Poker is like a Unicorn that everyone is trying to ride, and has been getting tougher year on year for as long as I can remember.
The online and offline pool has only been growing astronomically every year since 2010 since the poker fever gripped India. Some legends were born, some created, some destroyed and some faded away with time. But the dream of making it big in poker hasn’t changed.
Poker has now taken an interesting turn after success stories of certain individuals who have acquired acclaim, fame, and the moolah in a very short span of time, that some can only some CEO’s and CXO’s make after putting in decades of hard work and time. So this brings us to a very important question that every 22-year old who wants to be the next WSOP champion is asking himself. Can poker be a career option? Can I make a living out of poker? Is it worth striving for?
The short and sweet answer is yes. It is possible to make a living playing poker professionally in 2016, and many players are doing so, but it is not an easy road. No one said it would be, but what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger. That said, players need to be a lot more focused and must cut out all of the bad habits that they could have gotten away with in the past.
This article is going to highlight some of the things you can do if you are looking to make poker your profession be it live, online, or both. Certain skills and disciplines are meant to be cultivated for the same.
BE PRACTICAL – KEEP IT REAL
Poker players seem to think that they’re all “Tom Gone’s” or “Feel like Ivey’s” and can sit down in any game and kill the table. The reality is that this is only the case for very few elite players. You have to be honest to yourself about your skills and abilities. Are you a tournament player or a cash player, what is the bankroll you can afford, what stakes it permits you to play? If you are a tournament player, live or online, are you absolutely certain you should be playing the millionaire or get a rich race or all the high investment high return tournaments? For the live players, should you really be jumping in every 2.5,5,10 & 25k game on the planet?
A lot of players at every level are probably playing some tournaments where they’re not as big and favorite as they would like to think they are, and in all honesty, some of us have no business playing some of the games we do. For tournament players, this is actually pretty simple. Find your comfort zone. Look closely at past results, you will soon find some games to take out of your schedule.
There is so much choice nowadays that we can hop into multiple MTT’s instead of the Sunday High Roller tournaments a couple of mid-stakes tournaments online instead. Those will have bigger fields but your expectation and ROI will be much higher.
Cash players have the same problem, but identifying it is far more difficult. Let’s say you’re a 25/50 player and you have a decent win rate over a large sample. You would think that you can just jump in any 50/100 game right? Wrong!
The truth is, every 50/100 game is different. If you have a bad position or a really tough table, your win rate will decline dramatically and in extreme cases, you may be “THE FISH”. There is no shame in leaving the table and looking for another or even dropping shifting down gears in stakes if there are not any good games available at your usual stake.
LESS IS MORE – CHOOSE YOUR TABLES WISELY
Multi-tabling to beat the variance or becoming a rake back pro was a realistic possibility sometime back. You could simply learn basic strategy, study some charts, and load up table after table until you dint know what was happening anymore..
You can play a very bot-like game and break even at the tables. This was enough because monthly rake back payments would follow. It was not unheard of for players to get close to 40% rake back and live off that payment each and every month providing they got enough hands in.
Doesn’t sound like much fun to me, but it worked for many and it certainly beats 9 to 5 jobs.
Those days are pretty much behind us now. Sites are tightening their belts and becoming stingy with rake-back and bonuses. There are multiple clauses in fine prints that we don’t read. 30x to 50X rake generations, locked non withdrawal bonuses, and much more. Have you heard the cliché There ain’t no free lunches honey? well, here it is.
Screw quantity chooses Quality. I would now advise lowering the number of tables you play. Instead, really focus on every decision you make, take lots of notes and you will be surprised at how quickly you improve. Your game, and allow you to move up the stakes much quicker.
STUDY – 2+2=4
The days of being able to just show up at a poker game and play roulette poker and book a win are long gone, my friends. The game has evolved and you have absolutely no chance of cashing out on any stake for a long period of time without learning and evolving in your game. The introduction of training sites, mentors, books, and more coaches in the market has brought about a sharp increase in the average skill level.
Sign up to a training site
If you are looking at making a career out of Poker then signing up on one of the training sites is no biggie.
Usually, it doesn’t cost you more than a miscalculated 3 bet or a stupid All-in trying to bluff your opponents.
Make sure you do not just sit and just watch the videos, you will get nothing from that. Pay close attention, take notes, and when done go to the tables and try and implement something you have just learned.
Revisit videos over time and make sure you understand the concept completely. Review hands that you have played to match the videos, and see how you could have played your hand differently. The majority of training sites have great forums too. Use them, they are much more focused than some of the other forums you may be accustomed to.
Get involved on the forums
I am going to go ahead and assume anybody who is considering a career is a member of a forum, but do you use it to its potential or just use it to collect and create gossip?
It is true that the number of trolls far outweigh the superior posters, but you will find the required talent on these sites that can answer your questions. Ignore the trollers and listen to the PROS they are called PROS for a reason
Many players meet likeminded individuals on the forums and soon migrate over to a private Skype group to talk strategy. I simply can’t explain how much of an impact talking poker with other good players have on your game. It is huge. Just listen to a few ‘what’s your poker story’ interviews and see how approachable top pros are to help other like-minded enthusiasts to improve their game. Make sure you give them their due credit of publicity.
Hire Professional Help
This might or might not be necessary depending on where you are in your poker career and affordability factor, but if you have gone through all of the other steps and feel like you’ve hit a wall, then you should consider hiring a poker coach to help unlock your full potential.
Quality coaching does not come cheap, so make sure you’re ready to take full advantage of it and do your research. Really good coaches are few and far between.
Once you have found a coach, approach them for a sample lesson or at the very least have a good discussion with them first to make sure your thoughts on the game are aligned. When your sessions come around, make sure you are armed with a bunch of questions and are ready to make the most out of the time.
The majority of players who have had coaching or mentorship have had extremely positive experiences with coaching and would definitely recommend it.
Many smart professionals who have had some big wins in their careers have invested that money, be it in stocks, property, or business. This is a very wise move and helps them to fully relax at the tables knowing they have something to fall back on if it goes wrong.
One final thought for those of you who are not professional but would love to be one day: I would say keep playing the game you love. Poker has been on the decline for a long time, but with regulation finally starting to happen all over the world, more and more people are going to pick up the game. Keep your game sharp and take full advantage. Are you ready to be the next Chris moneymaker when the next opportunity arrives?