Poker is probably the most popular card game in the world. As a result, you will often see it in pop culture.
There is an array of books and movies where the protagonist is a poker player. Even James Bond had a brief adventure at the tables in Casino Royale. However, quite often, the game is represented inaccurately, and there are many myths about poker players.
In this article, I will try to debunk them and display a more accurate picture of what being a poker pro is really about.
10. Being a good player is enough
People tend to think that if you are good enough when it comes to playing the game, you will be successful and can become a poker professional. While this is obviously a crucial criterion, there are many other qualities required to make it.
For starters, you have to be willing to learn all the time, especially when it comes to online poker. The metagame is constantly changing, and you need to adapt. On top of that, you must stay disciplined. You will be beaten on a regular basis even if you are a winner in the long run, and you need to handle it. You must be able to cope with the pressure and keep going.
9. Poker pros are constantly living on the edge
Many people, especially ones who do not understand poker, compare the game to other forms of gambling where you play against the house and are likely to lose eventually. They do not understand that poker is a game of skill where you can easily have the edge over your opponents if you put enough work.
With proper bankroll management and attitude, you could have a rather risk-free run. Of course, there are exceptions to this, and you will see poker players reach bottom every once in a while. But this comes from bad habits and not being able to control your environment. This is why discipline is one of the keys to consistent success on the table.
8. All poker pros are exceptional mathematicians
This is very far from the truth. While all poker professionals are decent at math, the majority of the calculations required are rather simple. You only have to understand pot odds, implied odds and few other things, which will take only seconds after enough practice.
Many successful poker players are not great in advanced math, and you do not need to be a MIT graduate to play professionally.
7. Top pros risks millions of their own money
When it comes to the top level of poker — the so-called nosebleed games — you will often see players being staked. Even the best poker pros out there would take a huge hit if they lost a couple of million overnight, and very few of them would have enough money to buy in to six-figure buy-in tournaments. They are fully aware of proper poker bankroll management, thus can easily reduce the variance by selling shares of their action.
This is why they are backed by other players, by friends or through other channels. In online poker, there are plenty of marketplaces where you can buy and sell stakes of your action, and many use this option.
6. It’s both easy and fun
When you see the glamorous life of top poker players traveling the world, entering huge parties and showing up on TV, you might be misguided and think it is all about the fun.
The harsh truth is that there is immense pressure if you choose this lifestyle, and very few people can survive in the long term on the top level. You only see the results, which they have after devoting their whole life to poker, studying for years and turning down all that fun at the beginning.
Therefore, until you master this game, you will have to work very hard and devote a lot of time if you want to reach that glamorous life.
5. It’s all about the talent
If you watch a TV show about poker, you will probably think that these guys have some built-in radar that just gives them an edge over the rest. Moreover, you can often hear someone saying that they are not smart enough to beat this game, but I do not believe in such things.
Anyone can be a winner if they just put in sufficient time to learn and study the game. Obviously, if you are a fast learner or have a math background, you could see results sooner than others, but eventually, everyone can become a winning player.
You just have to go through all the mistakes and failures and get experience, which will help you reach your goals. You are not born a poker player; you become one.
4. The poker pros have an IQ close to genius
There is misconception that to play poker professionally, you need to have high IQ. While the best players certainly have a higher than the average IQ, this would be true for most top professionals in any field. You do not have to be Albert Einstein to win at poker; you just need to work your ass off.
3. The best players in the world try to outsmart themselves
In many poker shows you see top pros battling it out, and you can think that the best players in the world play exclusively against each other.
However, if the top poker players would be doing it, they would have to play using GTO poker strategy, and all of them would be close to breaking even in the long run and losing from the rake. They make most of their money from weaker players. Most of the time, it is about getting the chips of a rich whale who wants a piece of the action against the best in the world.
When it comes to the typical poker pro, the situation is similar. The most of the winnings come from bad players, both live and online. Therefore, you should learn how to find good games and to not chase better players trying to prove something to them or yourself.
2. Pros are chasing that ‘one big hit’
This is another common misconception, which comes from movies and seeing big tournament hits online. For example, in the classic poker movie “Rounders,” Matt Damon’s character is dreaming about winning the WSOP Main Event. In reality, being a poker professional is one endless grind. What makes the difference, in the long run, is consistency.
Sure, the best out there sometimes win life-changing prizes in tournaments, but that is not always the case. Most of the time, poker players slowly build their bankroll by regularly beating the games.
1. It’s all about the bluffing
It is so appealing to the eye of the beholder that many people believe poker is all about making that risky bluff at the right time and scooping the pot. However, this is not entirely accurate. Bluffing is certainly an essential part of poker, and professional players are very good at identifying profitable spots to pull the trigger and bluff.
Nevertheless, this is just one part of the game, and probably not even the most important. You have to know all the basics, learn pre-flop ranges, understand when to make a continuation bet, how to balance your ranges and only then start thinking about running those big bluff. Poker is about building a solid strategy and sticking to it.
In the end, it all boils down to a lot of hard work, discipline and the ability to maintain concentration for extended periods. If you can do that, poker will give you a great life!