How to Fund Your Travels By Becoming a Professional Poker Player
Looking for a way to make money as you travel the world? Playing online poker could be the answer…
Lots of people think that winning at poker is about luck. If you get the right cards, you win, right? Well why is it that the same 10 or so people seem to always make it to the final table at the World Series of Poker? Are these people just extremely lucky?
Clearly there’s something else going on here…
The simple fact is that most people don’t play poker well. They just play for fun, and they don’t REALLY know what they’re doing.
They might have some idea of what to do in certain situations (e.g. always raise with pocket Aces), but do they know how to act if they’re drawn with Queen-Ten against the raise in late position? Probably not.
Make no mistake, there’s nothing wrong with playing poker for fun, but if you want to be profitable over the long-term it’s going to take more than that.
I proceeded to spend the next 3 months studying Texas Hold ‘em poker and learning the game inside out.
My friend and I would spend long journeys testing each other by making dummy hands, calculating pot odds, possible ‘outs’ and asking the other player what they would do in each situation.
I have met several professional poker players during my travels – each of them making very decent money (more than enough to travel on) for around 5 hours of work each day.
Texas Hold ‘em
For the poker players of today, Texas Hold ‘em is THE game of choice, which explains why tens of thousands (or possibly hundreds of thousands) of people play it every day around the world and online.
When I talk about ‘poker’ (and when most people talk about poker) they are really talking about ‘Texas Hold ‘em’, which is a variation of the standard card game of poker.
If you’re new to the game and don’t know the rules, check out the Texas Hold ‘em Wikipedia page.
Can I Learn Poker, Or Is It Only for the Super-Brainy?
When I talk to people about playing poker professionally, they often think that only people with exceptional intelligence and a gift for mathematics can do it (perhaps they’re thinking that playing poker well is like ‘counting cards’ at blackjack).
This is because you need to stay calm at all times when playing poker. Getting wound up and chasing after a loss will only lead to losing money, and is the mark of an amateur poker player.
In addition to this, you’ll often need to be able to calculate within a couple of seconds whether you should fold, call or raise, and this is done by calculating your chance of winning and considering the potential rewards.
Of course, there are basic formulas for this, and as you gain experience within the game you’ll see similar patterns coming up again and again to the point where you’ll know exactly what to do in an instant.
Pros and Cons of Playing Poker Professionally Online
There are many pros and cons to playing poker online professionally. Let’s take a look:
- No qualifications needed.
- Don’t need to be ‘Rainman’.
- Can be location independent.
- There’s nothing like the thrill you’ll get from turning over pocket Aces or winning a large pot ‘on the river’.
- You have to put some serious time and effort in (and even then it’ll take a while to get good).
- It’s not for everyone.
- The novelty of playing may wear off (meaning it’s best if you have a love for the game (or at least a major interest) to begin with).
- You can’t put it on resume/CV, meaning future employers may look upon your time playing poker questionably.
- Unlike most jobs, there’s no room for career development, networking or camaraderie with other workmates – it’s just you, a laptop and a virtual room full of strangers all trying to take each other’s money.
How it Works
If you were playing poker at a table with 5 other opponents, all of them played pokers flawlessly (i.e. ‘perfect poker’), it would be almost impossible for you to make money on a consistent basis (and how much money you made would in fact come down to luck).
Thankfully, opponents that play perfect poker are almost non-existent (or at least extremely rare), meaning that they are entirely beatable.
I recommend playing in small stakes poker games, as opponents are more likely to make errors (and bigger errors) than in high stakes games, meaning there’s massive potential to make money.
The aim is not to win the most pots/hands, but to win the most money. This means that when the odds are against you, you fold for a small loss, and when the odds are with you, you raise for a big profit. In the end you make money when the money you earn from your big wins is more than the money you lose from your multiple small loses.
As a simplified example, let’s say that you’re playing at a table with five other opponents and you have estimated (correctly) that your Ace-King will win the pot approximately one out of every four times.
Should you raise here? Risking on extra bet (by raising) to win five extra bets (from your five opponents) is a good idea in this situation, as your Ace-King will win one out of every four times, making this a profitable long-term strategy.
The difficulty with poker is that on each hand you do not know two very important pieces of information: Your opponent’s hand and how they will respond to your actions.
Fortunately, people are fairly predictable (especially in low stakes games), and we can make certain assumptions about what hand they have based on how they react to our actions.
It’s also worth noting that while you don’t also know which board cards will come up (i.e. ‘the flop’, ‘the turn’ and ‘the river’) the odds of these can easily be calculated based on probability.
Books You Need to Read
When I say I spent those 3 months learning about poker, most of my learning was done by reading these are the two books from cover to cover (or which I did multiple times), and I cannot recommend them highly enough.
While I have given you a basic introduction to how you can play poker and make enough money from it to travel, I couldn’t possibly fit all of the information that these books cover into one article (or even 10 articles).
The first book (the red one) is a beginner’s guide, and is more than enough to get you started and earning enough money to travel on.
The second book (the yellow one) is for advanced players looking to play big.
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