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Wednesday, October 21, 2020
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Tadas Peckaitis has been a professional poker player, coach and author for almost a decade. He is a manager and head coach at where he shares his experience, and poker strategy tips. Tadas plays poker, mostly online, but also manages to play live events while travelling through Europe and the U.S. He is a big fan of personal effectiveness and always trying to do more. Tadas regularly shares his knowledge about both of these topics with his students, and deeply enjoys it. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, or visit

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Top 10 tips for playing poker for a living

There is a world of difference between playing poker for a living and recreational approach to this game. If your goal is to have fun at the tables, you do not need to do or learn much and can enjoy poker whenever you feel like playing.

One of the first things you should master is the math of the game.

One of the first things you should master is the math of the game. (photo by Wikimedia Commons)

However, if your goal is to consistently earn money and play poker professionally, you need to approach every single situation differently if you want to succeed in the long run.

While the idea of easy money and ultimate freedom might be tempting, playing poker for a living is not as easy as it might appear. That said, if you know what you should be doing and are ready to put in the work, there is no reason why you should not succeed in this game.

10. Learn poker math
One of the first things you should master is the math of the game. On top of knowing how to calculate outs and odds of common situations, you should definitely spend some time to understand bet sizing and how you can manipulate your opponents play using that.

After all, poker is the game of numbers, and only those who understand these numbers can reach success in the long run. So, start by learning what matters and build solid foundations for your future success.

9. Understand variance
Have you ever heard someone saying that online poker is rigged? I certainly have, and that is a clear sign that these players have no idea what variance is and how to deal with this inevitable part of the game.

If you want to play poker professionally, be sure to understand what kind of swings you will encounter and be prepared to tackle both financial and emotional stress that can come along.

It is one thing to know that you can lose 30 buy-ins even if you play good and entirely another actually to face such swing in your sessions. However, variance is one of the main reasons why we have recreational players in the game, so you should be rather glad about it, rather than frustrated when you lose.

Of course, it is more brutal in some formats than in others, so you are likely to face bigger swings in multi-table tournaments (MTTs) than in cash games, but the most important factor here is your skill level. The bigger edge and win rate you have on your opponents, the smaller swings you will have. So it pays to be good!

8. Use proper bankroll management
Using proper bankroll management is probably a tip that you will find in every list of this kind, and there is a reason for that. Even if you are an exceptionally talented player, but can’t follow simple money management rules, you are almost guaranteed to bust your bankroll at one point in your career.

If that is the case, you will likely overestimate your skills and probably take too many risks, which can cost you all of your money. Equally costly could be playing on lower stakes for too long, so using proper bankroll management can protect you in the worst-case scenario and help you make more money when you are winning. Something worth following, right?

7. Find the best games
If your goal is to make a living playing poker, then playing in a poor game is a losing proposition no matter what. When you spend time playing in an average game, this also means you are not playing at a great game that is running somewhere, and this way of thinking might help you a lot.

So instead of blindly launching tables and sitting wherever you can find an empty seat, invest time in table selecting and make it one of your priorities when you sit down to play. If you constantly play with looser players who are making more mistakes, you will undoubtedly increase your win rate, and that will help you not only boost your progress but also enjoy the games even more.

6. Stick to one format
One of the mistakes that I was guilty of at the beginning of my poker career is jumping from one game to another. I tried tournaments and cash games, played both live and online, and constantly switched between those. And it cost me a lot of money.

So while you should carefully weigh your options when choosing what you want to play, you should stick to one format when you make the final decision. This will help you concentrate on mastering one discipline, so naturally, results will come much faster.

On top of that, you should not mix cash games with MTTs and play it simultaneously since that will need a lot of your focus and can be confusing, which will not benefit your bottom line.

5. Take your time
Rushing when making decisions is a costly mistake, and as soon as you decide to play poker for a living, you should forget about auto-piloting through your games. While playing too fast will lead to making occasional misclick in poker games, that is not the worst part.

If you play too fast, you will almost surely not evaluate all available information and leave money at the table, which is never good if you want to produce solid results.

4. Control your emotions
As we all know, poker can be a very emotional game. But if you follow previous tips of understanding variance and using proper bankroll management, you are already ahead of the game.

If there is one tip that I want you to take away from this part is that you should never start your session when you feel any kind of influence of emotions. Either you are angry, sad, or even overly excited, all of this will reflect on your play, and you are very likely to deviate from optimal strategy.

The same could be said about quitting your sessions. As soon as you notice you are not playing at your best, just take a break or call it a day. The games are not going anywhere, but if you learn to control your emotions, you will have a huge edge over your opponents, and it will quickly pay you dividends.

3. Use software
This point probably needs the least explanation since software like Holdem Manager 3 or other tracking and training tools is vital in today's games.

You can be sure that almost all of your opponents are using these tools to improve, so not taking advantage of what is available to you would not be a wise choice. After all, it is just another way to increase your bottom line, and every professional needs solid tools.

Many players concentrate on results rather than on decisions that they make.

Many players concentrate on results rather than on decisions that they make. (photo by Wikimedia Commons)

2. Concentrate on making decisions
Many players concentrate on results rather than on decisions that they make, and that is something you should forget if you want to play poker professionally.

You probably already know that you can lose even if you make the perfect decision and get all your money in being 1 to 5 favorite on the flop. So if you end up losing, does this mean your decision was bad? Of course not, so you should not sweat about what is out of your control.

If you put all your energy at decision making and learn to detach from short term results, you will skyrocket your results faster than you can imagine. I know it surely was one of the turning points for me.

1. Keep learning
Last but not least, never stop learning. Poker is ever-evolving, and players already came a long way from making random decisions to having mathematically based unbeatable strategies, so you should not expect you will ever know it all.

Invest part of your time in studying on top of the hours you play to keep your edge over the competition. The moment you stop, someone will surely pass by with your money in their pockets.

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