It sounds like a lot of fun, but unless you have the incredible good fortune to become one of the two dozen elite players in the game, the life of a professional poker will be an emotional rollercoaster ride.
The life of a pro is not quite what you think it will be, and you’ll have an end game more likely to feature lower back pain and bad beat stories than WSOP bracelets and hour long massages at the table.
Here is why.
What pulled you into poker ends when you turn pro
If you’re like most people you were probably drawn to poker because you fell in love with the game. You loved the strategy, you loved the mind games poker players partake in, you loved the complexity, and you loved the idea of testing your skills against other players.
Well guess what, all of that goes out the window the second you turn pro. Once you decide to take the leap and “go pro” your poker life is consumed by money. Complexity and testing your skills is replaced by maintaining your win rate and looking for good spots.
When poker is paying the bills, it can be a very dreary existence.
If you’ve been in the “real world” you’ll have a hard time
Anyone who has ever had to punch the proverbial time clock in order to pay rent or a mortgage, make a car payment, or simply to eat, is going to have a difficult time adapting to the poker world, where money is a mere tool.
When you play poker for a living you have to have a disregard for money that is hard to understand when you come from the real world.
The utter lack of respect for the money being tossed around in a poker room can be jaw-dropping for people who have had to work for a living (not that poker isn’t work) and this understanding of the value of a dollar can make it hard to take the necessary risks to become a professional player, or at least to become a serious professional player.
Because of this, people who came from the 9-5 world never seem to advance beyond the lower middle-limits, and most have little to no desire to play higher; they just don’t see the point.
For most of these players it seems more logical and reasonable to make $50k with little worry than play stakes where you can have $50k swings, and where your edge is likely thinner than the thread holding your clothes together.
I suppose if you never had to work 50 hours a week to make 50K you don’t understand how awesome making $50 a year playing cards is, which is why young kids tend to fly through the stakes without much regard for the potential to go broke.
The life of a pro is simply an easier lifestyle to transition to for a young kid who doesn’t have the responsibility of a family or mortgage payments, and who has never really had a career. Going from living with mom and dad with little to no responsibility to poker makes it easier to have little respect for the money you are risking.
Don’t get fooled by the “ballas”
When they are flush with cash after a good run you’ll hear plenty of wild stories, see social media pictures of extravagant spending and once in a lifetime trips, but if you’ve ever wondered why some poker players “go silent” it’s because you can’t always run good –unless you’re Jason Mercier, then you can always run good.
What I’m trying to say, is that unlike a CEO who is flush with cash 24/7, poker players have ups and downs, and if you can’t handle the downs you’ll have fewer ups.
This is what ended my run as a poker pro. I simply reached a point where I dreaded logging on to my computer or going to Foxwoods. It wasn’t just that poker was no longer fun and that it had become all about making money, it came to a point where I actually disliked playing poker.
I stepped away from poker games for roughly two years; two years without an online hand or a shuffle of a deck of cards.
Even to this day I have no interest in playing anything but recreationally.
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