The global COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted almost all industries and occupations around the world, and that includes the professional poker player. From playing live tournaments to crushing online, the poker pro has been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.
All action went from being live and at the felt for real to on a laptop, mobile device or tablet. For poker pros, life got tougher, but what if you aren’t currently a professional poker and want to become one? What could you do to put this pandemic to good use?
- Train Hard
Poker begins and ends in your own mind. Training, therefore, is as important to a poker player as anything else. From training videos to strategy articles, building a solid base of knowledge to be a poker player is the most important way to start.
There are many sites to train on, but while Upswing Poker might cater for more elite level players, they have free resources to learn from like many other sites such as PokerStars, partypoker or 888poker.
- Start Playing Online Poker
Playing online poker is the easiest path into the game of poker right now, certainly from a recreational perspective and from a professional one, too.
Which site you start on is down to personal choice, but it could hardly be a better time for you to try. With PokerStars, Unibet, partypoker, 888poker and GGPoker all providing great ways to start playing the game, start small and make sure that you review your hand histories and game sessions.
Playing online poker is not a surefire way to make profit and takes time to turn professional, but if you blend a routine of taking to the tables, whether you prefer tournaments or cash games, with your every day job, you can grow your presence and improve your results.
If you consistently make a profit, think about stepping up the levels, if the opposite happens, take your medicine and drop down the limits before trying again.
- Practice Game Selection
When you do start winning, you want to be practicing good bankroll management, never dipping into ‘real life’ funds and making strong choices about what you play. Now it’s time to analyse your results. When do you win and when do you lose?
Sometimes these can be fine margins, but it’s a little like being a sportsbettor for a business. You have to be cold-hearted with yourself, ruthless and honest above everything, certainly your ego. Like a sportsbettor might have to admit they’re no good at betting in-play compared to futures markets, you’re going to have to murder your darlings at this stage?
If you love playing big buy-in cash games but you’re losing money in them and them alone, you’re going to have to cash out and step away. If you love tournaments but win at cash games way more consistently, you might have to bone up on MTTs between cash games sessions while you make money.
Turning ‘pro’ isn’t about living some dream. It’s about turning something you’re good at into your career by choosing the optimal paths along the way. You can’t get stuck in the bushes, and poker is the best game in the world, because you’ll be able to step back into an area you leave behind in the future – it’s always going to be there waiting for you.
- Press Your Edge
Once you have established what you are most successful at as a poker player, it’s vital that you press your edge. In other words, this might simply mean to keep doing what you’re doing, but actually it’s a lot more specific advice than this.
I know a great player who makes tens of thousands a year playing Heads-Up games in NLHE and while he loves the big action in MTT events, many of his best results have got headlines without his best play being talked about. A big live score might attract the headlines, but his HU games are his bread and butter – his path to earning up to $50,000 a year. If that doesn’t sound glamorous enough for you, then poker might not be your game, because it takes enormous hard work to stay at that level and win consistently in an arena where it’s easy for players to avoid taking a shot against you.
- Convert Your Results into a Job
If you’re pressing your edge, making a consistent amount of profit and spending a lot of time playing poker it might be a strong decision to make the leap to going pro. Whether you can gradually fade out your existing day job or have the funds behind you to cut the parachute, you need to be professional about kicking off your career proper in poker.
Are you looking to build a long-term career in the game or is your ideal scenario getting so rich that you can afford to effectively retire or invest your money outside of poker? What is the worst thing that could happen and how would you cope with it financially? What hours are you going to work and how professional is your physical poker set-up in terms of technology and working environment?
All these questions should be considered deeply before you make the break, and even then you need to ask yourself whether you truly love the game. Are you always going to want to play for a job even if you’re experiencing the worst downswing of your life?
Can you cope and do the people around you respect playing poker as a job? The answers to these questions really do all need to be positive ones for you even to consider going pro and we wouldn’t advise you to do so unless they are.
If you have everything in place, however, the world is your oyster and poker is growing despite being restricted to online play at present. That will change in the future and if that’s the moment you hit the big time and win a major event, all the work with be worthwhile.
The only question remains… are you all-in? Or do you fold?