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Can I Play Pro?

Playing Professional Poker – Can I Be A Professional Poker Player?

If you find yourself wondering, “Can I play professional poker? Am I ready?” then here are a few things to think about before taking the plunge.

Ready to play pro?

So, you feel like you're an experienced poker player. Perhaps you've played online for a while, played a couple of tournaments, done ok. Perhaps you play in a regular poker game with a group of your buddies, and you regularly finish close to the top.

You find yourself asking, am I ready to play pro? It's a reasonable question – how do you know you're at the level where you do this for a living? How do you guage whether your skill has reached the point where you're ready to start risking the larger buy-ins that the pro tournaments demand?

It's not a decision you want to take lightly. A seat at the World Series of Poker Main Event can run to $10,000 – which is not pocket change. Perhaps you're the sort of person who can casually drop 10k without feeling it, but most people aren't.

The road to playing pro: don't give up the day job

The most sensible thing you can do when assessing whether you want to do this full time is to ease yourself into it. Don't have romantic notions about your life as a high rolling top earner. It's possible to make an extremely healthy living as a poker player, but you need to be completely realistic about it.

So, don't quit the day job immediately.

If you don't play online, start. The major advantage of playing poker online is the potential to experience tournament play. There are tournaments kicking off daily, and most of the better sites will have bigger events over the weekend with guaranteed prize pools – these are the games you want to get into.

Remember that you don't have to win, you just have to get paid. You need to place high enough by the end of the game to be able to claim a slice of the pot. Then, you need to start tracking your performance.

Playing pro – analyse the data

There are two ways to gauge the success of your play in a poker tournament. One is – did you break even? Is the money you made by the end of the game at least equivalent to the cost of the buy-in? Because if it's not, you really need to rethink this as a career path.

Secondly, if you're in fact earning more than even money, then divide your take home slice of the pot by the number of hours of playing you had to do to win it. - this gives you your hourly rate. Compare it to what you'd be making at your normal 9-5 job, factoring in things like the cost of any benefits your day job gives you.

If this is a significantly bigger number, and more importantly, if you are consistently earning at this level, then maybe there's something in it. Maybe you are ready for the big time. Maybe the answer to the question, Can I play pro? is Yes.