We live in an era of instantaneous. On the outside we all look vastly different, but our innards are all screaming “I want it now!” like a purple overblown Veruca Salt. Patience as a virtue is so yesterday. Today we want the whole world in our hands from the moment we take that magical parturition roller coaster ride. This is why people choose to be a professional poker player or they follow the Top 50 Poker Twitter Handles to keep up with professional Poker players from around the world.
From the inside out it’s a tough nut to crack, but from the outside in it looks like a veritable paradise. Vast periods of time sitting in your underwear, clicking buttons all day, only permeated by occasional trips to Monte Carlo, Las Vegas and Walsall.
A million here, a million there, Christ there are millions everywhere.
So how is it done? Not by telling lies that’s for sure.
How can you become a professional poker player in the shortest possible time?
1# Win a Big Tournament Early in Your Career
This is the most popular stream of advice that trickled out through the tributaries of the professional poker players Canteen during lunchtime. It’s all about the money honey and what better way to get your bankroll started that to luck box your way to a major title in the first few weeks of play.
“Win a big tournament early in your career,” says Rupert Elder.
“The easiest way to become a pro is to make a big result in a big event,” says Jean Marie Vandeborne.
“Bink a tourney and turn pro like everyone else,” says Morten Mortensen.
“Win a big event. No win a huge event. Then retire.” Says Nicolas Levi – who is making a very bad job of retiring right at this precise time.
2# Taking Shots Early On
Another solid piece of advice that must be exercised with a tinge of caution involved taking shots early on. This is often the tale told by the grinders who started out in life at the 25nl levels only to find themselves moving all-in for $250,000 just a few short years later.
“Take some shots early on.” Says Elder.
“Don’t be afraid to take a shot at a bigger stake, have a hard set stop loss and be careful with your game selection.” Says Max Silver.
3# Stay Away From Those Table Games
Money is the fuel that will allow your poker machine to keep on trundling along, and so it’s important that you nurture it like you would a newborn baby.
The excitement of earning money through a gambling game often leads to the participation of more gambling games. Suddenly, you think you are invincible at anything from Three-Card Brag, Credit Card Roulette and Craps.
How many players started out in life being eliminated on Day 1A of a £1k event and then put £1k on red in a bid to win back the buy-in?
“Keep away from those damn table games any time you get a result. No one is ever satisfied unless they take 1st place so they chase the balance in prize money on the roulette and baccarat!” Says Sam Razavi.
4# Choose Your Profile Carefully
We live in the age of Social Media. Not bad if you want to spend a few voyeuristic hours trawling through the photographs of a beautiful friend you hardly know, but not so great if you want to keep your private life a secret.
If you want to make it as a pro player you are going to have to get used to finding people willing to stake you. This means your name, image and profile needs to be absolute mustard as Richard Trigg understands all too well.
“Cut off your tracking site information and tell everyone you crush the game so you can get staked.” Says Richard Trigg
Advise that Gus Hansen would do well to heed.
When you are playing live poker it’s also important that you look the part, as demonstrated by Leon Louis when he says, “Purchase an expensive pair of Bose or Beats by Dre headphones, cultured Parisian looking scarf accompanied with 2 weeks of beard growth.”
5# Stop Dreaming and Start Living
We are all flesh and bone.
The only thing that separates the men from the boys – and girls from the women – is our belief system and the choices that we make thereafter.
Take some advice from Walter Mitty and stop dreaming and start living. If you are going to be a professional poker player then you are going to have to learn to take some risks.
So what are you waiting for?
“Just quit your job and declare yourself a pro,” Says Elder.
“Quitting your job and playing poker does the job…not that I would recommend it though.” Says Morten Mortensen.
Whoops…too late Morten.
“You just have to start doing something and make things happen,” says Andrew Seidman, “As a poker coach I can only show my students the door…they have to walk through it. If you want to be a professional poker player you have to walk through that door.”
6# Work Harder Than Everyone Else
Poker is no different to anything else that you want to excel at in life. If you want to be the best at anything you either have to get very lucky, or work harder than your competition.
Given that poker rewards luck in the short term, and skill over the long term, it’s always advisable to work hard on those levels of skill and not rely on the bouts of luck that inevitably pass your doorway.
“My advice would be to play until your mouse bleeds. The more hours you play the better you get, and more likely you are to make it as a pro.” Says Rhys Jones.
If we want to get anywhere quicker than the next person, then the best approach is to seek out someone who has a map and borrow it.
Watching the very best players in the game talk you through their decision making process is golden, and this is why you should invest heavily in online coaching when you first get into the game.
“Watch videos, tutorials and even get private lessons. Then spend more time analyzing your game than playing. Until you get into the swing of things I would suggest splitting your time 75% analytically and 25% playing.” Says Mathew Frankland.
“Watching tutorial videos are a great way to progress,” says Louis.
8# Befriend the Very Best
Staying with the mentor/training theme, one of the quickest ways to get to the top is to become personal friends with the people currently wearing the crowns, garlands and bathing in milk.
If you are fortunate enough to get into the inner sanctum then your route to the top will come quicker than poppadoms and a chutney tray at an Indian restaurant.
“Befriend some successful pros; they’ve been there before you and have all the best stories,” Says Kara Scott.
But how exactly do you befriend them? Leon Louis believes he has it licked.
“During random poker conversations with them just insert terms such as EV/Fold equity/ICM and the Nash Equilibrium. You won’t have to know what you’re talking about but to them you’ll look like a genius.”
9# Slow Down You Move to Fast
Simon & Garfunkel could have been referring to professional poker players when they sang “Slow down you move too fast, you gotta make the morning last. Just kicking down the cobble stones…looking for fun and feeling groovy.”
Sometimes the best approach to getting anywhere quick is to take your time. A principle that Paul Jackson concurs with.
“If you are playing cash games then don’t try to too much too fast, and if you are playing MTT’s don’t use the phrase “i was playing to win” to justify a bad action.”
10# Make Every Decision One Based on EV
Gut feeling gets you into trouble. Instead, you need to learn to base your decisions on the theory of Expected Value (EV). I would love to explain what that means, but this is why I write and don’t play, but Leon Louis once again hits the nail on the head.
“Look at every decision in your life from an ”EV perspective”, anything ranging from optimal tinder strategy to which brand of butter you purchase.”
What’s your best advice? Let us know in the comments below.