If playing poker is one of your passions and you have developed any amount of skill over time, it is likely that you have given some thought to stepping away from your 9-to-5 job and playing poker as a profession. It makes sense – everyone dreams about pursuing what they love to make their living.


However, playing poker as a profession is more difficult than you think. If you are really thinking about making poker your career, then you need to learn more about the life so that you have all the facts in hand.


There are no guarantees that you will make money or win long-term

Even the very best poker players go through downturns – which means that your bankroll can take a significant hit. You will need to make sure that you have the savings to survive through down times in your poker fortunes.


Even if money does not become a problem, going through losing streaks can be emotionally draining as well. A streak can end up perpetuating itself, because a player loses confidence and starts to change his strategy, even though the strategy has worked well over time. Changing strategy causes the streak to continue, and the player’s confidence dwindles even further, causing a vicious cycle.


It is important to understand your win rate

The math is simple – the higher your win rate, the shorter your cold streaks will be – and the less likely you are to go into a debilitating cycle that ends up draining your savings. Let’s compare a player with a 2bb/100 win rate to a player with a 5bb/100 rate. The first player will have cold streaks that go over 30 BBs over 83 percent of the time. However, the second player will only have streaks that long about 63 percent of the time. 


For those who play live, approximating your bb/100 win rate is difficult, simply because you have to play so many hands to get a large enough sample without the help of results tracking applications. If you play primarily in online tournaments, your bb/100 win rate will not be as reliable either, because tournaments offer a lot more variance than do cash games.


You need significant capital on hand to make this move

Most of the pros suggest that you need a bankroll of between 25 and 40 buy-ins (BI), if you want to play No-limit Hold-em. If you’re choosing Pot-limit Omaha, there is significantly more variance, so you should have 60-80 BI on hand. If you’re playing multi-table tournaments, the cold streaks can last even longer, so you should have 100 BI. When you enter online tournaments that have more than a thousand players, you might need as many as 300 BI.


You will get to set your own hours

How many professions allow you to work when you want to? Having freedom with respect to time at work means that you can play when you want and take off when you want, so long as you have the means to support yourself. It’s great to not have a boss or anyone to report to. You’re a free agent.


You can make a ton of money

Have you become a highly skilled player? You can still bring in a lot of money playing online. The industry has altered player rewards and other provisions, but you can make a living this way. And if you want to go live, and make your living in the casinos, there are still plenty of weak players ready to give you their money. Poker as a profession can wait!

Try poker risk free at National League of Poker