So You Want To Be A Professional Poker Player?

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Pocket Bullets ParisJim “Pocket Bullets” Paris

I talk to a lot of casual poker players almost every day. I define casual players as those around the world who may love poker but really could never become professionals, mostly because they just ain’t that good, don’t have the kind of money necessary to hit the pro circuits, or probably could not stand the pace. However, there are some casual players I have watched and thought, now they could be good enough to play professionally, but they just don’t have the money. These guys could do well if they had backers, but backers are hard to get. And, if they did get them could they really handle it? I mean, if it was you, could you handle the rigorous schedules? Could you become a world-class poker player?

Poker game time at our man cave

Do you think you could hold your own at the poker tables for prolonged hours, even days against the likes of a Phil  “Unibomber” Laak, who set the world’s record for playing 115 consecutive hours at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. More than likely the answer would be, “of course not.” After all, Phil did it to get into the Guinness Book of World Records and that really isn’t about poker. However, the real schedule of most poker pros is anything but a walk in the park.

Take our favorite player, Daniel “Kid Poker’ Negreanu; in 2014 he played a total of 56 events for a combined total play time of 505.5 hours. He cashed on 13 of those events including the WPT Five Diamond Poker Classic where he walked away with$36,947, nine events at the 45th Annual World Series of Poker for total wins of $8,545,408, two events at the Aussie Millions bringing in another $1,611,022 and lastly one event at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure that earned him $89, 560. All together he picked up $10,282, 937 give or take a few dollars. To accomplish that, the buy-ins  for the 13 events that he cashed in totaled $1,395,170 and the buy-in for the remaining 43 events that he failed to cash in amounted to an additional $1,788,756. That still gave him a profit before payout for action sold to backers, swaps, taxes and, not to forget, traveling expenses to Vegas, Australia, the Caribbean, etc… of more than $7 million dollars. But that’s the exception. He could have just as easily lost his buy-in money and gone home, since less than 5 percent of poker players can actually make enough to “make it.”

Now think about that for a minute. If you wanted to try that in the hopes of netting the $7 million, you would have to travel and spend sleepless nights in foreign lands, invest more than $3 million dollars, play hundreds of hours, withstand the pressure of tens of thousands of people scrutinizing your every move, accept defeat about 80 to 90 percent of the time with dignity, and move on to the next tourney.  Reality is that only a very small percentage of people who try can really become professional poker players . Can you afford it? Are you a good enough poker player? Or are you satisfied enjoying your life as a casual poker player?

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