The Complete Guide to Becoming a Professional Poker Player

It's harder than you think.

I got an email from my mom.

She has a friend who has a 17-year-old son who wants to play poker and needs some advice.

I wrote a reply and when I pressed enter I realized that it could be a good blog.

Daniel Negreanu thought the same thing and wrote this blog a couple of weeks ago.

Daniel Negreanu
Overlooked the pension plan.

The blog is about treating your poker playing like a business. It's a great blog that I recommend.

But, according to Daniel, some people have complained about it.

I agree with him that those people should try being more positive. And get a life, I might add.

Don't Ignore #10

I would perhaps have liked a different headline than “A Foolproof Plan to Becoming a Professional Poker Player," but that's just nitpicking.

I would have liked a few words about a pension plan, but a blog is never supposed to cover all angles.

My tips to my mother’s friend’s son on how become a poker pro were as follows.

It's not foolproof, and it's not complete, but I do feel it's excellent advice.

1. Understand that poker is a difficult game.

2. Never forget that poker is a difficult game.

3. Look at it as a computer game; don’t think about the money, and don’t think about the money.

If you're not having fun, stop playing.

4. Focus on one game to learn and master. Choose Holdem first. Choose tournaments and Sit&Gos if you are impulsive and creative. Choose cash games if you are disciplined and systematic.

5. Study! Read books, find a site with instructional videos and try to find a mentor or a friend to discuss hands and strategy with. Use Google and ask on poker forums to find out what people recommend.

6. Understand that mental strength is very important and try to enhance your own.

7. Have fun. If you’re not having fun stop, playing for the day. Or forever.

8. Learn what money management is and deploy your own system that you follow rigorously.

9. Understand that it is difficult to become a poker pro and that it will be even more difficult in the future.

10. Understand that if you have the intelligence, mental stability and work ethic to succeed in poker you would be more successful and happier if you put your efforts into a different path, guaranteed.


3. Since it takes time to become good he should play really low first and be happy when he wins $2 dollars, because it’s not about the money. It’s about improving and graduating step-by-step.

4. I truly believe cash games are the way to go. That’s where you learn real poker, and it’s more profitable.

But most important of all is to have fun when you're learning the game. PLO would be more profitable but it’s easier to learn Holdem first.

ken lennaard 8
After a couple hundred hours, come back for more advice.

10. This is 100% true. Playing poker for a few years is a fantastic education but making the transition back to real life is the hard part.

After I had pressed, “enter” and sent the email to my mom I realized that maybe the kid just wanted to play and wasn't considering a whole career like I assumed.

So I sent another email with simpler advice:

1. Deposit a sum he is ready to lose, like a hundred Euros.
2. Look at it like a computer game.
3. Use a money management system.
4. Play a lot lower than what he perceives as low.

After a couple of hundred hours and a few months he is welcome back for more advice.

After a couple of thousand hours and one year I will recommend the blog that Daniel Negreanu recently wrote.

But I'll be sure to add something about a pension plan as well.

About Ken Lennaárd:

Sweden's most controversial poker blogger Ken Lennaárd has been around the professional poker circuit for almost 20 years. Among his numerous accomplishments are Swedish Championships both live and online, three WSOP final tables and over $1.5m in live earnings. He's now bringing his singular poker voice to the English world via Look for new posts every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Note: Opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not represent the views of

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