At one time or another, all poker enthusiasts have entertained the idea of going pro. Unfortunately only a small fraction of those enthusiasts ever will. In fact, most of casual players don’t even have enough hands to determine if they’re really a winning player or not.
Going pro isn’t a decision you should take lightly. It’s a major step and you need to be prepared for it. Here’s a checklist to see if you’re ready to turn pro.
Are You A Winning Player?
I’d bet that 70% of the people reading this article would say yes. I’d also bet that 60% of those people would be wrong.
Have you been playing a few hours every day for the past few months and have shown a solid profit? That’s good, but it’s not enough.
Cash players need around 1,000,000 hands before they can trust their win rate. Sit N Go players need to log thousands of hours of game play to solidify their stats. I’d say a Sit N Go player needs a bare minimum of 2,000 hours of play. If you’re thinking of leaving your stable job to grind it out on the virtual felt, you should have around 10,000 SNGs under your belt and show a solid profit.
This is the hardest step to becoming a professional poker player because it’s the hardest question to answer honestly. Are you really a winning poker player?
Do You Have A Plan?
Once you determine you’re a winning player, you need to set a plan. When will you play? Will you play Texas Hold’em, Omaha or Razz? Will you play limit, pot-limit or no-limit? Will you play cash, Sit ‘N Goes, multi-table tournaments or a combination of the three?
How much do you need to make in a week? How much do you need to play to reach that goal? When will you take breaks? What happens if you start to lose?
There are a lot of questions that you need to answer. Make sure you answer them before taking the plunge.
Do You Have A Massive Bankroll?
A recreational player might be able to get away with playing the $30+3 SNGs with a $1500 bankroll, but not you. It’s not a minor inconvenience if you go broke, it’s a damn catastrophe! You need to have a bankroll big enough to handle the swings and still allow you to withdraw your profits every week. Be sure to check out our article published last week on bankroll management for professional tournament players.
Joe Average can play with $1500, but you could need as much as $7500 to play the same game.
Do You Have Discipline?
You can’t go party with your friends on Saturday night if that’s when the fish log on to your favorite poker room. You have to stick to your plan and play during the most profitable times of the day and week. Don’t get me wrong, you can still take off and have fun occasionally, just don’t overdo it.
Do you tilt easily? If so, you’ll need to get yourself under control before going pro. When you play 30 to 40 hours a week, you’re going to see a lot more bad beats. If you can’t handle it and you lose your cool, you’ll also lose a lot of money.
How Much Money Do You Have Saved?
You need a cushion of at least 6 month’s living expenses before you go pro. It’s even better to have a year of living expenses. This cushion will help you ride out the downswings and you can repay the money when you go on a good run.
Remember, you don’t have to go pro right away. Start off by playing part-time (around 10 to 20 hours/week) and see how it goes. When you have all of your ducks in a row and you’ve proven yourself to be a winning player, you can ditch the old 9-to5 and start living the dream.