your earn rate will be $1,600, which leaves you needing a bankroll of $12,000. 

The main point to takeaway here is that both bankrolls I’ve listed are pretty high for new poker players. As such, if you want to become a professional poker player, you have to put together that initial capital that allows you to actually play … and that allows you to take a beating.

Because as they say in Goodfellas, everybody takes a beating now and then. 

For No-Limit Hold’em, you’ll need 25-40 buy-ins – at least. For games like Pot-Limit Omaha, you’ll need a lot more. 

Some professional poker players started out by borrowing cash off friends and family on the understanding that they’d pay them back once they started winning. But this tactic is itself risky as there’s no guarantee you’ll win enough so as to be able to pay them back. 

Be Responsible While Playing Poker

As well as understanding your bankroll, you have to be responsible with it. Becoming a professional poker player isn’t easy because so many gamblers ultimately lose because they aren’t responsible with their money. They lose one bet and then another – and then suffer heavy losses as they try to win their money back. 

If you want to become a professional poker player, you have to know when it’s time to quit for the night. Know your limits, know the rules, and be responsible with your gambling. All successful professional poker players are gamblers, but they’re also super disciplined, too. 

Learn How to Manage Fatigue

One thing that professional poker players do well is they manage their fatigue.

This isn’t something that’s totally true of wannabe poker players who are at your level right now. 

Because the thing with poker is that it’s very demanding. If you’re playing it online, it means long stretches of hours staring at a screen. You start a game at 8pm and you’re still playing at 6am. Once fatigue sets in, mistakes are made. 

There are a few ways to manage fatigue, such as improving your diet, getting more sleep, taking catnaps, cutting out alcohol and exercising. But when you’re super, super exhausted, it’s a smart idea to take a few days break from playing poker in order to recharge.

Final Takeaway on How to Play Poker Like a Pro

This is how to become a professional poker player in a few steps. 

Whatever your exact dreams are as you bid to become a professional poker player, there is nothing but hard work ahead of you now! Professional poker players put in hundreds of thousands of hours playing the game; understanding it, reading it, and getting better at it.

Even after all that hard work, you still might not have attained the level you want. But like anything in life, it’s well worth a shot. Use the tips in this article to improve your chances of success – and good luck.