The Pros and Cons of Playing Poker for a Living

John McNeilly
Playing like a pro takes a lot of patience

Most people have no idea what it takes to play poker for a living.

Before deciding to choose this path, let me warn you of the disadvantages first. Poker has many benefits, but it also has many negative consequences that come with playing long hours.

This guide will allow you to make the right decision by learning from someone who actually plays for a living.

Poker for a Living

The first thing you need to play any game for a living is patience. Playing every day, all day, can get extremely tiring.

Staring at a computer screen for hours on end can literally drive you insane. In addition, your fortunes online are prone to wild swings. You will occasionally sit down at a table and not get any cards for hours.

Be prepared to take the worst beats of your life along with huge runs that will make your bankroll soar.

Playing for a living requires extreme mental discipline and a steady game plan. It's a good idea to record how many hours you play each day and what your total profit for the day is.

Do this for a month or two before you make the switch to becoming a full-time player. This will allow you to analyze your play and find out how much you make on average.

Drawbacks of Playing Poker for a Living

1. No set income: Some months you'll actually experience a loss in total earnings. You must be able to cope with this and still have the confidence you need to win. You'll encounter some horrible runs along the way so be prepared.

2. Exhaustion: You'll constantly be tired if you're playing all day. If you're playing really high limits, you may not have to play all day to make a living. The fact is that most of us will need to grind it out all day to pay rent and bills and buy food.

3. Reduced family time: Since you must make your money playing poker, you'll tend to spend less time with your family. When a good poker player encounters a bad run, he or she will grind it out until they prevail.

This may call for some extremely long hours of play. Be prepared to play poker at any time. On losing months you'll need to spend even more time on the computer or at the casino.

Advantages of Playing Poker for a Living

There are many advantages that help balance out playing poker for a living. I love that you get to choose your own hours to work on any day you wish.

You can take off as many days as you want and never be hassled to wake up at 8 a.m. - or, god forbid, earlier. You'll also be playing one of the most intriguing games in the world for money. Who could ask for more? It's a great lifestyle if you're a winning player.

The fact is, most people can't handle the swings that are unavoidable in full-time play. Every time you sit at the table you must change your personality and play with ice water in your veins.

When you take a bad beat, you can't let it affect you. You must deal with the swings on a regular basis. You must also be a dedicated soul who will play even when the cards aren't going your way. You must be a very disciplined and winning poker player to play for a living.

I hope this article hasn't discouraged you if you have dreams of playing professionally. If you believe you can do it, you'll buy every book and read everything you can get your hands on to become a winning player.

See you at the tables.

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Tom 2013-06-21 11:44:58

The comments on this page are really... high quality for sure. This was a decent article, but could be improved with links to your other articles about bankroll management, online vs live, cash vs stt, etc. and what the advantages of these things may be. This might help someone considering this as a "career" to make a more informed opinion.

As for this Dave fellow below me, I think it takes far more talent to be an 18 year old with 50 bucks who turns it in to millions than it does to be a wealthy man who maybe slightly increases his wealth. Playing 20 games at once is a bit harder than playing 1, though you may disagree. I'm not sure what the second half of your rant really was about, so I'll leave it at that.

Cheers!

dave 2012-06-30 05:08:45

I played mant years with some of the know players you see on tv. But back 10 yrs. I got sick and dont play much anymore more , just smjall limits now. But I can only say this, I think ever since it was put tv, the game went right in the sewr.People saying they put 50 bucks in ran it up to 9 mill. get real. The people playing now are the same ones that would look down on you 15 yrs agol,but now that its on tv I guess they think they are just kool, when they are nothings that are ruing the game. I dont want to be in the same room with them. If its on tv they think its style that they dont have just folloers in everything they do in life.

New York Nick 2011-10-16 11:08:23

Matt let me tell you something. AA's can be a hand you cant refuse but after playing poker for nearly over 4 years I learn it can be the worse hand just like pocket deuces. What you should had done was call and played it cool like you didnt really have nothing. That guy who raised you must to been some cowboy to gamble. But if you were to call and saw the 228 on the board you could had easily may had read that he could at least has 3 of a kind. It sucks I know. Personally my favorite hand is QQ. Something about the 2 hail marys that does it. But I have lost with them. Me I am just starting to try and make a living with poker because it is so damn hard finding a job that will hire you with Obama's missed up planned. I swear sooner or later I am going to have to take blood pressure medicine with the clowns I play with lol. But I do my best to build up slow. I might walk it the casino with only 50 and try to double my amount. Even if its a slow day and I make 25 I thank god and take the money and run. Because you could make that at a job when 25 dollars was easily made at the table within 25 mins. Better than losing or sitting at home.

Matthew Goodwin 2010-06-16 20:35:03

I have started my dream and that is to become a successful, full time Poker Player, I went to Tunica about a month and a half ago and i won the first three poker tournments i have played in the fourth one was going well i was chip leader by the end of the first break and was well over 40k chips but then i started catching myself making bad calls and chasing cards since then i have not won a tournment but i will still chase my dream and i believe i will become very successful doing that if there is anybody out there that does play for a living i would like to hear from you my email is mattvangoodwin@yahoo.com, for instance the last tournment i was in was a freeze out no re-buys and the first hand i get is pocket aces and i was in the 9 seat so being the first hand i raise 500 since the blinds are only 25 50 the 8 seat raises me and goes all in so with aces i call 8 seat shows 8 2 off suit flop comes 2 2 8 should i have just checked the hand since it was the first hand or did i make the right move and just got beat out by a donkey anyways after being on this losing streak i have caught myself scared to make calls and just not playing the way that i should is that normal who ever gets this i thank you for your time

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