The Hard Realities of Playing Poker Professionally Part 1

Video poker is more fun if you have more math skills. There is a sincere form of human nature that is brought out in every person when they engage in a game of poker. Not every online poker room offers rakeback. I didn't even feel like I played poorly. But what I can say is that the entire lifespan of my poker career was thrilling, which already puts it ahead of 99 percent of other job opportunities.

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This happens to many poker players even without much external influence. A Wall Street banker may shed frugality through peer pressure, but even a poker player with no social circle will probably still spend much more over time.

This is a trap many poker players fall into and can be a very vicious cycle. I tried my best to balance it all out and both treat myself but also try to stay grounded, and think I did a pretty fine job.

There were times where I definitely splurged way too much, occasions which I may not have had if I had felt like I was actually working "harder," but I generally kept my buyer's remorse to a minimum and this is something I am proud of. I don't have many regrets in general. I have seen many players go broke because they can't manage their finances.

It's sad but it happens. Most poker players are quick to accentuate or focus on their wins but rarely talk about their losses. So I may as well discuss losses for a moment. Even when I was at the peak of my career, playing my absolute best, putting the most time in, playing the highest stakes, I still had many horrendous downswings.

I had countless break-even months. I had what felt like a million losing days. Sometimes the graph of your bankroll just looks like a stock market crash, and it's not always entirely your fault.

It's hard to accept at times. The concept of a "paycheck" is roughly the opposite of poker income. And at 21 years old, I felt that all this was somehow routine.

I think I was still lifetime up versus him, though. I didn't even feel like I played poorly. Sometimes, variance rears its ugly head. Sometimes, you play badly but don't realize it. Either way, times like those are pretty crushing. I remember my first thought was that I could have bought a car off the lot and given it to a homeless guy. I remember it to this day. I abstained from describing to her the poker doom session I had endured earlier that afternoon. Losing sucks, but it is an inevitable part of the game.

Nobody can just win every time. And nobody wants to hear about it when things go south. People like to hear the glory stories and revel in the good times, but few are there to cheer you up when the woeful stories come out.

Part of the social contract of doing this type of thing for a living was understanding these tenets and trying to just stay level-headed. It's what we sign up for. Sometimes, you have to just trick yourself into saying that money isn't a real thing. This rubs off on every action you make during daily life though. Times like those can be very testing. But it's not just the money factor, although it is a big one. It's just simply the constant scrutiny and constant setbacks. Most people's jobs don't involve continuous failure, where you just get kicked to the curb over and over.

Most professions don't have inflection points where one minor mistake can erase hours and days of acute focus. But if you are to accept the long-run nature of poker statistics, you are going to lose quite often if you play a lot.

There is no other feeling than to lose an exorbitant sum here and there or suffer prolonged downswings. Most people simply can't handle it. I can't say I am a Zen master of my emotions or anything, but I was certainly better than most and that's a large part of why I had prolonged success. It's not that I possess far superior card-playing acumen to even the elite players.

Losing money is crappier. But in many ways, this is the temporary price you pay for a good return on investment in the long run. I can't complain on the macro level, for anything in my poker career. Sometimes though, you occasionally envy the people who can just clock in and clock out of work and take on little responsibility and suffer little duress and receive the same paycheck each week. Of course, this may be true, but it is absolutely the wrong way to approach the game of poker mentally.

And so people who cannot harness their emotions usually end up having a tough time coping with the downs in poker and ultimately do fail. Poker as a profession is not for people who need constant reassurance or encouragement. Actually, it's almost really not for anybody. You really have to be brutally honest with your performance. You have to be very hard on yourself, and you have to grow calloused to the cutthroat nature you voluntarily step into.

Some people estimate that 80 percent lose in the long run in poker, but I think a more accurate statistical guess is that only 5 percent win at poker in the long run. Some have postulated that out of those, only 5 percent of them can live off their winnings. Moral of the story is that very few people have the capacity to beat poker over a large sample size and make a living.

It takes a great deal of mental determination, not to mention a very distinct quirky type of personality, to persist through the trials and tribulations and taxing nature of poker. At its best though, poker as a profession is unbeatable. There is no better profession in terms of the capacity to bolster your quality of living with the least sacrifice or downside.

Literally unbeatable, aside from inheriting a fortune or something, and even then there is the argument that poker is better because you are feeling competitive and can focus on a goal. Poker has the upsides of any dream job, and the downsides are often superficial mental ones.

If you subscribe to the school of thought that we aren't even meant to "work" in a fundamental human sense, then it makes all the more sense. Yes, many poker players are jaded and unhappy individuals, but many, too, are not. Many poker pros have essentially sought the industry as refuge from the harrowing, unforgiving, and somewhat disgusting work culture in corporate America, and abroad too, and are more or less demanding to take control of their life and live by their own terms.

However, I don't have the same level of experience in the latter to quite know for myself; all I have are second-hand testimonials. Using your life situation of which income and time are variables but not the entire equation is a skill entirely separate from card-playing, and people's wellness acumens vary tremendously, too. You can make a lot of money playing poker but have the time and capability to do unique things with your life.

You have to realize that most people in this world are condemned to pretty mundane lives. Countless millions of people will have to work retail, customer service, things like that for meager salaries for their entire lives with two weeks off a year, and even those individuals are luckier than an infinite amount of others.

Poker is not a cake walk, and it's not a dream life devoid of all concern, but it can catalyze at a reasonable frequency a life that most people can only dream of me included when I began. You can be wherever you want for the most part. You can make time for your friends and family. You can sleep in. You can shape your schedule around your hobbies and outside interests.

You can travel and take vacations basically whenever. These things are huge in the grand scheme of life and happiness and are things that most people in the workforce can only wonder about as some lofty, conjured, unattainable pipe dream. At its best, poker as a career didn't always feel like real life. In a casino with a dealer?

Usually between 30 and At home with your buddies on a friday night with drinking involved? We tend to average about Originally Posted by Kennyseven. March 15th, , 4: I think 20 would be pretty healthy and think it might average I have heard a ratio but cant remember where I heard it. March 15th, , 5: Originally Posted by dj March 15th, , 8: We usually get the first orbit done in about 20 minutes blinds go up every fifteen. So 30 hands in an hour isn't impossible. Changes as blinds go up and players go down and the average hand takes less time.

Of course most people are pretty well drilled at shuffling and dealing so it doesn't take too long. Add a few more live nebs and the pace can slow a bit. Originally Posted by F Paulsson. Ah, I just noticed that the OP was referring perhaps specifically to tournament play. That tends to be slower, I suppose, given that people like to think things through a bit more carefully. Elite poker players apply the same winning strategy over and over again, no matter how they feel or what their recent results have been.

Big-time winning poker players will sometimes break from their standard, successful strategies, but always for very clear reasons. An average player might start raising -suited in early position because he is bored or wants to make something happen. But an elite poker player will raise with this hand in this position on occasion because he notices the table is playing passively and there are a couple of recreational players in the blinds.

There is a clear reason then to believe that raising -suited in early position typically a fold under normal circumstances might actually be a profitable play in this situation. If you can produce a well reasoned argument why deviating from your regular strategy might actually be more profitable, then it is okay.

It is the "because I feel like it" or "I am bored" reasoning that has to go. Another clear difference between average poker players and great poker players is the ability to fold an overpair. You know that little sick feeling you get when you have and a tight opponent raises all in on the turn? You make the so called "crying call" and he turns over the set yet again.

You need to start paying attention to that feeling a little bit more often. In fact there are certain patterns that are easily recognizable at the lower stakes — especially when you play online poker — where it is percent the correct play to fold your overpair. Good players are able to let go of any emotional attachment to their pretty-looking hands. Average players get married to their aces or kings instead, and can't let them go even when they know they are beat.

Tilt is a destroyer of bankrolls, dreams and poker careers. I can't tell you how often I receive emails or comments from people who describe to me how they've tilted huge amounts of their bankroll away when things went badly at the poker tables.

The reality of poker is that sometimes things will go badly for you and there is absolutely nothing that you can do about it. This is what you sign up for every time you sit down to play. There's always the possibility you might run terribly. You might run lights out as well, though. When you allow yourself to lose control of your emotions and throw your strategy out the window, the only person you are hurting is yourself.

All those hours you've spent trying to learn and improve your game were basically wasted because you decided to choose your emotions over reason when it really mattered. Respect the work that you have done. You owe it to yourself to maintain more composure and stop throwing away money when the cards go south. One more way average players constantly sabotage their poker results is by stubbornly playing in games that are full of decent-to-good regulars. If you can't find somebody at the table who is clearly playing very poorly, then you really have to ask yourself why it is that you are even there.

If you only play poker for the mental challenge or for recreation or pleasure, then this is totally fine. This tip doesn't necessarily apply to you.

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