All You Need To Know About A Poker Player Career

You think about becoming a professional poker player but are still not entirely sure whether you should pursue this career or not?

Stick with me since I will show you everything you need to know about being a poker player in the following chapters!

Not only will you learn how much you can make as a poker player, but you will also learn a lot about job satisfaction, future outlook, requirements, working hours, work-life balance, responsibilities and much more.

You will also find an FAQ section where I answer the most common questions about working as a poker player for you.

After reading this article, you will have a much better idea of whether you still want to become a poker player or rather want to go for a different career instead.

Without further ado, let’s get started!

Table of Contents

What does a Poker Player do?

Poker players play poker for a living.

They often play online or travel around the world to play big live tournaments or cash games.

Since the income of poker players greatly varies across time due to enormous variance, you need a pretty strong mindset to overcome difficult periods of your life when things don’t go well at all.

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Responsibilities & Duties of a Poker Player

  • Playing cash games
  • Playing live tournaments
  • Playing poker online
  • Using software tools to increase your edge over the competition
  • Doing lots of theoretical work to improve your game
  • Analyzing your game together with fellow professional poker players
  • Preparing a good bankroll strategy so that you don’t go broke
  • Getting in touch with other poker players who might want to stake you
  • Preparing yourself mentally for times of big downswings
  • Working on yourself every day to stay ahead of the competition
  • Traveling the world to play the biggest tournaments

What a Typical Day of a Poker Player looks like?

Poker players can start their workday 24/7 since they can either play in casinos or also conveniently from home online.

Hence, when you want to start or finish your workday greatly depends on your individual preferences.

Once you start your workday, you will just play many tournaments and cash games.

You will also play multiple tables at the same time to increase your earning potential online.

Not only will you play poker for many hours, but you will also have to spend lots of time improving your game to stay ahead of the competition and to have an edge in the long run.

After working in this focused manner for many hours, you can finish your workday whenever you want and if you are in a bad mood and feel like you can’t play your best poker, you may also want to take a break and go on vacation to reload your batteries before you get back to your poker career.

Poker Player Income 2021

Poker Player income brackets 2021

Salary BracketsSalary (per year)Salary (per hour)
Top 10 %> $89,000> $44.41
Top 25 %$72,000 – $78,000$35.92 – $38.88
Bottom 25 %$31,000 – $37,000$15.45 – $18.49
Bottom 10 %$22,000 – $26,000$10.93 – $12.91
Range$22,000 – $95,000$10.93 – $47.46
Average (Mean)$44,000$21.97
Median$41,000$20.42

Poker Player income 2021 by expert level

Level of ExperienceSalary (per year)Salary (per hour)
Entry level$22,000 – $29,000$10.93 – $14.47
Junior$26,000 – $34,000$12.88 – $16.95
Professional$33,000 – $47,000$16.39 – $23.46
Senior Professional$44,000 – $61,000$21.92 – $30.42
Expert$58,000 – $73,000$28.89 – $36.48
Top Expert$71,000 – $95,000$35.38 – $47.46

Poker Player income by state 2021 (average)

StateSalary (per year)Salary (per hour)
Alabama$39,500$19.73
Alaska$41,700$20.84
Arizona$40,300$20.12
Arkansas$37,800$18.89
California$52,700$26.33
Colorado$41,200$20.57
Connecticut$42,400$21.18
Delaware$38,900$19.42
District of Columbia$43,600$21.79
Florida$45,200$22.57
Georgia$39,300$19.64
Guam$37,800$18.89
Hawaii$41,800$20.88
Idaho$38,500$19.23
Illinois$41,400$20.68
Indiana$37,900$18.93
Iowa$39,700$19.82
Kansas$41,600$20.78
Kentucky$38,200$19.09
Louisiana$39,600$19.76
Maine$42,100$21.03
Maryland$44,800$22.37
Massachusetts$46,100$23.08
Michigan$41,200$20.58
Minnesota$38,900$19.42
Mississippi$36,300$18.13
Missouri$37,700$18.85
Montana$39,800$19.87
Nebraska$38,400$19.19
Nevada$40,600$20.29
New Hampshire$42,300$21.11
New Jersey$44,100$22.03
New Mexico$39,200$19.58
New York$53,600$26.79
North Carolina$40,400$20.18
North Dakota$38,700$19.33
Ohio$41,700$20.84
Oklahoma$42,500$21.23
Oregon$43,200$21.59
Pennsylvania$45,800$22.88
Rhode Island$42,900$21.43
South Carolina$39,700$19.82
South Dakota$38,300$19.14
Tennessee$41,600$20.77
Texas$42,200$21.08
Utah$43,800$21.89
Vermont$41,700$20.83
Virginia$40,300$20.12
Washington$46,100$23.04
West Virginia$42,300$21.13
Wisconsin$40,800$20.38
Wyoming$37,200$18.57

Job Security of Poker Players

Poker players don’t have any job security at all since they work self-employed and their income therefore greatly depends on their performance at the tables and also on luck in the short run.

Thus, before you aspire to a poker player career, you should make sure to have a pretty stable mental mindset to overcome difficult periods since you might go broke otherwise pretty easily.

Future Outlook of Poker Players

Due to artificial intelligence and machine learning, it will become pretty hard for poker players to make a good living from what they are doing since many online players will become better at what they are doing since they can use latest poker software to improve their games.

In turn, your edge may get smaller and may completely vanish over time.

Hence, your only option might be to make profits from playing poker in person in the casino in the near future instead of relying on online poker as a solid income source.

Working Hours of Poker Players

Since you work self-employed and you can play poker in the casino or online all day and all night long, you can work 24/7 whenever and from wherever you want as long as you have a working internet connection.

Thus, you will not work fixed hours but choose your working hours according to your individual preferences and plans.

Job Satisfaction of Poker Players

While many poker players like the game, most poker players still struggle with the huge variance that comes along with playing poker for a living and the enormous income swings related to it.

Even though you might be a winning player on average, you will still have many sessions where you lose thousands of dollars in just a few hours due to bad luck and if you are not careful, your bankroll might get shattered and you might get broke before you are even able to recover your losses.

Consequently, many poker players have to deal with serious mental and emotional pressure and only very few of them are able to stay emotionally healthy and play profitable poker in the long run.

Promotion Opportunities of Poker Players

There are no promotion opportunities for poker players.

Since you work self-employed, you will not be able to climb the ladder in the corporate world but will rather have to work on your game to get better and climb the stakes.

Career Levels of Poker Players

  • Casual poker player
  • Regular poker player
  • Professional poker player
  • Professional poker player staking other players
  • Professional poker player playing high stakes tournaments and cash games
  • Professional poker player recognized all over the world
  • Professional poker player also making money with merchandise and other gigs

Fields and Types of Poker Players

  • Poker player specialized in cash games
  • Poker player focused on tournaments
  • Poker player with expertise in playing online
  • Poker player specialized in casino poker
  • Poker player using latest poker software to beat the competition
  • Poker player using game theory to get almost unbeatable
  • Poker player traveling the world
  • Casual poker player
  • Regular poker player
  • Professional poker player

Educational Requirements for Poker Players

There are no formal educational requirements for starting your career as a poker player.

You only need to have a certain minimum age (21 in the US and in many other countries) and you will be good to go.

How to become a Poker Player

  1. Inform yourself about the advantages and disadvantages of being a poker player
  2. Read as many poker books as possible
  3. Watch poker channels on YouTube
  4. Use free poker training courses to get better at poker
  5. Open an online account and play poker on low stakes
  6. Use poker software to analyze your game
  7. Climb the stakes and make sure to have solid bankroll management
  8. Play live games in your region
  9. Study hard and hone your craft
  10. Become a renowned and feared poker player

Character Traits you need as a Poker Player

  • You need a strong mindset to overcome downswings
  • Willingness to work hard on your game
  • You should be ambitious
  • You should not get discouraged by drawbacks
  • You should be open to critical feedback
  • Willingness to travel the world
  • You should be willing to adjust to new conditions and circumstances
  • You should not care about short-term gains
  • You should love the game of poker
  • Ability to deal with lots of insecurity in an emotionally healthy manner
  • Ability to deal with snarky comments of your family and friends

Skills for Poker Players

Hard Skills for Poker Players

  • Excellent knowledge of playing poker in a professional manner
  • Knowledge of laws, rules and regulations related to poker
  • Expertise in using latest poker software
  • Knowledge of GTO (game theory optimal) play
  • You should be good at connecting with other professional poker players
  • Knowledge of sneaky poker tricks
  • Knowledge of how to use body language to your advantage
  • Spotting of timing tells helps as well
  • Knowledge of how to file taxes as a poker player

Soft Skills for Poker Players

  • Ability to deal with downswings and drawbacks in a healthy manner
  • Willingness to work hard on your game every day
  • Attention to detail helps you improve your game
  • You should be able to deal with huge income swings
  • You should not overestimate your skill level
  • Patience helps you succeed in the long run
  • You should be a good communicator to connect with other poker players
  • You have to adjust to new situations on a regular basis
  • You have to change when the game of poker changes
  • Willingness to learn different forms of poker

Exit Options for Poker Players

Poker players don’t have great exit options since many companies don’t want to employ people who consider themselves professional poker players in their résumés.

Consequently, you may have a hard time finding a job at the time you want to quit your active poker career.

Poker Player – Similar Careers

  • Baccarat player
  • Blackjack player
  • Casino manager
  • Floorman in a casino
  • Casino dealer
  • Casino service worker
  • Waiter in a casino
  • Software developer for poker
  • Poker teacher

Poker Player Career FAQs

Is working as a poker player physically demanding?

Being a poker player is not physically demanding.

You will mainly work with your brain and will not have to stress your body as much compared to welders or roofers who have to lift heavy things on a regular basis.

Is working as a poker player mentally demanding?

Working as a poker player is heavily mentally demanding since you will always have to improve your game if you want to stay ahead of the competition in the long run and you will also have to make tough decisions along the way.

You also need great bankroll management to play poker in a profitable manner while still minimizing the risk of going broke.

Consequently, being a poker player is mentally as well as emotionally demanding and only very few people are able to succeed in this field in the long run.

Is it dangerous to work as a poker player?

Working as a poker player is not that dangerous since you will not have to work with heavy machines and your risk of suffering from serious accidents will be rather low.

However, it can still be risky to work as a poker player from a financial perspective and you should also not borrow money from the wrong people to avoid unpleasant outcomes in the long run.

How long do poker players stay in their jobs?

Most poker players don’t stay in this field for too long since most of them are not good enough to stay ahead of the competition and go broke sooner or later.

Thus, you should never expect to become a successful poker player for many years or even decades since the game changes quite a lot and competition gets more fierce every day.

Consequently, you should have a backup plan in case your poker career doesn’t work out as planned.

Is it hard to switch from being a poker player to another field of work?

Since poker players are pretty specialized in what they are doing and don’t learn many other hard skills apart from playing poker, they often have a hard time finding a job in a different field since they will not find anyone who would be willing to employ a gambler.

Do poker players have a high social status?

Poker players don’t have a high social status at all.

Most people out there will just consider what you do for a living gambling and may not even consider it a real job.

Thus, you may have to deal with many snarky comments in this regardf in the long run.

Can you help out your family and friends as a poker player?

While you could learn your loved ones how to play poker, you will still not learn many practical skills on the job compared to carpenters or other craftsmen who are able to build or repair many things around the home and provide much more value to their families and friends.

Can poker players work remotely?

As a poker player, you will be able to work remotely from home or from any other location you want as long as you have a working internet connection since you will be able to play online and don’t have to show up in a casino in person anymore.

Is it easy to find a partner as a poker player?

Poker players have a pretty hard time finding a partner for a long-term relationship since they have to deal with huge income swings and also don’t have any job security at all.

Thus, they are not considered good providers and may have a hard time in the dating market compared to dentists or judges who often have a much easier time in this regard.

Do poker players have to work on weekends?

Poker players don’t have to work on weekends.

However, they can still do so in case they want to work additional hours and make more money.

In general, you will not work fixed hours but rather play poker when you feel most comfortable with it and also don’t have any other plans.

Do poker players have to work on holidays?

While poker players can also work on holidays by going to the casino or playing online, they don’t have to work during those times but rather have the option to do so to make more money on average.

Do poker players have to work at nighttime?

Poker players often work in the late evening or at nighttime since people often get drunk during those times and it will be easier for you to make a profit against those players compared to a state where they would be sober.

Do you have to travel as a poker player?

Many poker players travel the world to play major live tournaments and to meet up with other professional poker players who often become really good friends over time.

Thus, you should be prepared to be away from home quite often and if you rather want to stay at home with your family, you should become a compliance officer or work in a different office job instead of becoming a poker player.

Are poker player pensions good?

Poker players don’t get pensions at all since they work self-employed and it is on them to save and invest enough money during their active careers so that they don’t suffer from financial problems once they get older and retire.

Are poker player salaries going up?

Since poker players work self-employed, they don’t get a salary but rather have an income that greatly varies over time.

In general, competition has become quite fierce in this industry over the past decade since the average player has become much better due to the many free online courses out there and this means that average profits for professional poker players have gone down quite a bit and this trend will likely continue in the future. In turn, many poker players might no longer be able to play poker for a living and might have to get a normal job.

Can you have a positive impact on society as a poker player?

You will not have a big positive impact on society as a poker player since you will just care about your own profits while you will take away the money from other people who might even get into serious financial problems.

How long does it take to become a poker player?

You can start your poker player career from one day to the other since there are no formal requirements apart from having a certain minimum age.

However, it will still take you many years to get really good at what you are doing and to make a real living from your poker career (most people will never get to this stage and will stay recreational players).

Is it difficult to become a poker player?

While it is not difficult to start your poker career, it is extremely difficult to get an edge over the competition and to make actual money from what you are doing.

In fact, the vast majority of poker players fail and only very few people are able to make a good living from what they are doing.

Do you need to be smart to work as a poker player?

You should be pretty smart to succeed as a poker player in the long run since there are many good people trying their luck in this industry and only the smartest and most hard-working people are able to make money from what they are doing for many years or even decades while the vast majority of poker players will only make a few bucks or even lose money.

Do poker players have a good work-life balance?

Poker players have decent work-life balance since they are free to play whenever they want from wherever they want as long as they have a working internet connection.

Thus, you can care for your loved ones and organize your private life while you can still make money from online poker at the same time.

Do poker players have to work many extra hours?

Poker players don’t have to work many extra hours.

In fact, they don’t even have a fixed schedule. Instead, poker players just work and take breaks whenever they want.

How to maximize your chances of becoming a poker player?

The more time you spend on your poker career, the more likely it will be that you will finally be able to make money from what you are doing.

Thus, you should study hard and improve your game as much as possible if your goal is to make a living from playing poker in the long run.

Can poker players work part-time?

Poker players are also able to work part-time.

However, the more hours you work, the higher your profits on average and many poker players therefore still work full-time to be able to pay their bills and since they also really like what they are doing.

Do poker players work indoors or outdoors?

Poker players work indoors and therefore don’t have to care about adverse weather conditions outdoors as construction workers or garbage collectors have to do on a regular basis.

What does the workplace of a poker player look like?

Poker players can either play online from home or play in a casino in person.

Consequently, you will either work on a laptop or computer or sit in a casino chair with real people.

Do you have to look good for working as a poker player?

You don’t need to look good for succeeding as a poker player.

If you play online, your looks will just not matter at all since other people will not see you and you can even play in your pajamas and never leave your bed during a session if this is what you want to do.

Is a poker player career beneficial for your private life?

Being a poker player is not beneficial for your private life in the long run since you have to deal with huge income swings and also don’t have any job security at all.

You may also go broke sooner or later and you will therefore not be a good provider for your family.

Do you need a college degree for becoming a poker player?

You don’t need a college degree for working as a professional poker player.

In fact, you don’t need any education at all and only have to meet age requirements to start your career in this field.

Do you need to be certified to work as a poker player?

You also don’t need to be certified to work as a poker player.

Instead of getting lots of formal education, it is much more important to really work on your game to stay ahead of the competition and to be able to make money in the long run.

How much does it cost to become a poker player?

Since you don’t have to spend money on college education, you can become a poker player at virtually no cost.

However, you might still want to take some courses and use poker software and this means that you will still have to spend some money on your poker career if you are really serious about it.

Is being a poker player a good career?

Working as a poker player cannot be considered a good career when taking all relevant factors into account since you will have to deal with serious financial pressure and huge swings in income and only very few people have the skills and the mindset to succeed as professional poker players in the long run.

Is it easy to start your own business as a poker player?

It is pretty easy to start your own business in the poker industry since you can just sell your own poker courses and books and if you are really good at digital marketing as well, you can make really good money from those things.

Can poker players teach themselves?

Poker players are able to teach themselves most things they need to succeed.

However, this also means that you will have to spend lots of time studying the game of poker to get an edge over the competition and stay profitable with what you are doing in the long run.

Do poker players make good money?

While very few people can make good money from playing poker, the vast majority of people don’t make good money and most poker players will never make it to a stage where they could make a living from what they are doing and even lose money in the long run.

Is it ever too late to become a poker player?

It is never too late to become a poker player.

However, you will still have to compete with many young and really talented people and if you start your career too late, you may not have enough time to learn all the things you need to become successful with playing poker in the long run.

Do poker players have to quit their careers early?

Most poker players have to quit their careers early since they just go broke or are not able to make enough money from what they are doing to pay their bills and only very few people are able to make good money in this industry while the majority of people fails.

What is the hardest thing about working as a poker player?

The hardest part about being a poker player is that you will have to deal with huge income swings and if you don’t have a stable mindset, the financial pressure may eat you alive and you will not get happy with what you are doing in the long run.

Can you provide for your family by working as a poker player?

Providing for your family is pretty hard as a poker player since you will have to deal with huge income swings and may even go broke sooner or later.

Consequently, you will just not be a good provider and if you want to have kids sooner or later, you should not become a poker player but rather look for a different career instead.

Will poker players suffer from old-age poverty?

Many poker players suffer from old-age poverty since they are not able to save and invest enough money during their active careers and may get into serious financial issues once they quit their active poker careers and retire.

Can poker players retire early?

Most poker players are not able to retire early.

While a very small minority of poker players are able to make a fortune, the vast majority of players are not even able to make a living from what they are doing.

Do poker players get a fixed or variable salary?

Poker players don’t get a fixed salary.

Instead, their income greatly depends on their performance at the table and also on the amount of luck they have in the short run.

Thus, you have to deal with huge income swings as a poker player and only very few people are able to cope with those things in an emotionally healthy manner.

Can you get rich as a poker player?

While a very small percentage of poker players get wealthy or even rich, the vast majority of poker players will never get to this stage and most poker players are not even able to make a living from what they are doing.

Do poker players need a second job?

Many poker players need a second job to pay their bills since their poker player career will not be enough to make a living from what they are doing.

Do you get continuous training as a poker player?

You don’t get any training as a poker player.

Since you work self-employed, it is on you to hone your craft and to get really good at what you are doing if you want to become and stay successful in the long run.

Do you get sick pay as a poker player?

You don’t get sick pay as a poker player.

Instead, you have to care for yourself and build an emergency fund for the time you get sick and are not able to make money so that you are still able to pay your bills.

Do poker players have a high level of responsibility?

Poker players don’t have a high level of responsibility for others since they just play poker for their own good.

However, they can still get into serious financial problems and may also stress the nerves of their families.

Can poker players work abroad?

Poker players are able to work from all over the world as long as they have a working internet connection.

Thus, you can choose the country you want to live in independently from your job and this is a big plus since you can live in the most beautiful places in the world and are not restricted or confined by your workplace in this regard.

Is it stressful to work as a poker player?

Working as a professional poker player is pretty stressful since you will have to deal with huge income swings and you can never be sure whether you play against players who might be better than you or not.

Hence, unless you have a really strong mindset and are willing to work really hard on your game, you should not become a poker player and rather work in a more relaxed job.

Is it boring to work as a poker player?

Working as a poker player never gets boring since you will have to deal with huge swings and will also see amazing hands on a regular basis.

Thus, you will rather be excited instead of bored when working as a poker player.

Is being a poker player hard?

While you will not have to work in a hard physical manner, poker players still have to deal with lots of stress and financial pressure at work and only very few of them are able to work in this field in the long run and many poker players also suffer from serious mental health problems.

Are poker players at risk of burnout?

Poker players are at great risk of burnout since they have to deal with lots of financial pressure and many poker players are not able to deal with those things in a healthy emotional manner.

Is there a dress code for poker players?

You don’t have to comply with any dress code as a poker player.

Instead, you can wear clothes you feel most comfortable in and can also even play online in your pajamas if you want.

What kind of poker players are paid the most?

You will not get paid as a poker player.

Instead, you will just work for yourself and the harder you study and the more talented you are, the more money you will be able to make as a poker player.

What percentage of poker players are women?

Around 18% of all professional poker players are women while around 82% are men.

There are just more men who aspire to a career in the poker industry since they are more risk-loving compared to women on average.

Do I need a mentor to succeed as a poker player?

It can help to have a mentor if you just start out your poker player career since you will have to go through a lot of pain and having someone on your side who can support you on a mental and emotional level can really help to overcome difficult periods of your poker career.

Will you be personally liable for mistakes as a poker player?

Since you will play with your own money, your mistakes at the poker table will directly translate into serious financial losses.

Do poker players have a high life expectancy?

Poker players don’t have a high life expectancy since they have to deal with enormous amounts of pressure and are quite vulnerable to serious health issues both on a physical as well as on an emotional level.

Do poker players suffer from sleeping problems?

Since poker players often work at nighttime and also have to deal with lots of stress related to their work, many of them also suffer from sleeping problems and unpleasant consequences related to them.

What states are best for working as a poker player?

Since you can work as a poker player from all over the world, you should choose a location where you don’t have to spend lots of money on rent or other living expenses so that you have more money left for building a poker bankroll.

Who do poker players work with?

Poker players just work on their own and will not have many social contacts during their workday.

Being a poker player can be really lonely and if you are an outgoing person who loves to talk to others on a regular basis, you should most likely not become a poker player but rather work as a consultant.

Is working as a poker player cool?

Making a living from playing poker is considered cool by the majority of the general public.

However, most people just see all the benefits that come along with it and don’t see the hard times and you should therefore not care about the opinions of others in this regard but rather see the hard facts.

Can you start a side hustle as a poker player?

As a poker player, you can start many side hustles.

For instance, many poker players start YouTube channels or courses where they teach the general public how to play poker and make really good money from it.

This is a wise idea since you will never know how long you will actually be able to make money from playing poker and you should always have a backup plan.

Do you have to be creative as a poker player?

Being creative helps you succeed as a poker player since the more creative your game is, the harder it will be for your opponents to exploit it and the more likely you will find solutions to complex poker problems.

Do poker players suffer from being overweight?

Since poker players don’t get lots of exercise, they often also suffer from being overweight in the long run since they just don’t burn enough calories.

How employable are poker players?

Since poker players work for themselves instead of having a job, talking about employability would just not make any sense.

However, since poker players are often pretty smart, they may also find a new job in a different field in case they want to quit their poker careers and retire.

Are poker players happy with their jobs?

While most poker players love the game, many of them are still not happy with overall working conditions and with the high level of pressure that comes along with this career.

Is working as a poker player exciting?

Working as a poker player is pretty exciting since you will play with your own money and can never be sure what outcome to expect.

Can you have a positive impact on our environment as a poker player?

You will not care about our environment as a poker player that much but will rather do what’s best for your own pocket.

What are the pros and cons of working as a poker player?

If you are still interested in becoming a professional poker player, you should also have a look at additional pros and cons of a poker player career.

Sources

https://www.statista.com/statistics/272028/poker-players-worldwide-since-2006-according-to-origin/

https://www.statista.com/statistics/227478/table-game-players-blackjack-craps-poker-roulette-etc-usa/

https://www.statista.com/statistics/1130310/poker-game-luck-or-skill/

Interviews and own research.

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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