“I’m a poker player. You just play poker”
To me, a professional poker player is someone who earns a living playing poker as his or her primary source of income. Semi-professionals, on the other hand, play part-time for profit while holding down “a real job”, whatever the heck that is.

Being a professional is not just about having money and sitting at the tables every day, being a professional is 80% about what you do away from the table. If you want to be successful at any venture in life, you have to exercise self-control by limiting, or better yet, eliminating any vices or distractions you may have if they prove to be destructive to your bankroll or game. You have to manage your money well, never be a procrastinator when it comes to putting in work, be willing to study away from the table, and also exercise while maintaining a balanced diet. You must develop and implement a system that incorporates each of these factors into your daily life, working every day to improve in each aspect.

I am a big believer of the compound effect. Learn more about the compound effect at

What do I do on a daily basis to keep my game sharp? I am constantly learning. I listen to poker and business podcasts daily. I listen to poker audio books, watch poker videos, discuss hands with friends and am active on poker forums.

When it comes to my diet I make a conscious effort to eat foods that allow me to think clearer while reducing fatigue. I work out at least five times a week. Yes I work out for my overall health and wellness, but also because working out gives me more energy at the tables. In my opinion a poker player is a business owner and entrepreneur. A quote that has stuck with me through the years is that “it is important to work on your business, not in your business.”.It is from the book The E-Myth by Michael Gerber. This basically means in order to run and operate a successful business you must learn how to work on improving the business by utilizing systems that operate at maximum efficiency and productivity.

How does this relate to poker?

While poker is not identical to a business and you can’t just make clones of yourself to go out and make money playing poker, we can play higher stakes to earn money faster which can free up our time. Also, in poker most people don’t have any system designed for their actions before or after they play. They don’t warm-up or cool down. When you play poker you need to have a system. Right now you may be thinking you have absolutely no system, but the truth is that you do, you just haven’t written it down. Parts of your system may include hand selection, how you determine if someone is bluffing, determining when to make a value bet or not or when to check/raise an opponent. Now it becomes important to identify your system, once you do, you may realize that some of your systems may be flawed which is the reason your win rate suffers or you lose much more often than you would like.

I dedicate about 20-30% of my time on practice. What’s interesting about this is that it may sound like quite a bit of time, but compare that an NFL football team. They spend an entire week on the field practicing, in the gym lifting weights, in the film room analyzing their competition all for use in a 60 minute game. Something to think about.

A true professional loves the chase of getting better so that when it is game time the work is easy.

Next week we will discuss moving up stakes.

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