Playing poker for the majority of your income means you are a professional poker player. However, only around 1% of players will become successful poker pro players and be able to live a lavish lifestyle. Don’t be put off though. Becoming a professional poker player is a job option of many. However, it’s exactly that – a job. So like with an industry it takes a lot of hard work and commitment in order to make it work.
Who exactly is a poker professional?
And what do they need to make this a secure job choice?
Interestingly the answer is going to depend on a lot. For instance cost of living in your country of residence will influence how much you need to take home at the month end to cover rent, food and bills. Countries with cheaper living costs are going to need a much smaller total earnings per month to survive off. Compared to if you are living and playing poker in a developed country. These cheaper countries are in Eastern Europe, South America and parts of Asia.
Secondly, the amount of money required also depends on what lifestyle you wish to lead. It will be much easier to play poker at lower limits and win if you do not need to make lots of money. The amount you need to make to live comfortably will vary per individual. Those with more expensive tastes will need to win more.
Now that you know the considerations behind how much money you will spend monthly, most advice states that as far as living costs are concerned you should have three months worth saved up as a ‘Life Roll’ (larger in the case of tournaments). So that even if you have break even or have losing months, it won’t cause you to have to quit. Also it won’t affect you as much mentally, so you are less likely to tilt.
After you have enough living costs saved up, it’s time to think about how much money you need as capital in order to provide a solid bankroll. As a result of how large your ROI (Return on Investment) or bb/100 (Big Blinds per 100) are you can establish a basic expectation of how much you can make per hour at a given total roll or buy in.
For example, if you are playing $50nl 6max online. You will need 30 buy-ins or $1500 to have a low enough risk of ruin that you can continue to play indefinitely if you win over 4bb/100. If you 6 table these games and reach 500 hands per hour you can see that this translates to $10/ £6 an hour. This obviously is large in a cheaper country. However, it won’t pay the bills unless you work 50 hours a week in an expensive country. Or have an expensive taste…
Comfortable Living on as a Poker Pro
Most poker pro players agree that for a comfortable living you need to earn $20-30 per hour. This is to maintain a stable lifestyle without worrying too much.
The larger your hourly rate is at a given game the fewer hours you will need to play in order to reach the target monthly income you have in mind. Note however that in poker you have to put in work off the tables as well as on. So for every 10 hours played you might spend 1-2 hours working on your strategy or going over previous hands to identify ways to improve. This has to be in your total time spent. Therefore, your hourly is going to be lower.
As far as the question how much time and money do you need, it all depends on the above factors. Beyond those you also need to have a stable mentality a hard work ethic and be self-motivated. If you fit all these criteria and have a large enough life and bankroll that you can continue to always play poker, then you are the right person to be a professional!