Poker is one of the greatest hobbies in the world. But if you want to become a professional poker player, you’ll need more than just talent and a love for the game. You’ll have to treat poker like a serious business. The top pros in the game have some different approaches for how to get there, but for the most part, they take the following five steps to make sure they stay in front of the competition:

Setting Goals

What does being a professional poker player look like to you? Do you want to travel the world and play on the tournament circuit? Do you want to crush the cash games online or at your local casino? Whatever your vision, set concrete, manageable goals to help you get there, based on your skill level, your bankroll, and the number of hours you have for poker. Top pros re-visit and refine their goals on a regular basis as their careers unfold.

Doing the Math

Poker is a mind sport, but it’s also a series of financial transactions. You can grow your understanding of the game by working on the underlying math behind concepts like equity and pot odds. This is what the pros do, and they’ll use the latest poker software to help them with their calculations.

Studying Theory

Poker theory has grown by leaps and bounds since Doyle Brunson first unleashed Super/System back in 1979. The biggest advances have arguably come in the last five years with the advent of Game Theory Optimal (GTO) approaches. But there’s a lot more theory to keep on top of, from psychology and neurology to economics and cultural studies.

Staying Healthy

Even if you know all the math and theory in the universe, you’ll still make mistakes at the poker table if you’re not in good shape. Daniel Negreanu is a textbook example of someone who’s elevated his game by working out and eating healthy food.


Choosing Good Games

As they say, if you’re the ninth-best poker player in the world, and the top eight are at your table, you’re in big trouble. Your edge in poker is the difference between how well you play and how well your opponents play. Savvy pros are always on the lookout for “soft” games filled with recreational players. This is where most of your profits will come from – not from the Negreanus and the Phil Iveys of the poker world.