Playing poker for a living online isn't for everyone. There are many who quit their day jobs to become a pro before acquiring the necessary skills.
Contrary to popular belief, pure poker talent will only get you so far in this game.
Before you tell your boss to go fly a kite so you can become a professional poker player, read this guide and make sure you truly do have what it takes.
Successful online poker players have many different types of personalities. Some are outgoing, others are homebodies who never leave their mom's basement. But there are certain traits that all top poker pros possess. One of those being an ability to persevere.
There will be frustrating days when playing poker regularly online. Many of them.
You'll have weeks where it seems like the poker site is rigged because so many two-outers crack your hand on the river. When this happens, you have to shrug it off and get back to the grind. In the long run, you'll end up ahead.
When Mike McDermott (Matt Damon) lost all his money to Teddy KBG (John Malkovich) in the movie Rounders, he took a break from poker. And then he came back better than ever and eventually defeated Teddy heads-up.
Rounders isn't real life, but it does teach a valuable lesson: you must persevere.
The next personality trait every successful online poker player has is courage. You won't make much money sitting around waiting for the nuts. You have to take chances. That means firing at the occasional big pot with a junk hand.
As the legendary Doyle Brunson says, "courage isn't necessarily the absence of fear." He's right.
It's okay to fear losing, so long as that fear doesn't throw you off your game. If you play scared, you'll never win. If the thought of risking your rent check makes you uneasy, this isn't the right occupation for you.
Self-discipline is another crucial component of a successful online poker player. It's just you and your laptop. You won't have a boss or customers to deal with.
While it may seem nice not having to answer to an angry boss, it's not always bright blue skies and sunny beaches.
I'm going to be brutally honest with you. There are going to be days that flat out suck. How you react to those days will make or break you.
If you respond to a cruel run of sick bad beats by playing on tilt or trying to win it all back quickly by playing at higher levels, you'll be forced to beg your boss for your old job back in no time.
No one is going to be there to prevent you from making poor decisions. No one will be there to tell you to save your money after a big win instead of buying a new TV. You're on your own.
If you can't handle making smart decisions, I would recommend sticking to your 9-5 job.
Although there are many other traits of a successful online poker player, my final main requirement is to never allow your ego to get the best of you.
Egotistical people struggle playing poker for a living. You aren't as great at poker as you might think. You can lose. Everyone can lose. If you stay level-headed at all times and don't allow your ego to control your brain, you're going to do just fine.
Money, a computer or mobile device, poker skill, and a brass set of balls is what you need to turn online poker into a job.
Let's start with money. How much do you need? That depends on how much you want to make.
If your goal is a $50,000 a year salary, a bankroll of $500 probably isn't going to get the job done. Having at least 20-25 buy-ins to the game(s) you play is a solid starting point. But beginning with 30-plus buy-ins is a safer play.
You are going to have losing sessions no matter how well you play. There will be times you get your money in with the nuts and lose to a two-outer. That's poker. So it's important to have plenty of buy-ins behind to offset those bad runs.
Don't rely heavily on luck. Stack the deck in your favor with a sizeable bankroll.
The proper bankroll, however, will only get you so far in this game. If your poker skill is as limited as Donald Trump's vocabulary, there isn't a bankroll deep enough to make you a winning player.
While poker rules are the same online and in a live casino, the skillset required is a bit different online.
You won't be able to pick up on any physical tells from your opponents on the Internet. You also won't have any idea if they are young, old, male, female, etc. That makes the skill of picking up on betting patterns even more crucial.
But the most important skill isn't just a poker-related skill: self-discipline. Those who are self-disciplined, and not just as a poker player, are the most successful online poker players.
There will be temptations to gamble your bankroll away on blackjack or slot machines. But you should avoid those temptations like the plague.
We've all had those days where we are down half a buy-in and want to win that money back quickly to get unstuck. But the cards just won't cooperate. Don't give up if the game is profitable and try to win your money back on one hand of blackjack.
The odds at the blackjack table aren't in your favor. If you stick to your game and wait patiently, you'll dig yourself out of a hole.
Finally, you need a good laptop, desktop, or mobile device (iPhone, Android, iPad, etc.) to play online and good Internet service. Don't play somewhere that has mediocre Wifi or you will have some times where you're in a hand and you lose connection, and then lose money.
I also recommend finding a comfortable desk and chair. If you aren't comfortable while you're playing, you won't play your best.
Don't go cheap when purchasing the electronics and "office" equipment needed. You're going to spend a lot of time in the same spot. So it's a good idea to make sure you enjoy your set up.
Now that you have a good understanding of what you need to buy and the personality traits required to win, it's time to focus on getting started. Think of it as starting a brand new job, except you don't have to interview for this one.
The first thing you need to do before your first day at your new 'job' is to put together a plan of action.
What games are you going to play? How many hours per day will you play? Are you going to take certain days each week off? How many tables at a time will you play? These are all questions that must be answered before your first day.
Game selection is very important. One huge mistake many wannabe poker pros make is to play the games they enjoy best, not the games they are best at. If sit n' go's are your best game, that's what you should play primarily.
Personally, I enjoy tournaments more than cash games, but, due to a busy schedule, I don't have as much time to play tournaments. Therefore, I am forced to play cash games more often but am not as skilled in that type of game.
I recommend focusing on the games that make you the highest hourly wage.
By now, you should a good idea of which games suit you best. Even though poker is supposed to be a fun occupation, the money is what's most important. Don't ever take your eyes off the color green.
You should also know about how much per hour you make in your best games. That will help you decide how many hours per week you should play.
If you have been making $20 an hour in $1-$2 NLH over a long period of time, and your goal is to make $50,000 per year playing poker, that means you'll need to put in an average of 48 hours per week.
Should you take certain days off each week? Absolutely. I firmly believe taking time away from poker is a smart idea. Don't feel like you can't take the occasional vacation because you'll be losing out on money.
If you play every day, you're eventually going to burn out. I've known many poker players who just couldn't take the lifestyle anymore. Had they stepped away from the tables occasionally to clear their mind, the burnout probably never would have happened.
You don't necessarily have to have a set day or two away from poker each week, although you should if you prefer 'working' a set schedule. But when you commit to days without poker, avoid the temptation to log onto your poker site and jump into a game.
Your days off should be spent watching TV, playing basketball, hanging out with your friends, spending time with your kids, etc.
Most online poker pros play in multiple games at a time. Some even play in 12 or more games at once. You don't have to play in that many games, but I would suggest learning how to multi-table effectively. The more hands you see per hour, the more money you can make.
Preparation is key to a successful career as a professional poker player. Like any occupation, you don't truly know what's going to be thrown your way until you get started. But, given my 13 years of poker playing experience, I feel I can give you a pretty good idea of what you can expect.
First off, the lifestyle is quite enjoyable but isn't, for most of us, what you see on TV.
I love poker. I have a passion for this game. But sometimes I get bored. If all I knew about poker is what I see on ESPN's WSOP broadcasts, I would think poker is non-stop action. It's far from it. You will go hours, and sometimes days, without hitting a big hand.
The game also becomes repetitive. That's part of the reason so many players end up burning out and quit. The other reason is because the game is so stressful. If your idea of a perfect job is one that doesn't require difficult or risky decisions, this isn't for you.
But it's not all negative. In fact, there are far more positives to playing poker for a living than negative.
It's a great game that will challenge your mind. I worked in some 9-5 jobs years ago where I never had to think. It was so easy. I just showed up and collected a paycheck. That wasn't for me. I love the challenge poker presents.