Turning Pro in 2015

Becoming a full time poker professional has certainly lost some of allure since the “golden days” of the last decade. Many things have changed, while others have stayed exactly the same. Overall, the dream has lost some of its appeal. However, there are still people who consider committing to poker full time and this article will try to outline some of the factors to consider in today’s climate.

Jason Mercier


One of the things that hasn’t really changed is that devoting oneself full time to poker requires an inordinate amount of determination. Despite all the exposure and media attention, poker is still widely regarded as mere gambling. This is especially true in smaller, less developed countries, where WSOPs and WPTs and such are not aired on television round the clock.

Forget about the idea that you will show everyone your graphs and explain that playing poker for a living is a job and that what you do makes sense; this is a battle very few have won. You can fully expect that your girlfriend of five years will tell you how afraid she is for your future. If you truly are interested in turning pro, that’s cool, but be ready to face some adversity from those closest to you; if you somehow avoid that, you are probably running pretty well.

Learn, learn, learn…

Poker may have been a gold mine once. Some people turned pennies into millions. But the times have changed and if playing poker is what you want to do, be prepared to spend a lot of time learning. The standards of play have moved up to an all new level and to be successful, you have to stay ahead of the curve.

Grind, grind, grind…

Money in poker comes from one thing, and one thing alone, and that’s volume. After all the serious studying about poker you have done, it is time to put in an equally serious amount of game sessions and play a decent volume of hands. Sounds like a lot of work? That’s probably because it is. While poker will give you some freedom, you will still be spending a lot of hours in front of your computer. Not to put you off, but if you are not ready to do that, maybe turning pro is not the best idea.

Find something you enjoy and time to enjoy it

Playing poker for a living has never been that easy, and as the game became tougher, the mental strain connected with the game grew tougher to handle as well. This is why it is paramount to find something you thoroughly enjoy to which you can turn to after a long day at the tables.

It doesn’t have to be anything special, but it has to be something that will turn your thoughts away from the bad beats, EV calculations and trying to figure out what exactly a 3-bet of 10% from the button means. While these things are super useful at the tables, if they become your entire life, you could become miserable in no time. If that happens, the entire idea behind turning pro is kind of lost.

To sum it up

Becoming a poker pro in 2015 is not something to be taken lightly. You should probably have a decent winning record under your belt before even thinking about it. Other than that and the factors already mentioned, there is also the variance. With tougher games, the variance is bound to increase as well.

If you need to pay day to day expenses and have nothing to fall back on, the moment to turn pro is probably not right for you. Poker can be stressful as it is and you don’t really need any added pressure like the threat of your power being cut because you can’t afford to pay the bills.

There are so many things to consider apart from those listed here, but to avoid the tl;dr territory, I’ll stop here. If all these do not deter you and it is something you can deal with, more power to you. Maybe you can make your dream come true.

As a final word - the universal advice that we’ve all heard so many times: just be smart about it.

Picture credit: Jason Mercier playing at the 2008 European Poker Tour Grand Final in Monte Carlo, Sirex98, flickr, CC-BY-2.0.


Ivan PotockiIvan Potocki is a veteran Titan Poker player who was born in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and spent part of his childhood under war conditions. He studied English language and literature and discovered Texas Hold’em while in college. After working different jobs he turned to poker full time and this serves as his main source of income.


Further Reading:  

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Texas Hold'em Poker Guide

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