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Copyright © 2016. All Rights Reserved. Poker History. Editor: Erik Smith.

BEING A PROFESSIONAL POKER PLAYER

The laws in Denmark have changed for online poker players. The legislation we have been waiting for since November 2003 is in effect. From the first of January 2012 it is officially legal to call yourself a professional poker player. This blog is about being a professional poker player and how annoying it is to talk about with friends who don’t acknowledge what I do.

I have for a long time been meaning to write a blog about my profession. The idea is to explain my frustrations as I often have to listen to people’s clueless opinions about my job. Below are some dogmas I would like to kill in this blog:

  • “You play poker for a living? Wow! Are you luckier than most people?”
  • “You must have an easy life when you can make a living of playing poker”
  • “Playing poker is not really working”

 

CUTE & CLUELESS

Most people who ask if I am lucky are girls who have no idea what poker is about. They do not know the game and therefore have no idea that it is a skill game. Yes sure in one hand you can be lucky but when you play 380,000 hands a year being lucky in one specific hand won’t have any impact on your poker career.

 

POKER IS HARD WORK

I would like to state once and for all being a professional poker player is not easy. I doubt more than 2% of my readers are cut out for this job. Let me explain gently why I have this opinion. I guess my frustrations about this topic have piled up for a while inside me. I figured writing this blog would be a good way to channel my anger into something of value.

You might ask: “Erik what does it matter what people think?” It doesn’t matter what the average Larry on the street thinks of me and my job. I am writing this blog so my friends can understand what I do and to share my thoughts with my fellow poker colleagues.

Here is a list of things that people have to consider

  • Making money is never easy. Anyone who thinks it is easy is sadly mistaking. There is no easy way to make money in this world. If there was everyone would be doing it. You are not playing against idiots you are mainly playing against other pros so there is not room for many mistakes long term. Players go bust and the amount of fish in the sea has never been lower. Fact: Making money is never easy!
  • Playing poker is work for me despite it sounds like nothing but fun. I sit between six and nine hours a session where I have to be highly concentrated. The level of energy you use when you play is like taking an exam. You all remember how much pressure you are under during an exam right? That is my daily life and if I fail I can’t cover my bills at the end of the month and there is no welfare check to cover my ass. Fact: Whatever you do to survive is a job!
  • Poker is hardcore work with no paid breaks. When I play I sit highly focused in front the computer for 6-9 hous playing as many as 9 tables at the time. Often when I hear about people who have a regular job it constitutes 37.5 - 40 hours a week. But how many hours a day are you highly concentrated? Sorry to say but in many jobs you spend 1 hour a day on facebook. 30 min on coffee breaks, cigarette breaks, stop and chit chat with colleagues, have group meetings where all you have to do is listen to others talk and in some jobs a lot of the time you are on simply standby by the phone and similar routine tasks. Fact: As a poker player you only earn money when you play and some days /weeks/months you can lose money!
  • A lot of people often ask how the poker rooms make money.  The sites generally charge 5% of the total pot up to 3-5 units. It could be $3, €3 or £3. If there is no flop you don’t pay anything. Its called ‘no flop no drop’. On an average month I pay $3500 in rake which to me is 17.5 buy-ins on $1/2 NL. That is a very high fee to be allowed to play the games. For most part you get 30-50% back via VIP programs so on average I pay $1400 to be able to do my job. How many of you have to give out $1400 of your monthly salary? FACT: It is not enough to beat the opponents you have to beat the rake too!
  • You are in this alone. There is no employee who will help you or understand that you have been sick, feeling down or need some time off for personal reasons. Fact: When you do not work you do not get paid a dime!

I hope this blog gave you a better idea of what I do. For most part it is an interesting job because you can always educate yourself to improve your game and results. I do that by analysing my hands after a session. I tag my opponents and makes notes. I study their weaknesses and strengths. Lastly I watch coaching videos by solid pro players to get an understanding of how they think.

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