So You Want To Go Pro?
Poker Strategy Tips and
Lessons from Rafe Furst
Three Myths About Playing
Poker Professionally
Poker Lessons and Tips from
the pros.
Pro Poker Tips and Lessons
Get the best poker playing advice and strategy from the worlds best poker
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Rafe Furst
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Tips From The Pros
Rafe Furst
Lesson: 19
So You Wanna Go Pro


At the final table of this year's World Series of Poker, the media consensus
was that there was only one pro at the table: Mike Matusow. We've since
learned that this year's champ, Joseph Hachem, gave up a 13-year
chiropractic career three years ago to play poker for a living. The other seven
players at the final table won over a million dollars each. It's a safe bet that a
few of them now consider themselves poker professionals. What does that
mean?

Three Myths About Playing Poker Professionally

Myth #1: Either I'm a Pro or I'm Not

Consider the following players. Which ones are pros and which are amateurs?

Adam

Adam plays the tournament trail full-time. He's up thousands one month, and
broke the next. He's always borrowing money from fellow poker players. He
has no life outside the poker world and constantly thinks, "I wish I had some
skills and experience that would allow me to get a normal job."

Betty

By day, Betty's an accountant making $50K a year. She plays poker in her
spare time. Some years she earns $20K playing poker, other years she earns
$100K. She rarely has a losing year.

Charlie

Charlie picked up the game a year ago, entered his first tournament - the
prestigious "WPT London" - and won it with flair and showmanship. He
netted $500K and got a ton of TV coverage. He blew through $350K in the
next 11 months playing every big event with no cash finishes. He's still got a
bankroll, thanks to some juicy endorsement contracts from an online site and
a beer company that guarantee him $1 Million a year for the next three
years. All he has to do is continue to play in every major tournament and
endorse their products.

Debbie

Debbie has a bankroll of $500K, She makes (or loses) anywhere from -$50K
to +$200K per year playing a very erratic schedule. That schedule is
structured around the good games, whether they're offline, online or on the
tourney trail. She travels to far-off lands whenever she feels like it, and has
plans to settle down and start a family. Someday. But not now.

Eddie

Eddie only plays online, He clocks in, plays exactly eight hours a day, five
days a week, at four simultaneous tables no higher than $5-$10 limit hold
'em. He earns a surprisingly consistent $100/hr, takes the family on vacation
twice a year, plays tennis, and attends opera on the weekends.

Myth #2: I Would be so Much Happier if I Could Just Play Poker Full Time

TRUE: It's fun playing an hour or two each day.

BUT: It might not be so fun playing all the time to the exclusion of other
interests, family and friends.

TRUE: It's low-stress and entertaining, playing as a hobby.

BUT: It might be very stressful if you have to grind it out to pay the bills every
month.

TRUE: Those big tourney winners on TV live like rock stars.

BUT: What about the other 99% of the players you don't see, all of whom are
competing for your dream.

Myth #3: I Don't Need a Big Bankroll to be a Pro

Check the long list of Former World Champions who have gone a full year
without making the final table of a major event. As of this writing, it takes
roughly $500K to enter all the major tournaments in a year.

Ask your favorite pro how many times he or she has gone bust in their
career, or how many times they have been hit up for a sizable cash loan from
one of their good friends.

Poker is a great game; it's tons of fun, and it has never been as potentially
profitable as it is today. But try to keep it in perspective.

Poker doesn't have to consume your life. You can make a good chunk of
change playing poker, and you can do it without giving up all the good things
you have going in your life.

Financially, mentally and socially, you are better off making poker fit into your
life rather than the other way around.

Getting back to the players in the introduction, it's clear that Eddie is a pro.
And it's equally clear (to me anyway) that Adam is definitely not, even though
he thinks he is, and so does the general public. Adam is a dime a dozen in
the poker world. You've even seen him and his ilk on TV a number of times.
As for the other three, I don't know whether I'd call them pros or not, but I
sure wouldn't mind being in their shoes.

"Professional" is just a word. Being a professional poker player is not the
same thing as being a successful poker player.

Bottom line: You don't need to be a professional to be a poker champion.

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