So you are somewhere in the vicinity of the legal drinking age and you would do anything to avoid a boring 9-to-5 job? In that case, you might be thinking about becoming a poker pro.

Playing poker for a living might sound like a great proposition for someone young and ambitious, however, you should keep in mind that like any other career path, poker comes with its highs and lows.

Before committing yourself to the life of a poker pro, you have some serious decisions to make. Before making those decisions, here are the top 10 things you need to know before turning pro.

10. Your Lifestyle Will Undergo Significant Changes

Becoming a poker pro is much more comparable to being a professional athlete than it is to holding a regular 9-to-5 job. Obviously, you can treat it as either one. You can simply commit to a certain game and certain stakes and play a certain number of hours per week, grinding out a living. However, most people who want to become poker pros want to reach the top and that takes a significant lifestyle change.

Regardless of whether you want to be a live or online poker pro, you will need to put in a lot of hours and a ton of effort. Being on top of the game means improving constantly, and if that means dedicating 12 hours per day, 6 days per week to the game, then that’s what you’ll have to do. Essentially, if you want to be successful, you must base your daily routine around poker.

9. There Will Be Unexpected Consequences

Besides the obvious consequences of becoming a poker pro, there will also be a lot of changes that you might not be expecting. When working a regular job you can expect your health insurance to be paid for, a strict tax code to follow when paying taxes and clear objectives to achieve. When you become a poker pro, all of this doesn’t apply anymore.

Another consequence of playing poker full-time is the fact that you are no longer building a resume. So if you decide to get a job after five or so years of playing poker, that might be a problem. Not many people can appreciate the skill set it takes to be successful at poker, so don’t be surprised if future potential employers look at you simply as a ‘degenerate gambler.’

8. Math Skills Are Essential

Whatever you may have heard about poker, there is only one thing you really need to know – 90% of success in poker comes from being good at math.

While that figure may be less for live poker, rest assured that there is no way you can be successful in online poker without understanding a lot of statistical data. Big bluffs and tricky plays can only get you so far. If you are constantly making decisions that have a negative estimated value, you are eventually going to lose.

7. Freedom Can Quickly Turn Into Laziness

Working your own hours and being your own boss may sound pretty nice, but are you really prepared to take on that responsibility? If you are only accountable to yourself, you need a lot of work ethic and dedication to work as hard as you can and not veer off track.

You may think that it’s easy, but in fact, most people do not have the work ethic required to be their own bosses, so be sure not to overestimate your capabilities.

6. You Will Be Running an Investment Firm

Whether you decide to play cash games or tournaments, the amount of money you can expect to make will always be calculated the same way. For tournaments, it’s usually calculated in the form of ROI (Return on Investment), while cash game players usually adopt a BB/100 (Big Blinds per 100 hands played) calculation.

Regardless, you need to know what win rates are reachable in the games you want to play and consider the time and money you spend on poker as investments with a certain return. Unless you get a good idea of your win rates, it will be much harder to be accountable to yourself, keep track of the work you put in and calculate your ROI or BB/100.

5. You Will Need To Adapt Long-Term Thinking

Going pro without a long-term game plan is something that can tremendously increase your chances of failing. You can’t expect to start a poker career and then just see where it takes you.

Every aspect of poker requires planning. If your daily routine will be significantly impacted by transitioning to poker, then you’ll need to plan out exactly how that will happen, otherwise you are going to start cutting a lot of corners and lose motivation fast.

Additionally, playing hours, studying hours, etc. must also be planned out and results must be analyzed in order for you to adapt your long-term plans to changing situations. Being a poker pro has its perks, but you must be prepared to meet a lot of challenges.

4. All Poker Pros Have a Common Worst Enemy

The vast majority of poker pros will say that poker is a game of skill, which is absolutely true, but luck is also a part of the game, perhaps the most dreaded part. With expected win rates comes variance that can result in massive swings.

Even the best players can have losing or break-even months and that can take a toll in many different ways. Good bankroll management is something that will prevent financial trouble due to swings, but downswings can affect everything else about your game such as your confidence and approach to the game and, of course, they can cause tilt. Coming to terms with variance and not letting it affect you in any way is the single biggest victory any poker pro can achieve.

3. You Will Never Value Money Again

Poker pros can be ridiculously meticulous about the smallest details of their game, work incredibly hard to perfect their strategy and agonize endlessly over their mistakes, yet, the thing that matters most to most people, money, is something that rarely enters the mind of a poker pro.

While this may seem ironic, there is a good reason for this. There is no reason for attaching yourself to money in poker since, over a long period of time, you will win and lose a lot of it. Poker pros think about their winnings in terms of buy-in’s which allows them to distance themselves from money even further and be completely focused on their results.

Eventually, if you climb up the poker ladder high enough, you will notice that money will lose value to you outside of poker as well, which is actually one of the few positive side effects of poker.

2. It Takes Years and Years of Hard Work and Studying

There is a reason why the most successful people in their line of work reach that level of success, and that is relentless work.

You may be exceptionally talented and grasp every part of poker on the fly, but let’s be honest, there are only so many Michael Jordans. The rest of us have only one other way to succeed in our respective fields – hard work and dedication.

Most of the top poker pros have spent countless hours reading poker books, browsing poker forums, analyzing every aspect of their game and discussing hands with other pros. At some point it may seem that you know everything there is to know about poker, but every good poker pro knows, ‘If you stop learning, you stop earning.’

1. Being Successful at Poker Does Not Equal Happiness

Eventually, it’s all about being happy and as far as poker goes, the lifestyle it presents will not lead most people to happiness even if you achieve the goals you set for yourself.

You have to be a certain type of person and really love the game to really be happy while being a poker pro. If you choose this path and at some point realize that poker is not really bringing you as much happiness as you would like even though you are making good money, consider that this may not be the profession for you after all.

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Top 10 Things You Need to Know Before Turning Pro
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