“Money won is twice as sweet as money earned,” says Paul Newman in the iconic movie The Color of Money.
Nothing could ring more true to the many poker-pro wannabes out there. The hype and attention by the media and celebrities when it comes to poker has led many to imagine giving up their jobs and playing poker for a living. But you ain’t living the highlife in Monte Carlo just yet.
“This is the only profession in the casino where you get to take money from the other players at the casino,” Jacob Bazeley said to poker-focused fansite Cardplayer.com in a 2012 interview. That is also, in essence, what is so alluring about poker to us all.
You are not putting your hard-earned cash on Lady Luck, as you do playing online casinos. The money is won fair and square from real human opponents.
There is a lot more to poker than turning up and taking other players money. It takes time and patience and there is a very good reason seasoned professionals call it “the grind.”
Making a living as a professional poker player is not as easy as many seem to think. You need to face up to the some of the simple facts all pros know and live by. Remember, Ashton Kutcher has money to loose, you might not.
Some home truths about the life as a poker pro
Firstly, after a long, hard day of work, you may have to go home having just lost 10,000 CAD. Keeping your cool and resisting the urge to win back the losses immediately is one challenge that only the wise and emotionally detached overcome.
Pursuing a career in professional poker you must also be prepared for the stigma associated with being a poker player as a profession. Try hypothetically explaining to your parents that this is what you now do for a living and that poker is a proper job!
"Many players learn just enough to lose money they wouldn't ordinarily risk."
This quote by Ian Anderson, in “Burning the Tables in Las Vegas”, is both hailed and profoundly misunderstood. That is because it is so to the point, that it gets lost in translation for aspiring poker players.
Consider the saying reflecting something that is referred to as “The Peter Principle” in management theory. Peter Principle is a theory where every employee will rise in the hierarchy through promotion until they reach the levels of their respective incompetence.
Having a poker face can mean so much, as Lady GaGa’s lyrics spring to mind. But, a cool pair of shades, a smart set of headphones and a killer poker face won’t win you the game or fame. Drinking Red Bull and chain-smoking in your pit with 4 live online tables on the go simultaneously for hours on end is not the same as playing high stakes hands at Harrah's Hotels and Casinos.
Assume you have won your way to a live tournament online, through one of the online gaming platforms that let you play and qualify for a seat at a genuine live tournament. A chance to put your poker skills to the test against the current crop of top dogs...
Will you sink or swim?
Jack McClelland, a name in poker around for decades lets you in on the absolute basics with his widely quoted response to what success means in live tournament poker.
“To be a poker champion, you must have a strong bladder”.
Does this sound like the image of the jet-set lifestyle you imagined as a glamorous poker pro?
Not convinced yet, that a poker pro’s life isn’t glamorous?
We raise you with our next quote: “No-limit Hold'em; Hours of boredom followed by moments of sheer terror”.
This quote we picked out of many is from the born and raised Michiganian poker pro, Tom McEvoy, who said this after he had already won millions. It should give you a clear idea as to what is meant by the grind. Tom was an accountant who was surprisingly laid off from his job and took up poker full-time in 1978. With 4 WSOP bracelets to his name, he shows us that even an accountant can find the beautiful game of poker boring.
Our Canadian countryman and living legend, Daniel Negreanu, always emphasizes the need of tight bankroll management whenever he is interviewed or asked for advice for budding poker players.
It’s not as if we are trying to rain on your poker parade. Poker imitates life, full of twists and turns and ups and downs. Poker is everything slot machines are not! Just make sure you enjoy it sensibly.
“You need to know when to hold them, you need to know how to fold them”
The words of Kenny Rogers in his classic Country & Western song “the Gambler”, pretty much sums up the idea of keeping an eye on your bankroll and making decisions before you embark into the unknown as a “professional poker player”.
Giving up your day job and trying to make it needs a lot of consideration, planning, and stamina. We are not trying to discourage you from your wins and stardom.
Let’s just say “You first, Poker Second”.