Professional poker players seem to have enviable jobs. Who doesn’t want to make a living out of playing a game? Some people think that professional poker players are just lucky people, or that they started rich enough to be able to afford making a living at poker. However, being a professional poker player is not all fun and games.
Maintaining a living as a professional poker player is an incredibly difficult thing to do. If it were easy, everyone would probably do it. Similar to athletes, professional poker players are able to make a living out of what they do simply because they’re the best at their craft. The best poker players spend years of their lives honing their skills to make it to the top, but the fact that someone is able to play poker full-time and make consistent money out of it is already a feat in itself.
Furthermore, becoming a professional poker player isn’t just about being great at the game. There are plenty of skills required to be able to make a living out of poker, and what’s great about it is that some of these skills are also applicable outside the poker table. In fact, we could learn a thing or two from professional poker players that we can implement in our daily life.
Perhaps the biggest thing that prevents casual poker players from becoming professionals is bankroll management. Every poker player wants to be a high roller, but not everyone has the budget to play $500NL. Unfortunately, not everyone also has the patience to work their way up the stakes, so most casual players shoot out of their budget in hopes of getting lucky and winning big.
Every decent poker player knows that playing out of your budget is arguably the worst thing you could do. Professionals get to where they are because they manage their bankrolls and know their limits. They recognize that poker, like life, isn’t always going to be on an upward trend, which is why it’s important to keep funds in reserve to keep you afloat.
Keeping Emotions Under Control
Emotions can run pretty high at the poker table. Whether you’re getting dealt bad hand after bad hand, or your aces keep getting cracked, there is a multitude of ways for poker to get on your nerves.
Professional poker players excel by maintaining their composure and keeping their emotions under control, even if they feel like a player is bullying them because they know that that’s just how the game works. Showing signs of tilt, whether on the poker table or in any scenario for that matter, will most probably lead you to losses.
Grinding It Out
Most of the best professional poker players today make a living because they spend hours playing the game, and they don’t just rely on tournaments for their money. Tournaments may seem like an enticing option with the incredibly huge return to investment if you win first place, but they aren’t exactly the most consistent way of earning money.
Professionals are able to build their bankrolls by grinding at the cash tables in limits that are within their budget. Although they might take a stab at a tournament every once in a while, they don’t rely on tournaments solely. Similar to real life, their success in poker comes from consistent effort.
Dealing with Bad Beats
It’s inevitable for a poker player to get hit with a bad beat. There are times when you think that you’re about to win it all and you just get hit with the worst possible card on the river.
In these instances, some casual players may just bet it all and hope for the best, but professionals take their time and assess the situation. Just because things appear to go your way doesn’t mean that you’ll inevitably get the win. Professionals take these hits in stride and don’t dwell on their losses.
Although professional poker players don’t let losses get the best of them, they also use losses as an opportunity to learn. Great players always ask themselves how they could have played a hand better. In fact, the best players ask themselves this question not just when they’re losing, but also when they’re winning in order to figure out how to extract maximum value.
Professional poker players also spend plenty of time off the table to study the game. While gaining experience is the best way to learn, like in any field, it’s also important to learn the fundamentals and theory behind what you’re doing to be a well-rounded player.
Poker, at its core, is all about decision making. These decisions not just come in the form of whether you’re going to raise, call, bet, or fold, but also come into play when it comes to game selection.
Pro players excel by picking games where they know they have an edge over the competition. Choosing your battles is an essential skill not just in poker, but also in life if you want to win.