Playing poker for a living seems like a dream come true for many. The freedom that comes with playing poker, alongside almost unlimited financial opportunities, make poker a very appealing career choice. However, the grass is always greener on the other side.
Being a professional poker player comes with various challenges. Leaving the safety of a regular job for the uncertainty that comes with playing cards to make ends meet isn’t a decision you should make lightly. If this is something you’ve been thinking about, check out these top 10 signs you are ready to go from recreational player to professional and see how many of these boxes you check off.
You are a proven winning player
The first thing you need to consider before even thinking about taking poker on full-time is whether or not you’re an actual winner. We all like to think about ourselves as good players but if you’re about to make a choice that could impact your entire life, you should be completely certain about this point.
If you’ve been playing online, you can easily check your results, whether locally with the help of poker software or online, using one of tracking sites out there. You need to be a winning player over a large sample in whatever game format you prefer to play. If your results aren’t in the black, or you’ve only been playing for a short while, you should probably hold on and play some more to create a meaningful sample.
Your bankroll is big enough
For professional poker players, bankrolls are the tools of the trade. While recreational players can enjoy the luxury of losing money and then replenishing losses using money they earned working their regular jobs, professionals don’t have that advantage.
Before you decide to switch to poker full-time, make sure you have enough money set aside for whatever it is you’re planning to play. If you don’t feel you’re there yet, don’t rush it. Take time to build that bankroll up to give yourself the best shot at success when you eventually do take the plunge.
You enjoy playing poker
It is one thing to play for fun and a completely different thing to play poker for a living. Once you make the switch, poker will become your bread and butter and you’ll have to play almost every day. If you really enjoy poker and see it as something you could do six or even seven days a week, then you have a good starting point to make the transition.
You approach the game in a serious manner
Good poker players aren’t born – they’re made. Although natural talent is always an advantage, the only way to succeed as a professional is if you constantly work on improving your game and staying ahead of the competition. If you’re someone who loves studying and enjoys various poker training programs, you might be ready to go full time.
You have some money on the side
One thing that you should really have before you move to poker full-time is some money stored on the side. Even if you have a big bankroll and are a good player, things sometimes can go sideways and you don’t want to have to dip into your bankroll just to cover your day-to-day costs. So, ideally, before you move to poker full-time, you should have at least six months of your basic costs covered to give yourself the best shot.
You’re ready for the changes
Switching to poker full-time will entail some big changes in your life and you should be ready for those. You can read up about it on various poker forums and even ask some of the people you know (if you have any friends who play poker for a living). These changes are quite significant as you’ll need to organize your own schedule, pick the best poker sites to play on, and have the ability to stick to the grind. Sometimes it can be a very hard and lonely experience and it just something that comes with the territory, so you should be at least somewhat prepared for it before you make the switch.
You’re confident about your decision
If you are to succeed as a professional poker player, you have to be completely confident about your choice. All the changes mentioned in the previous paragraph, combined with the likely pressure from those around you, can be difficult to deal with. Ideally, those around you will be very supportive of your choice, but, in reality, not too many people outside of poker understand it isn’t just gambling and you just have to be ready to stick to your choice and not feel guilty about it.
You’re willing to continue to develop
Even if you’re a good player right now, you need to understand that playing poker professionally means you have to constantly develop and improve as you go. At some point down the line, you might need to learn to play a new format or a whole new game like Pot Limit Omaha. Unlike recreational players, pros can’t afford to slip and start losing because their livelihood depends on it.
You understand variance
Although we are all familiar with the term, not that many people understand what variance actually is and how brutal it can be, even if you’re a good player and do everything you can to stay sharp and on your “A” game at all times. If you’re considering the move to full-time, you should be fully aware of how variance works and be prepared for the worst, instead of getting a harsh reality check at a later point.
You have a backup plan
Even if you tick all of the above boxes, you should always have some sort of a backup plan. Although people will often tell you to “just go for it” (whatever “it” may be), since you’re putting your financial future at risk (to some degree, at least), you should have some backup, just in case things don’t go as planned. Not everyone is made to be a professional player and you might not like it even if you’re making money, so make sure there is an alternative you can fall back on – just in case.