7 Alternate Career Options for Pro Poker Players

The world of professional poker -- especially to someone under the age of 25 -- can seem like a very appealing "career" path.

With the right set of skills and the right amount of luck you can build a lavish lifestyle and make more money in a short time than most of us will see in our lifetimes.

All without having to struggle through the boredoms of a 9-5 existence. Oh, and did we mention the international travel?

Bending Cards Forever Isn't for Everyone

Still, the world of professional poker is a cuttthroat one. Even the best players go broke (and quickly) and players may soon discover that a future bending cards might not be for them.

They might find they're just not as skilled as they thought or as they get older they discover that it's just not a lifestyle they wish to pursue for the rest of their life.

Once they decide it's time to leave the game in a professional capacity, though, they have to face the daunting question of what to do next - and often without the education (or the work experience) to help them make the transition.

If poker is just an enjoyable hobby for you it can also be a sign the advanced skills you need to play poker poker well - probability, psychology, game theory -- would make a career in a field that relies on those skills a great choice for you.

Guest poster James Guill walks us through a few alternative careers that can fit nicely for former and/or recreational poker players.

1. Casino Industry Professional

We'll start with the obvious. And we use "casino industry" broadly because there are lots of jobs in and around the casino/gambling world that a former poker player can transition into.

Good dealers are always in high demand.

Many poker players either started their careers or subsidized their playing days with a job as a poker dealer.

While not exactly a glamorous job in the casino industry, it is an entry-level position that can help to lead up to better jobs in a poker room or in a casino. A good dealer can also earn quite a bit in tips/dealing private games.

Poker room floor attendants or pit bosses are another position that a poker player can move easily into.

These jobs require an intimate knowledge of poker and/or casino games along with great customer service skills as your job is to guarantee that games run smoothly and customers have a good time.

Poker tournament directors are another obvious choice for poker players. These men and women run the poker events for a casino and are in charge of everything from hiring and training dealers to making sure that players are paid properly after an event.

Strong management skills and a broad knowledge of poker is required. A few connections made playing cards can't hurt either. 

2. Freelance Poker Writer

The explosion of online poker in 2003 brought about a surprising need for poker writers.

In the early days of the online poker industry just knowing how to play or write competently on the game of Texas Hold'em was enough to earn a decent amount of work.

media room
The media room at a poker tournament.

Nowadays, those wishing to enter the poker media need a much broader base of poker knowledge to be successful.

Freelance poker writing can take many shapes and forms. This can range from being a simple website content writer (writing about game rules for ecample) to covering live and online poker tournaments for a living.

For those that still enjoy the game and the people in the game, this is an obvious career to transition into. And, fortunately, a degree in journalism is not required.

Those already holding one will have a leg up on the competition, but most anyone that has a broad knowledge of the game and can write competently should be able to find work.

A good place to start looking for potential work is the many poker forums (particularly the affiliate forums) you'll find around the Web.

3. Teacher

It might seem counter-intuitive but a lot of poker players make excellent teachers because of their advanced knowledge of mathematics, probabilities, bankroll management, sociology and more.

Wei Will Ma
Will Ma: Natural crossover to teaching.

These skills (along with the proper degree) can help a former poker player transition into the role of teacher within a couple of years of hanging up the card protector.

Many younger poker players these days have strong backgrounds in math. These players clearly transition well into a career as a math teacher either at the elementary or collegiate level.

Former poker pro Will Ma, who teaches at MIT in Massachusetts, is just one great example.

The hard skills learned in poker combined with the hours working with and observing people from all walks of life will serve players who want to become teachers well. 

4. Finance Industry/Stock Trading

Dan Shak
Dan Shak: Poker hobbyist/financial heavy hitter

Many poker players consider -- and successfully pursue -- careers as stock brokers or day traders after they leave the poker world.

As with poker, investing involves measuring the potential risks verses the potential benefits. It requires taking the knowledge available about an investment, analysing its future potential and making a quick decision about about it's viability either short or long term.

Sounds a lot like poker, doesn't it?

Many poker players actually find the game through working in the financial industry so those with some type of background and connections often transition easily back into the industry.

Knowing some poker players who have done it can also be a good way in the door to an interview.

Chris FergusonKathy LiebertAndy Frankenberger and Dan Shak are just a few investors/poker players with a successful history.

If this is an area you understand and feel comfortable in will naturally make for a successful "fallback" career.

5. Counselor/Psychologist

The game of poker at the highest levels requires a solid understanding of the human psyche. As a result some poker players make excellent counselors or psychologists when they move on from the game.

Understanding what drives people and being able to manipulate them is key to every poker player's success.

Those same skills can be transformed and used to help people through their problems - with the right amount of follow up training of course.

6. Sales

Sales is another fairly obvious career option but an option all the same.

A good salesperson requires a skill mix of psychology, math and certainly aggression at the right times. You need to find the exact right spot the sale hinges on and make your move accordingly.

Selling a car not much different from selling a bluff.

Much like poker your financial success can depend entirely on how well you can find those spots. But in many companies sales people have a base salary and a commission on top of it, making your income ceiling high without any of the inherent risks of poker.

Also much like poker the key to success in sales is to have passion and comprehensive knowledge for the products you sell. 

Sales, being the revenue driving department in most companies, is usually regarded highly and if you show a knack for it it won't take you long to move up the corporate ladder and write your own ticket. Which is really waht playing poker is all about, isn't it?

7. Accounting/Actuarial Science

If you're comfortable with the numbers part of poker (odds, implied odds, calculating risk, etc) it's not much of a leap to think accounting is a smart direction for you to go in.

Russell Thomas
Actuary Russell Thomas rode his risk assessment skills all the way to the November Nine.

Essentially every company or organization needs accountancy services and in large corporations the accounting departments are divided into smaller units with specific detail-driven objectives so you can specialize in one particular angle you find interesting.

Attention to detail and number crunching are essential, obviously, so if that's the part of poker you enjoy the most you'll likely find it an easy way to pass the day.

It's not quite as exciting as dragging big pots at the tables but the payouts are decidedly more consistent.

Degrees in Accounting or Actuarial Science (applying math and statistics to risk in the insurance/finance industries) are also readily available.

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