How To Become A Professional Poker Player

Pro Poker Players

For many British gamblers, becoming a professional poker player is the ultimate dream. Meanwhile, professional poker players are increasingly getting their start online.

Curious? Read our guide to going pro to discover different ways to make your mark, the benefits of going pro, and incentive to being a casino online poker professional in the United Kingdom. While it’s possible to make a living playing poker without leaving your flat, not everyone has the stomach for it.

Becoming a Professional Player

Ask a hundred different professional poker players how they got their start and you’ll hear a hundred different stories. Like any profession, there are multiples ways to break into the industry, but here are a few things you’ll hear players mention time and time again:

  • Playing at online casinos - professional poker players know that the internet offers fertile ground for growing your game and bankroll. Most poker sites offer daily tournaments where it's possible to pick up some top real cash prizes.
  • Taking it offline - increasingly, land-based casinos seeking to compete with sites on the Internet are hosting poker tournaments
  • Major tournaments - professional poker players go after the big money wherever it is. These events are sometimes invite only and can have large real money buy-ins, so they aren’t necessarily a match for every budget.

Unfortunately, there’s also a lot of hard graft in becoming a professional poker player and supporting yourself solely from your poker winnings. Cruising low stakes games looking to build up your bankroll slowly but surely is a strategy adopted by many ambitious players around the world. The question is always if you can make the strategies work for you, and at what cost?

Why Go Professional?

The biggest draw for many players is the freedom of escaping the office job and forging a new and exciting career in the casino world. Professional gamblers are their own bosses and stand to make huge amounts of money. Of course, they stand to lose large sums of money, too.

With large-scale televised tournaments, the best professional poker players are treated like celebrities and can make huge sums of real cash through endorsement deals. For those of us who can't play an instrument, being a certified poker pro is the closest we’ll ever get to being a rock star. It’s this dream that most have in mind when they start thinking seriously about becoming a poker professional, even if very few players ever reach such a high level. Those thinking about going pro should keep in mind that their winnings are typically tax free, but some professional players have a small side business subject to self-employment tax.

Players Who’ve Made it Big

Although becoming a professional gambler or pro poker player is no sure bet, some of the top talent have made it happen for themselves. Let’s see who the big names are:

Pro Poker Players

Daniel Negreanu - A legend in pro poker, Negreanu was named the Global Poker Index player of the decade for his performance at live events like the WSPO Main Event tournaments. Negreanu is also the only player to win World Series bracelets in Las Vegas, Europe and Australia. He’s amassed a whopping US$34 million in poker winnings.

Erik Seidel - Seidel falls just behind Negreneau in earnings, and has also been at the game since back before the internet boom. He carved a name for himself a stellar finish at the 1988 WSOP Main Event, and has even had parts of his career featured in the film ‘Rounders.

Phil Ivey - Ivey got his start in poker out of sheer determination, playing underage (using an alias) at New Jersey casinos. With US$23 million in poker winnings, he’s won nine WSOP bracelets over his career. He has multiple first place wins at high stakes tournaments.

Vanessa Selbst - Educated at MIT and Yale, Selbst made a splash in the poker scene as the first woman to ever rank number one on the Global Poker Index. She has over US$11.8 million in live poker tournament earnings and three WSOP bracelets.

Just for Fun

It's easy to see why so many Brits find the idea of becoming a professional poker player attractive. Who wouldn’t love total freedom, financial independence and notoriety? And let’s not forget about playing the game you love for a living. But it’s not all royal flushes.

Some players get tired of betting on a game that they’ve loved all their lives, and find that the added pressure detracts from the fun. Others struggle just to break even with their bankroll, and never turn a profit playing professionally. Even the best professional players put themselves at higher risk, standing to lose thousands of pounds of their own money every year. Compare this with how you feel after even a small loss at an online casino. If you’re not a fan of high stakes situations and prefer a more predictable income, gambling might be better kept as a hobby.

A Final Word

Whether you play live or at casinos online, professional poker players and their track records vary widely. You might not realise it, but many pro poker players in the UK and elsewhere aren’t as successful as they appear. Many of them are simply independently wealthy and can afford to purchase buy-ins to high stakes events. We’re not mentioning this to deter you from enjoying the action at casinos online, of course, but we want our readers to have realistic expectations. In many ways, professional poker players mirror capitalism. It’s easier to churn a high bankroll if you have some money to begin with.

Still, if you can hack it, it’s a life like no other. No decision is final, either. If you have the talent, why not start slow and steady, giving professional play a try while building your bankroll.

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