Career Checklist: How To Become a Professional Poker Player


Poker is a great pastime for enthusiastic amateurs, as well as being one of the only forms of gambling to also have an established professional scene.

This all comes down to the way that skill plays a role in determining the outcome of each hand that is played, meaning that experienced poker pros can reliably beat beginners without luck being the only factor involved.

If you have an ambition to become a professional poker player and be in with a chance of winning big prizes at televised tournaments, there are a few things you need to do first.

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Learn about the lifestyle of a poker pro

To get started, it is a good idea to get the lowdown on famous poker players and legends of the game so that you understand what is involved in the lifestyle of a pro.

This is important because obviously you need to make a major commitment to playing poker professionally, and if you find that it does not gel with your preferences, it could be a poisoned chalice.

The main things to take onboard is that while there are opportunities to make a fortune from poker, you could just as easily find yourself facing up to major losses. Also a career in poker can be a solitary one, since you will be spending much of your time either competing online or travelling for tournaments. If you are looking for the daily camaraderie of an office job, this isn’t it.

Start playing online

The barrier to entry for professional poker has been lowered significantly thanks to the advent of online casinos.

While in the past you could only make it in the scene by visiting land-based venues and entering a handful of high profile tournaments, the internet has opened up access to anyone with a compatible device and a network connection.

Of course if you are a total newbie, then it is a good idea not to play in cash games initially. There are lots of sites where you can play for free, which is worthwhile as you are learning your craft.

It is also worth keeping an eye on streaming services like Twitch, as lots of established players of poker stream their games live for audiences of all sizes. You can learn a lot just by watching how skilled masters think through hands and tackle tough situations, while also getting an idea of the kinds of mistakes that you should be avoiding as well.

Eventually it will be necessary to start putting actual money on the line when playing at web-based casinos, because of course your decision-making will be very different if you are really taking risks with hard-earned currency. Even so, it is sensible to start slow and build up as your confidence and experience grows.

Build a bankroll and enter tournaments

Facing off against whichever random people are grouped together in online poker rooms is all well and good, but this will only be helpful in the short term. Eventually you will need to bite the bullet and get involved in organized tournaments so that you can see how well you stand up compared to skilled amateurs and full-blown professionals.

Again there are lots of poker tournaments that are hosted entirely online, and you could even win entry into one just by playing on the site that is hosting it regularly. However, there are different rules and requirements in place at each casino site, so check carefully to ensure you are eligible to avoid disappointment.

Typically you will need to set aside cash to fund your tournament exploits, and this bankroll will in part be dictated by the buy-in that is necessitated by the event’s organizers, and in part by your budget.

This brings us onto the most important point on building a career in poker; you will need to both have access to cash to put down as you get started, and also be willing to wager that cash in the knowledge that you could lose it.

As such, the vast majority of poker players who make a living from the tables both online and off have started out as amateurs and undergone peaks and troughs on their way to greatness.

So there you have it; professional poker is not a career for the faint hearted or for those who have any doubts about their skills. If you have the ability and the funds to dedicate to it, then it might be very rewarding.

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