Feb 25, 2018

In the past year, I’ve received several messages from young players who recently completed their graduation and just started their first jobs. My assumption is that they are all around 22-25 years old.  They usually have three questions for me – the first one being “Do you have a boyfriend”, the second one is “What are you doing” and the third one is “I want to quit my job. How do I become a full-time Poker player”… 

This post aims to answer the last question since I’m pretty sure the first two questions, as entertaining as they may be, are not of much relevance to any discussion around Poker!

 Most of us who play Poker have been seduced by the siren song – play Poker all day long, make a lot of money and live the Poker lifestyle that the Pros enjoy. But the reality is not as fantastically uplifting - this siren lures you with a golden dream that leaves many players broken on the rocks of despair and consumed by the sea of disappointment.

 I’ve read a number of articles that keep reinforcing the idea that the 9 to 5 grind in a “regular” job is the death knell to any cool, hip young Poker player.  I mean, how could you be perceived as glamorous and sexy if you work as an IT analyst or a junior HR executive when you could be living the high life as a full-time Poker professional? ut like the saying goes: 

Poker is a hard way to make easy money.  In fact, there is no such thing as easy money.

 Let’s look at the statistics.  The average tournament player will get in the money 10% of the time while an expert player usually gets in the money 15% of the time.  That means as an average tournament player, one is losing 90% of the time!

 When it comes to cash game players, they have to deal with downswings that sometimes go on for more than a few weeks.

 It may seem like I’m being negative but I’m not here to discourage anyone from playing Poker - in fact, it’s the opposite.  

Instead of looking at becoming a full-time Poker player in the early years of your work life, wouldn’t it be amazing to have a second income from Poker? Working hard at your job will help you with discipline, playing Poker as a hobby in the evenings will help you with patience and focus, while playing without the pressure of having to make rent money will make you fall in love with the game even more! 

 My advice to all of you out there who feel like you want to make Poker your career, follow these simple steps and then decide whether it is the right path for you and at what point in your life can you afford to so. 

  1. Keep a separate bank account for your bankroll whether it is Rs. 5,000, Rs. 50,000 or Rs. 5 Lakhs.
  2. Read as much as you can on Bankroll Management, then make a plan and stick to it.
  3. Play on only trusted Poker sites or in legitimate Poker rooms.
  4. Keep track of every single tournament or cash game you play and review your profit or loss each week.
  5. Study hard and continually improve your game.
  6. If you are a consistent player, apply to a reputed stable to get staked and receive coaching.
  7. Give yourself a year or two to see whether you are making money – enough to live on or more than enough as a second income.

 I would also suggest that you look around the Poker circuit and talk to some of the most successful, profitable players.  You will soon realize that most of them have jobs or own businesses. 

 There are very few young players who play Poker for a living without a financial safety net. Those that do are consistently winning players who have been playing for a few years, who work very hard on their game and other aspects such as mental/physical strength. By all means, be inspired by them, but don’t jump into taking up Poker as a career by being ill-informed or because of your ego.

 And, the next time anyone asks me what I am doing at 11:30 on any given night, I will send you a picture of me – not twerking at the MTV Pool Party, or sipping champagne on Dan B’s yacht – but in my pajamas grinding The Big 1 Lakh tourney on Baazi.  Not glamorous or sexy in any way, I can assure you.  More like Animal from The Muppet Show. That’s the reality of the life of a full-time Poker Pro ;-)

 

Relative position is a position where you are sitting at the table in relation to the player who raised pre-flop. It plays an essential role for your winning, particularly in Hold’em poker as you can always benefit from the fact that you are going last and you have better prospects to evaluate the moves of your opponents. For example, there are two players playing before you and first player bet and second player fold. Here the last one that is you on the button can check to close the button. It begins the cycle of actions all over among the players involved in the hand when someone bets on the flop.

We all know the advantages of the last position, but a problem occurs when a player to your immediate right makes a raise before the flop and another player after you call. Relative position can help you make money off the fish, and help you create a bigger pot when you have a hand. Usually, there are two types of relative position-

Relative to a certain player- At this position, you can entail extra bets from players sitting to your right. So, go for a seat with the loose, aggressive player on the left and fish on your immediate right. Sit to the right of the player if your opponent is playing very few hands. Also, sit on the left if your opponent is raising and re-raising every pot, it will help you react better to his aggressive play. 

Relative to a raiser- This position gives you a significant benefit of being on the immediate right of the pre-flop raiser. You can significantly let the raiser bet your hand for you when you have a relative position on the raiser, it will help create a bigger pot. 

Relative position can help you win a lot of money in online poker if played with mindfulness. Make sure that you do not play with mediocre hands if you are the first one to call after a raiser. The relative position is not as complicated as it sounds as all you have to do is just look out for a table calling a pre-flop raise. 

Concentration is something that is important in all spheres of life, especially while playing poker. It is a rare and remarkable quality of any successful poker player. How many times have you found yourself staring at the wall for no reason, while you initially sat down to play poker? Plenty! Right? There are times, when you despite your best intentions, just can't concentrate. Your mind loves freedom and constantly wanders in all directions, driving you away from your game. 

Concentration is very important to win an online poker game and hence you need a very high level of concentration. Concentration depends upon the ability to focus. Even a half hour of focused effort can get more done than an entire day of distraction and multitasking. A high level of concentration is the key to success in practically everything you'll ever do in life. 

So here are some tips to get into a state of deep concentration in order to successfully accomplish your games- 

1) Fix your priorities

Before you commence with your game, make a list of everything you have to do and prioritize them so that you can have an unoccupied mind. You will be without fear that you'll forget something. Make a list of what is to be done when. For example- Washing dishes at 9, Pending office work at 11 and so on. This won't muddle up your mind and you'll be able to play your game smoothly. 

2) Get rid of the distractions

You just placed a bet and then your mobile phone rings. You jump towards it to check the emails, and an hour later, find yourself browsing through social media. This is what the distraction is. In order to concentrate, you need to get rid of all the distractions. So dump all your distractions aside before you sit down to play a game. 

3) Fuel your mind

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. If you skip breakfast, adrenaline will rise, leading to stress. Your breakfast should comprise of carbohydrates, high proteins, and low sugar. 

4) Use Caffeine Wisely

Billions of people around the globe start the day with traditional caffeinated drinks like tea, coffee etc. Caffeine can definitely provide you with a temporary energy boost and in turn help you focus and concentrate, but only if it is consumed wisely. So, avoid excessive consumption. 

5) Get a good sleep

Take at least six-seven hour rest for relaxation and rejuvenation of your mind. A fresh mind can concentrate more easily.

6) Stay hydrated

Most of us don't pay heed to the need of keeping our bodies hydrated. Dehydration can make us tired, slow, irritable and also sick. When your brain is dehydrated, it cannot function at its best. Thus, staying hydrated can help you stay more concentrated. 

7) Take a stroll

Research has shown that regular walking can help you increase your focus and concentration during the day. Thus take out some time from your schedule and take a walk in the fresh air for some time. 

8) Make sure you're comfortable 

Before you begin with your game, make sure that you are comfortable. Ensure your chair and desk are at the right level for you to play the game comfortably. If you feel uncomfortable due to any factor, you may get irritated and move away. 

9) Reward self

Rewarding yourself can be great motivation. Before you start playing, set a target and promise yourself, that if you accomplish, you will reward yourself with something. For example- If you win some amount, you can take a break and grab the ice-cream kept in the fridge! 

10) Concentration Exercises

There are some exercises which boost your power of concentration such as looking at a round spot on wall with full attention, fix the gaze on the fingers, concentrate on opening and closing your fist, yoga, self-hypnosis, etc.  

You can also keep the TV on with something interesting, but not consuming or listening to music on an iPod to help you get rid of boredom. It can help you in the down time and will also help you keep a track what’s happening at the table. 

 

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