Thinking about going pro? Not so fast

November 22, 2017, Mark Brement  

Today’s game is solid. Most players at your table are amateurs. Though they’re not pros, they play the game well and have a primary source of income. By definition, they can afford to lose a little and chalk it up to a bad day. So what differentiates a hobby player from a pro? Probably dedication to the game. If you are a hobby player and are a consistent winner, it might be best to keep things the way they are and enjoy the extra winnings.

As a coach, every year I receive emails from players wondering if they should take it to the next level and play for a living. I have five ideas on this subject:

Real players have the guts to own their results. In texts and conversations with me, my superstar students never use words such as “running bad” and “fish or donkey” and “suckout” and when we run through hands, the hands are relayed in a thoughtful, calm manner. I have heard this described as embracing variance, but let me add if you book three consecutive losses, do not embrace variance. Find your leak. Own your numbers.
Pro players have the ability to strike the delicate balance between on-the-table tactics and off-the-table disciplines. One has to play well and it must not be lost on you that a healthy lifestyle, which includes diet, exercise and rest, will keep a player sharp.

Pros see their plan through and know well in advance how long their session will be. Also, they use smart and efficient bankroll management strategies. Schedule your days off. Work your plan.

Poker can be a fun game and I have many students who have played part-time and maintained respectable hourly wages. As soon as a player decides to play for a living, things get tough. Having family 100 percent behind the idea is a great place to start.

The ability to be at the right game is an art. That game might be right next to you or it might be down the street. Pros have a knack for sniffing out an edge. Looking for a good game? Follow the laughter.

Pros should be well-versed in more than just one game. While different games require different skill-sets, take the time to learn a range of games. Make sure you’re doing some off-the-table work and an hour a day is a great place to start. It’s a great idea to enlist a partner to maybe have lunch with once a week to discuss ideas and results.

Even better, join a poker group. I had a group that met on Wednesdays for five-plus years and we had a healthy variety of player-types and all who participated reaped the rewards. And, of course, get a coach!

— Mark Brement has spent 15 years teaching and coaching all facets of poker, including at Pima CC. Email him at brementmark@gmail.com.