The Life of a Real Poker Pro
The idea of being a professional poker player can be so appealing that we don’t have to even know how to play to wonder… it seems like the dream occupation – calling it an actual job seems almost too serious a word as most people would expect it to not at all feel like work in the conventional sense like so many ‘mundane’ jobs that we wouldn’t typically consider fun. As a poker pro we can be our own boss, have flexible working hours (we play when we want), travel around the world, have the kind of lifestyle that others can only dream of and, of course, not be limited in terms of the amount of money we can earn. It all sounds quite wonderful at first. And, indeed, this is a description of what it’s like for a number of professionals.
But, surprise surprise – it’s certainly not anywhere as easy as it might seem. Let’s take a closer look at the life of a poker pro…
Being your own boss, with flexible working hours
Being your own boss is a great thing. Nobody gives you instructions or tells you what to do and how to do it. But there are downsides, too.
First, you have to be disciplined and organise your work yourself. Being your own boss means having the ability to decide to spend a few days on the sofa, in the city, meeting friends, watching series after series on Netflix or whatever, but doing this all the time doesn’t pay the bills or buy stuff. Of course, leisure time and enjoying yourself is indeed a potential plus of professional poker, but the title features the word poker, which should serve as a reminder that it’s necessary to actually put the hours in at the tables!
The job of a poker professional, then, is to invest a certain amount of time in playing the game, treating it no differently than any job. If you do not do that, you cannot be successful in the long-term. It might seem surprising, but it’s standard for a professional to average anything from 30 to 50 hours per week. Some weeks it could be just 10-20 hours while others might see even 60-70 hours spent at the virtual tables but, however it’s done, successful poker pros put the hours in.
The big difference between a normal job and being a poker pro
If you are employed in a company, you tend to have health insurance, which means that you will continue to be paid normally if you are sick. A poker professional, on the other hand, will not get anything to compensate for those periods when it’s not possible to work.
As an employee on vacation, it’s not unusual to be paid for that time by the employer or the company. As a poker player, you’re the boss, your own employer, so there’s no money coming from an ‘outside source.
What about pensions when you are older? An employer pays every month into your pension fund, but as a poker pro the responsibility is yours to both arrange and pay for any pension plan.
The financial possibilities
There’s no doubt that it is totally possible to make good money playing poker full-time. A multitude of players from around the world, from diverse backgrounds and cultures, sit at the virtual tables, grinding away to earn considerable sums as online poker pros. Some are high rollers for whom it’s not unusual to add a zero to the annual ‘salary’ that people tend to earn from more conventional jobs. In some ways, we could say No Limit Hold’em can generate almost no limit earnings…
But… As an employee with a conventional job you will have a fixed salary every month, and this might increase over time, while there can also be very advantageous career opportunities. Having this kind of security makes planning ahead with a degree of confidence quite possible. This isn’t necessarily the case for a poker player, who might well have more earning potential, but also needs a healthy bankroll that can withstand downswings, as well as sufficient financial reserves to play in a relaxed state and never be under pressure. There should never be a reason to play with scared money. It’s a good idea to have 12-18 months reserves to fund your living normally, and be prepared for bad months. Plan your finances in detail and adhere to disciplined bankroll management.
Poker Pro Lifestyle: Travel the World…
Certainly, the lifestyle of a poker player can be exciting, traveling from country to country and seeing some of the most beautiful places in the world, playing poker along the way. Who doesn’t want to visit new places around the globe while earning money at the same time?
In fact, professional online poker players can even change where they live whenever they want, because they need only a PC/laptop and internet access to make a living.
The life of a poker professional certainly seems to have more advantages than disadvantages when compared to the conventional working world. Nevertheless, there are many aspects which must be respected and prepared for, and it’s imperative to make honest, practical self-assessments constantly.
Take a look at our “How to become a poker pro” article.