Being a professional poker player is a dream job for a lot of people. You can be your own boss, play whenever and wherever it suits you – and it can be very lucrative.
But becoming a professional – or even making a steady profit to supplement your income – is not easy. If it was, everyone would be at it.
There are some basic rules you can follow, guidelines and strategy that will increase your chances of making money out of poker.
Poker strategy is just one element of the game. You should be aware that character and mindset play a huge part.
Some people just don’t have the personality needed to play full-time. If that’s you, don’t worry. Just carry on playing for fun.
Take your time
If you’re reading this, we’ll assume you’re already pretty familiar with the game and how it works.
You may have won a few tournaments or done pretty well at cash tables but now want to take your game to the next level by improving consistency.
The first thing you need to be aware of is the sacrifice it will take and that largely comes in the form of time.
You’ll have to be willing to work hard to improve your game and devote time to playing and studying.
A willingness to study is imperative to improving your game. You will have to play hundreds of thousands of hands but studying is also key.
As a general rule, you need to be thinking about reading hundreds of pages of poker books – some of them several times so it really sinks in.
Here are some recommended poker books to get you started.
Recommended poker books for beginners
Harrington on Holdem Volume 1: Strategic Play by Dan Harrington (Amazon)
Harrington on Holdem Volume 2: The Endgame by Dan Harrington (Amazon)
Harrington on Holdem Volume 3: The Workbook by Dan Harrington (Amazon)
The Theory of Poker by David Sklansky (Amazon)
Mathematics of Poker by Bill Chen and Jerrod Ankenman (Amazon)
These books are pretty essential but there are hundreds of titles out there. You can never read too much. Even if you don’t agree with what’s been written, it shows you are thinking about your game in-depth.
Learn from your mistakes
The more you read about the game, the better your game will become. One of the best ways to improve your game is to look at how you’ve been playing.
Installing software such as PokerTracker is a great way to look at your game history and analyse your performance.
Aim to devote a quarter of your poker time to looking at your hand history and comparing it to other players, particularly concentrating on occasions you have made mistakes that have cost you.
Learn from others
Learning from your mistakes is very important in poker but learning from other people’s mistakes can be just as helpful for improving your game.
Poker forums and poker training sites, or even just debating hands with friends are all great ways to quickly improve your ability.
Key to figuring out how to beat your opponents is to truly understand how they think. It’s easy to fall into the trap of assuming everyone is thinking along the same lines as you. The more you learn about poker, the more you realize that isn’t the case.
Two Plus Two is the best forum out there and can be considered essential for anyone looking to delve deeper into the strategic elements of the game.
For training sites, there are plenty of good ones to choose from but for us, DeucesCracked is a cut above the rest.
For a small subscription fee you’ll have access to thousands of training videos by some of the best pros out there. If you take the time to study and understand the information available to you – your game will improve, and fast.
Patience is a virtue
Playing thousands of hands, reading thousands of words and analysing thousands of plays will take time but it will be worth it.
To work through the basic advice here might take more than a year but you should notice gradual improvements in your game and, hopefully, that will keep you motivated.