Do You Have What It Takes?
The mind of poker players are often the subject of speculation but the truth is that most of the famous poker players are not as surprising as some may think. They are often seen as either withdrawn and quippy mavericks or cocky rascals who would arrive into any casino and just sweep the floor, taking solid winnings on their way out. As true as this may be the case with some players, most successful players are actually just like you and me, with the exception of being talented at poker. Before you think you may have found yourself a new career, let’s take a look at some of the most important traits and facts about professional poker players and see how fit you are for this profession.
#1 Can You Handle a Big $$$$ Win?
Probably the most important factor that separates a long-term professional gamer, or anyone else for that matter, is the ability to handle your money. It can be tempted to win a large sum and spend it all at the after party - believe us it has happened more than once. However, to stay in “the game,” the trick is to survive the losses.
#2 Can You Handle a Big Loss?
Just because you see them at their best doesn't mean much, It’s quite difficult to see what’s really in their minds. These players tend to lose a lot and all the time, which is just as depressing for them as it is for you as a fan. Many of the poker players out there start out by grinding online card rooms. When there's no legal option, they head for offshore websites, hoping to amass enough money and experience to actually take on a few live events.
However, even the best players lose a lot and to all sorts of players. This is just the nature of the game. Of course, there are a few players who win consistently at big events, but this is not least because other players have to also deal with the psychological factor – i.e. they are playing against a big name in the game.
#3 Are You Passionate About the Game?
Many people who get involved in the game initially do so for one specific reason only – i.e. the game has the potential of bringing them money, which is an always welcome prospect. However, most professional players out there first mention things as the complexity of the game and the ability to outwit others, for example. Why? Because poker is a passion, not merely a way to fund one's proclivities. In the big picture, however, money is the driving factor, but somehow, the best of the best, always cite reasons. Some are fond of uncertainty, others were actually into trade card games such as Magic: The Gathering, as kids – competed in a few tournaments and thought that maybe they could do this, but better and in actual real money tournaments.
#4 Do You Need a 9-5 Work?
If so, then this job is not for you. You might think that winning millions worth of dollars is an easy thing to do, but it's actually a lot of hard work and many hours invested. If you count all the time needed to study and learn the game you get to some really long working days. So behind a successful poker player there is in fact a lot of hard work. Just ask Maria Konnikova or Phil Ivey. These are two of the biggest names in the history of the game.
Konnikova is important for another reason altogether. A PhD researcher, she decided to teach herself poker and her winnings have reached the whopping $296,267 in just two years of study and play. In an interview for the New York Times, Konnikova revealed her secret – a lot of study and practice. Theory and actual hands-on experience with the game.
In just two years, Konnikova has completed the 10,000 hours rule whereby in order to master any specific trade, you would need roughly 10,000 hours of practice – and that is conscientious effort. Simply being there wouldn't help.
#5 Can You Deal with Anxiety?
You think that their poker face is real? Yes, professional poker players can display an outward calmness, but what you didn't know is that inside their head, calculations, doubt, and worry is constantly spinning around. They do know how to calm their mind and stay focus, but they are constantly under pressure to perform. Being patient and able to control your emotions are important traits of any professional player.
Yes, just as an opponent can be intimidated by Phil Ivey, so is Ivey anxious to perform well, especially when playing in front of a live audience. In other words, poker pros are people just like ourselves and no matter how much time and effort they invest, they will still have to address this most common of conditions that is anxiety.
If you scored 5 out of 5 then perhaps you really have what it takes. To a professional player, poker is just “a job.” To us it may look like a very glamorous job but it’s hard work with a heavy price. Managing a family life with professional poker has turned out to be a great challenge. At the end of the day, no matter how passionate you are about the game, most poker players agree that being on top and always making a living by playing poker is never easy!
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