Everyone who gambles has the dream of hitting it big, breaking the bank, and beating the casinos. A few of you likely have the dream of hitting it big as a pro poker player. Even if you don’t feel like you’ll ever be able to hit the table with Moneymaker, you might want to simply make a living in an interesting job with a lot of stories behind it. If you want to be a pro, there are a few things you’ll need to know first. Be a Math Whiz When you’re playing, you’ll have to crunch a lot of numbers. You’ll get to know the odds of the hand you’re gunning for and how much the other players have to lose. You’ll get an idea of how your bets make other people react and how they use their numbers to their advantage. Beyond using your math skills for that, you’ll need to… Keep Track of Everything Not only will you need math at the table, you’ll need math in your home life as well. You’ll need to break down your own statistics and look into the statistics of your opponents. Make sure you know both very well. Before you make the decision to go pro, make sure you’re keeping track of everything you win or lose and how you came to that result. Every hand, every game, and every dime needs to be accounted for. Make sure your stats are passable and, if you are thinking of leaving your day job, make sure you’re making at least as much as you are currently making (preferably you’ll be making more). During the initial stages of your journey… Prepare to Lose Money When you’re on the journey to becoming a pro poker player, you’ll lose plenty of times and plenty of money. You’ll have to know when to play and when to fold. Sometimes folding will happen more often than you’d like it to. After all, you should… Never Rely on Luck The only time you even want to think about luck is when you’re thinking about everything that could possibly go wrong in a game. Assume luck isn’t on your side. Even the worst poker player knows that you can be immediately dealt a royal flush. Put that right out of your head. Always depend on your strategy. In order to make your strategy as good as it can be, always… Practice, Practice, Practice No player just goes out and turns on their Rain Man mentality. They painstakingly analyze every hand, compare their statistics when they’re trying new and old strategies, talk to other players, and play online to hone their skills. In order to get some good practice in… Play Against Better People This goes hand-in-hand with never relying on luck and preparing to lose money. You’ll always want to get better. Getting better means playing against people that are more experienced than you. After all, if you’re just playing against people you can easily beat, you’re not developing new strategies and figuring out how the pros do it. You’re still playing the equivalent of a house game. It’s when you consistently beat your betters that you know you’ve improved. While you’re playing against better players and might be losing, it’s incredibly important to… Stay Self-Motivated When you’re a pro poker player, no one is going to reprimand you or fire you for not showing up. It’s absolutely necessary to motivate yourself and know that every day you don’t play is a day you’re not getting better and not making money. It may be difficult in the face of better players and in the face of stacked odds, but it’s one of the key elements of being a pro. Self-motivation is especially hard when things change suddenly, but… Be Adaptable You’ll see a million changes a minute, both in a game and out of the game. Being able to change with the tides will help you hone your skills and stay on target more often than not. You’ll adapt to other players during a game and adapt to financial changes if your skills aren’t at the level you’re aspiring to. And if you need to adapt yourself to get back into the regular work force, don’t feel bad… Most Pros Don’t Stay Pro for Long Professional poker is incredibly competitive and incredibly demanding. Many people can’t cut it when they are looking it in the face. Most players feel like they can make the jump immediately from a house game with their buddies to playing for real money. While you might be able to consistently beat your peers, you may find out that you’re outmatched by people just above your level. Whether it’s self-motivation, not keeping track of stats and financials, or deciding not to practice, most people drop out before they even really get started. Being a pro is significantly harder than people give it credit for, as is the case with any professional in entertainment, sport, or gaming. Being able to enact just a few tips, and make a few strategies of your own, should keep you in the game longer and make you a lot more money.