Poker is one of the oldest and most well known games at the casino, yet it is also one of the most popular games today still. Thanks to new and continually evolving technologies, poker has never been more accessible to people across the world, including newbie players. This technology has meant that there has been a shift in the demographics of traditional poker players too, in which around 10 per cent of players are now women.
Additionally, while many people are playing poker as a hobby online or at the casino, it has never been easier to pursue poker as a profession, with five per cent of today’s poker players being women also. However, as poker is a game of strategy, players need a great deal of knowledge, skill and experience in order to become a successful professional poker player.
Below, we will take a look at how to become a professional poker player and the key skills that are needed to succeed.
Study, study, study
While a career playing poker may seem like the dream, it takes far more graft than many people realise, with professional poker players spending between two and eight hours on a poker session, and many more hours putting in practice and studying outside of this.
The fact is that poker players never stop learning and no matter how much you study there is always going to be a scenario where you could lose. As a result, poker players need to keep on top of their game at all times and study throughout their career. Whether you’re learning the best poker ranking hands or how to master the flop, you need to be prepared to put in the hours.
If you’re the type that avoids studying like the plague then a career as a professional poker player may not be for you.
Having real life experience in addition to studying is what is going to make you the strongest poker player possible. The simplest way to get in practice is by registering at as many of the top online poker sites as possible. This will expose you to all types of players at different levels, as well as a variety of different and natural scenarios to get your prepared for anything that is thrown your way.
It’s best to start at free tables and low level stakes games, as well as free tournaments that will allow you to experience as many highs and lows as possible. This will help you to gain confidence at the table, and when it comes to your poker face, confidence is the thing that will enable you to master this.
While it may feel frustrating starting at the bottom if you’re an experienced player, it is best to start small and aim big.
In order to be a successful poker player, you need to know which is the best hand to use in any given situation, and this will take you learning every possible hand over and over until you can visualise it instantly in your mind as you are playing.
A good way to do this is to study charts of hand arrangements which have a positive expected value. This could be under the gun, the big blind or the button for example. The key here is to train yourself to trust your own mind and not simply play the hands that your opponent wants you to play.
It will take time to memorise and get it to come naturally, but once you do, it will be as if you suddenly got a lightbulb to work in a dark room.
Become a great bluffer
Playing poker successfully is all about bluffing. Being able to keep your opponent guessing will be the element that allows you to win the game overall.
A good bluffer has the power to make their opponent fold or con them into a false sense of confidence in the game, only to turn the tables at the last minute. Professional poker players have the ability to smell out a bluff from a newbie player, so don;t be disheartened if you get caught out to start with. It takes a lot of time and practice to get good at this skill.
Overall, learning to play poker to a professional level can be incredibly time consuming and challenging, especially on your emotions. Yet, if you follow the above advice and really persevere, the results are completely worth all of the graft and emotional roller coasters that are required to succeed.