“Every poker player is smarter than me.”
Penn Jillette, Entertainer
Pros and Cons of Being a Poker Player
You think about a career as a professional poker player? Great!
However, before you actually go for it, make sure to check out all the pros and cons of being a professional poker player in this article so that you get a more objective picture of how your life as a poker player would look like.
You may also come to the conclusion that you may want to go a saver career path instead.
Table of Contents
Poker Player Job Profile
|Job Description||Professional poker players make a living out of playing poker. They play live tournaments or cash games. Many players also prefer playing online instead of live since they can just play multiple tables at the same time which can maximize their revenue.|
|Salary||The salary of poker players greatly depends on the individual skill level. While few poker players make millions, most others struggle to make a living and some of them even lose it all.|
|Job Security||No job security at all since you work self-employed.|
|Job Satisfaction||Rather poor since you will have to deal with enormous amounts of pressure and uncertainty.|
|Work-Life Balance||Decent work-life balance since you can decide when you want to play and when you want to have time off.|
|Physically / Mentally Demanding?||Playing poker at a professional level is mentally and emotionally challenging.|
|Future Outlook||Your future success in playing poker will still depend on your skill level and whether you are willing to work hard on yourself or not. However, cheating has become a serious problem in online poker and this may become a serious threat in the long run.|
|Requirements||No special educational requirements.|
Advantages of Being a Poker Player
- Poker players can make decent money
- You will be able to work self-employed
- Poker players may not pay that much taxes
- You don’t have clients
- You can make money from your hobby
- You can start poker as a side hustle
- You can play online
- You don’t have to work in a classical job
- Poker players can avoid physical work
- You can stay in nice hotels as a professional poker player
- You can meet many new people
- Poker players may become famous
- You don’t need a college degree
- Poker players learn how to handle their emotions
- You may get staked
- Poker players can work indoors
- Working as a poker player can be exciting
Poker players can make decent money
One advantage of being a poker player is that you can make really good money from what you are doing.
In fact, the best poker players in the world make millions of dollars per year while carpenters and many other people make far less money.
Apart from just playing poker, they also make decent advertising deals and can earn additional bucks.
Sure, only a few people will get to this point.
Yet, there are also numerous unknown other poker players who are able to make a living and if you are willing to work hard and to learn your craft, chances are that you will also get to this point if you are a relatively smart person.
You will be able to work self-employed
Another benefit of being a poker player is that you are also able to work on your own.
You will just be your own boss and don’t have to make yourself dependent of any company out there.
This can give you a great level of freedom and also allows you to structure your day exactly how you want it to be.
Of course, this is not for everyone and many people just need more structure in their lives.
However, if you are the type of freedom-loving person who doesn’t want to follow commands of your boss all day long, chances are that becoming a professional poker player can greatly help you out in this regard.
Poker players may not pay that much taxes
As a professional poker player, you will also have some tax advantages.
How much taxes you have to pay on your poker earnings depends on the individual state.
However, since your poker earnings will not be tracked if you just play cash games, chances are that most poker players report much lower incomes than they actually have and this allows them to pay fewer taxes.
You don’t have clients
One thing that is really neat as a professional poker player is that you can work self-employed and still don’t have to deal with clients.
In fact, difficult clients are the main thing that makes working self-employed exhausting and annoying and by working as a poker player, you can have all of the upsides of working on your own while avoiding this major downside at the same time.
Hence, instead of having to deal with annoying people, you can just enjoy your time at the poker table and can make money at the same time.
You can make money from your hobby
Many people just started poker as a hobby, but switched to a professional poker career after a few years when they saw the potential to replace their jobs they secretly hated with a better alternative.
In fact, for many professional poker players, sitting at the table and playing poker just doesn’t feel like work to them. It rather feels like a hobby with which they can make decent money.
Consequently, becoming a poker player can also make quite a lot of sense for you if you really love the game since money will often come naturally to you in this case.
You can start poker as a side hustle
If you are not sure if you are already good enough to make a living out of playing poker, you should just start it as a side hustle.
You can just work in your regular day job and play a few hours of poker every day after work.
By doing so, you will quickly realize whether you have what it takes to succeed in poker or not and you don’t have to put your secure job at risk before you are entirely sure that you will really be able to pay your bills from a career in poker
You can play online
Another upside to working as a professional poker player is that you can just do your work online.
You don’t have to go to a casino and play there, you can just sit down in front of your computer screen and play some hands in any place of the world as long as you have a good internet connection and playing poker online is not prohibited in those states.
Thus, you will also have a great level of flexibility as a professional poker player since you can play wherever you want whenever you want and can even sit in your room in your pajama while playing for serious money.
This can also give you a high level of comfort at work since you can wear everything you want at work and can even listen to music if you want to.
You don’t have to work in a classical job
Many poker players also decided for this career path since they simply hated their jobs.
In fact, many people out there don’t like what they are doing at all and are just in for the money.
However, money is never satisfying in the long run and if you don’t like what you are doing, chances are that you will become pretty miserable in the long run.
Consequently, poker can also be a doorway to escape your misery and to start a much better life since you can escape the corporate world but rather work on your terms instead.
Poker players can avoid physical work
Another advantage of becoming a poker player is that you can also avoid physical work.
Many people out there have to work with their hands and many of them are pretty tired when they come home after work.
Many people also report physical health issues in the long run and you as a professional poker player will not have those issues that often since you rather have to perform mentally-demanding work but can avoid physical strain.
You can stay in nice hotels as a professional poker player
As a professional poker player, you will also be able to enjoy the luxury to stay in pretty nice hotels all around the world.
Many casinos have programs where you can stay in hotels that belong to the respective casino for free as long as you play a certain number of hands during your stay.
This means that you can basically avoid paying any rent and can spend this money on other things or just save it to buy a home one day in the future.
In many cases, you will also get comps for which you can also buy food and this further reduces your overall living costs.
You can meet many new people
You will also be able to meet many new people during your poker journey.
Many poker players just travel the world since they want to play major tournaments and this also gives you the opportunity to talk to many different people at the table.
There are also decent parties where you can make additional contacts if you like.
Thus, not only can you meet many interesting people during your journey, being a professional poker player also gives you the opportunity to travel the world and to experience many new cultures and ways of life.
Poker players may become famous
As a poker player, you may also have the opportunity to become famous.
If you win a big tournament, you will often be recognized by people in your industry and many people want to take pictures with you.
Of course, the chance to get to this level is extremely low and you should not expect to become famous from poker. It is just a nice goodie that might come along someday in your poker career.
You don’t need a college degree
You also don’t need any formal education for becoming a professional poker player.
Sure, good math skills improve your chances to succeed at the poker table.
Yet, there are no educational requirements for a career as a poker player and if you have reached the minimum age that is required for playing poker in your state, you will just be good to go.
Poker players learn how to handle their emotions
Another benefit of working as a poker player is that you will also learn how to handle your emotions.
In fact, it can be quite frustrating to lose lots of money even if you played well and you just had back luck.
Some poker players may also try to bring you down and will make fun of you since they hope that they get you on tilt.
While this can be quite annoying, it also gives you the opportunity to really grow in character and to learn how to handle your emotions.
You may get staked
Many professional poker players don’t put their own money at risk, but they are often staked by other successful players who give them the money to enter a tournament and get a share of their earnings at the same time.
Thus, you can hedge against short-term swings and losses to a certain extent if you find someone who lends you money for playing poker.
Poker players can work indoors
As a professional poker player, you can either work online or play poker in a casino.
Either way, you will work in a rather cozy and comfortable environment and don’t have to worry about bad weather outdoors.
In contrast, there are still many people out there who have to work outdoors and suffer from these adverse conditions.
Hence, while many people take it for granted to work indoors, you should really be happy about the high levels of comfort that comes along with being a professional poker player in this regard.
Working as a poker player can be exciting
You can also be sure that working as a professional poker player never gets boring.
Since swings are that high and you never know the outcome of a session, chances are that you will always be thrilled to play another session and many poker players just can’t imagine living a different life.
Now that we talked about all the upsides of being a professional poker player, it is time to take a look at the downsides that come along with it so that you can better decide whether becoming a professional poker player is what you really want or if you rather want to go for a different career path instead.
Disadvantages of Being a Poker Player
- You can lose all your money
- Poker players suffer from enormous swings
- You don’t have a fixed income
- Most poker players fail in the long run
- Being a professional poker player can be stressful
- Usually not suitable if you want to have a family
- Many professional poker players suffer from mental problems
- Difficult to find a different job after your poker career
- You may get into debt and deal with the wrong people
- Poker players need an incredibly strong mindset
- Luck plays a huge role
- You may have difficulties getting a mortgage
- Poker players always have to develop their skills further
- Regulatory risks of playing poker
- Many poker players underestimate the pressure that comes along with it
- Some poker players even end up homeless
You can lose all your money
One problem with being a poker player is that you can lose all your money if you don’t have yourself under control.
In fact, many poker players greatly underestimate the dangers of the game and are not prepared to cover big losses that might occur.
Some of them also drink quite a lot and don’t make proper decisions after that anymore, which can lead to terrible financial outcomes if you are unlucky and don’t know your limit.
Poker players suffer from enormous swings
Many people also greatly underestimate the enormous swings that come along with playing poker at a professional level.
Poker is not only about skill, there is also a huge luck factor in the short run and many poker players don’t take this into account and crash their bankrolls in just a few days.
Hence, if you really want to operate in this field, make sure that you have sophisticated bankroll management in place that prevents you to go broke in unlucky periods of your poker career (and those will come for sure! 😉).
You don’t have a fixed income
While tilers and many other people just work in their jobs and get paid every month, you will not have this kind of luxury.
Instead, you will only get the money that you make from poker and if you have a losing month, you will basically get nothing but rather even have to pay for what you are doing.
This can be really annoying and not many people have the stomach to deal with these things in the long run.
Most poker players fail in the long run
Huge swings in poker are also one of the main reasons why most poker players fail.
They are just not able to deal with all this uncertainty in a proper manner and also question their abilities sooner or later.
Only people who are really convinced about themselves will make it in poker since you just need this level of self-assurance to get through difficult periods of your poker career.
Consequently, before becoming a professional poker player, you should take an honest look in the mirror and ask yourself whether you are really mentally stable enough to deal with those levels of uncertainty and if yes, do you also really want your life to look like that?
Being a professional poker player can be stressful
If you watch poker on TV, you may just see all the glamour and the winners of poker.
You don’t see all the struggle, the sleepless nights and the desperation that comes along with this career path.
In fact, playing poker at a professional level can be really demanding and stressful and there are many other career paths that are far less stressful.
Thus, if you don’t really love the game and the special feeling that poker can give you, there will be far better job options that allow you to live a much more relaxed life.
Usually not suitable if you want to have a family
Another downside of being a professional poker player is that you will also have not that much time for your family.
Many professional poker players travel the world and are away from home quite often.
Moreover, since you will not have a stable income, you will also have serious difficulties with planning your future and this may deter most potential partners since they simply look for more stability.
Many professional poker players suffer from mental problems
You might not hear about the dark side of poker, but many poker players also develop mental issues sooner or later.
Especially in periods where you have to deal with huge financial downswings, you need a pretty stable mindset and most people are just not able to deal with those situations in a proper manner and get depressed.
Difficult to find a different job after your poker career
Many professional poker players also haven’t learned anything useful apart from poker.
While this might not matter that much for your poker career, it can still pose problems since you will have a pretty hard time finding a job after you quit poker for various reasons.
Thus, make sure that you get some additional education if you want to go this career path to be covered in case you have to quit poker sooner or later.
You may get into debt and deal with the wrong people
If you get staked and don’t play with your own money, you may also get into dangerous situations in case you are no longer able to pay back your loans.
In fact, if you deal with the wrong people in this field, you may get into serious trouble, not only financially but also in various other ways you might think of.
Poker players need an incredibly strong mindset
In general, you need an incredibly strong mindset for being a successful professional poker player.
Even the best players in the world experience difficult times in their career and need plenty of courage and self-confidence to push through those dark times.
Playing poker for a living is definitely not for everyone and you should really ask yourself if you have this extremely stable mindset before deciding for a career in this industry.
Luck plays a huge role
Many people also underestimate the luck factor that comes along with playing poker.
In fact, luck plays a huge role in the short run, even though it barely matters at all in the long run.
Many younger poker players don’t understand this properly and never recover from downswings caused by luck, even though they might be good enough to make a living out of playing poker.
You may have difficulties getting a mortgage
There are also not many banks out there who will grant you a mortgage for buying a home if you are a professional poker player.
Most banks will only grant loans to people with a stable income and playing poker for a living definitely doesn’t fulfill those requirements.
Consequently, you may also have a hard time financing a home while many of your friends who work in conventional jobs will have a much easier time with it.
Poker players always have to develop their skills further
Due to our fast technological progress, poker players also have to develop themselves further.
The game and how players strategize always change and if you don’t adapt to those changes in a proper manner, chances are that you will just not stay successful at the poker table in the long run.
Regulatory risks of playing poker
In some states, you may also not even be allowed to play poker.
In fact, regulations in this regard greatly vary across states and countries and you may even have to move for a career as a professional poker play due to legal reasons.
Many poker players underestimate the pressure that comes along with it
Let’s talk about pressure a little bit.
Many people also greatly underestimate how stressful and exhausting the life of a professional poker player can really be. Sure, there are also nice moments related to it.
However, many times, you will have to deal with enormous amounts of pressure and this makes working as a professional poker player a lonely and dangerous game.
Some poker players even end up homeless
People who don’t succeed in playing poker sometimes even end up homeless since they just have no money left to pay their rent.
Even though this might be the extreme, there is still a risk that you will be one of those people if you decide to give playing poker a try and don’t know your limit.
Top 10 Being a Poker Player Pros & Cons – Summary List
|Being a Poker Player Pros||Being a Poker Player Cons|
|Being a poker player can be exciting||Being a poker player can be stressful|
|You can meet many new people||High level of insecurity|
|Poker players can travel the world||Swings can be enormous|
|You can work indoors||You may lose it all|
|You can avoid working in a normal job||Mental problems are rather common|
|Poker players work self-employed||Banks will not lend you money|
|You don’t have to deal with clients||Luck plays a significant role in the short run|
|You can work from wherever you want||Many people underestimate the pressure|
|High level of flexibility||You don’t have a fixed monthly income|
|Some poker players make good money||Many poker players quit sooner or later|
Should You Become a Poker Player?
As you can see from the previous discussion, there are indeed many advantages and disadvantages of playing poker at a professional level.
You should definitely take your time to evaluate all the pros and cons carefully so that you can make a profound decision regarding how your professional future should look like.
If you still want to become a professional poker player, you should also get detailed information on the income, future outlook, requirements, working hours, work-life balance, duties and job satisfaction of poker players.
Also make sure to check out the following articles:
About the author
My name is Andreas and my mission is to educate people about the different career paths that are possible in our current state of the world. In my opinion, people often make the mistake to choose their profession solely based on how much money they can earn from it instead of doing what makes them really happy.
This is quite sad and I just want to give people a more objective picture of how a fulfilling career could look like. I did the same when I started working in consulting after finishing my Master’s degree in Economics. However, I’ve quit pretty soon after that since I haven’t found true meaning in my job.
Now I can do what I really love to do and I want to enable as many other people as well to go this exciting path towards happiness instead of money.
I conducted various interviews with employees to give you a good impression of what working in different fields will look like and that you can make the best possible decision regarding your future career choice.
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