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Tips for the Professional Player

How to make a good living from online poker

by Joseph 'Burgh86' Falchetti on October 10, 2011 10:12 AM

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I’ve been a poker pro for over seven years, at first playing limit hold em up to $30/$60 limit. I then transitioned to no limit hold em playing $1/$2 no limit up to $5/$10 both live and online.

The sites I frequented most were Poker Stars and the now defunct Full Tilt Poker. I’ve learned a lot of the years being a pro, and definitely made some mistakes I wish I could take back.

Learning from your mistakes, in your game and in your life as a pro will be the only way you will advance your game and improve your quality of life, at the table and away from it.

Bankroll Management

As a poker professional a proper bankroll is the most important thing for your success, while this will sound obvious to some people I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen extremely talented players forget this.

For no limit at minimum 25 buy ins is a must but I would suggest using 50 buy ins. Limit hold em in terms of big bets, I would suggest between 300-600 big bets, obviously the more bankroll the better.

Another tough area for poker professionals is shot taking and moving up in limits, if you are currently raking in your games and see a very good game at a higher stake, taking a shot can be a great idea.

However, set a stop loss for yourself first and stick to it, remember you should be looking for great games to take shots in with poor players. In these games variance will be higher due to the poor play of your opponents, so don’t ride yourself too hard if you lose.

Be objective, look over your hands and be honest about your play. Having a sufficient bankroll is the basis for success as a pro, without it you aren’t giving yourself a fair chance to succeed.

Ego and Poker Goals

I can remember so many times in my first couple months of playing poker, as just amateur how many times I went broke. I ran up a few thousand dollars and then promptly lost it in a few hours. I didn’t know what a bankroll was and I had this dream of winning million dollar tournaments in Las Vegas or playing in the biggest cash games in the world.

It sounds crazy and it is, but the reality is poker players have huge egos which cloud their judgment, make them tilt, and worst of all cause them to forget what the point of playing poker is, to win money.

Just because you are beating the 5-10 no limit on poker stars for 8bb/100, a great win rate does not mean you have to move up to 10-20 nl. Of course, as you progress as a poker pro you want to learn and get better, but there is no rush.

In fact if you never feel comfortable playing 10-20 no limit, you shouldn’t feel like you need to move up. Move up at your own pace, not because you think you should, but after you know you are ready to take your game to the next level.


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Game Selection

I was luckily taught early in my professional poker career to recognize the value of a great game full of poor players. I am still amazed at the amount of players that continuously play in games that are full of other professionals or profitable poker players.

The single most important thing in poker is playing in games with bad players. There are so many poker players playing 8-10 tables never giving a second thought to game selection.

They’ll have a hand goal set for the month and they’ll tirelessly play until they meet it. Most are still profitable especially with rake back, but try playing 2-3 tables at a time, of the best games you can find on the internet.

There are so many sites and programs today that finding a few great games at each stake is simple. Try playing fewer tables against the worst opponents you can find, it isn’t about quantity of hands, it is about the quality of hands.

Poker Lifestyle and Emotions

For some the professional poker lifestyle almost seems like an extension of their college years, having irregular hours, not having to get up for a so called “real job” and just having that unrestricted freedom.

The more serious you take the professional part of poker professional, the more success you will have as a pro. Have a clean workspace to sit and grind at. Don’t play in a bad mood or when you are distracted.

Poker is somewhat unique in the sense that our feelings can translate directly into our play, don’t play angry or upset, there will always be other games and other fish.

Exercising and eating healthy which is good for everyone, can help your concentration at the table. Barry Greenstein says that having a consistent sex partner has done wonders for his game. So, getting lucky may help you get lucky!

Life as a poker pro is not for everyone. It has its ups and downs and can certainly be a rollercoaster ride of emotions. There will never be a time where you’ve learned enough about poker, the information is unlimited. Read every book you can, review your sessions, and be honest with yourself about your progress.

Good luck with your poker goals




Not all poker rooms are made equal and most poker pros know it. There are more pros playing at pokerstars than any other poker room as PokerStars is the online poker room with the largest selection both of tournaments and ring games at all stake levels including NL1000 and above.


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