How Do I Play Cards For a Living?

Q: How Do I Become a Professional Poker Player?

A: It is the dream of many to avoid the pains of a regular 9-5 job to play poker for a living.

In the past, many dreamed of living the life of a Daniel Negreanu or Phil Ivey, taking down big scores in live, televised poker tournaments.

With the explosion in popularity of, however, things are changing, and now many people want to play poker and stream for a living.

What is the best way to become a professional poker player?

If you want to give yourself the best shot of succeeding in your goal of playing poker for a living, you should try and follow these steps. These are the steps that many before you have followed. It is not a guarantee of success, of course, though you will give yourself the best chance of success if you follow these steps:

1. Study. Study. Study. You should be digesting as much poker educational content as possible. If you can afford it, sign up to a site like Raise Your Edge and go through all of their content. If you can't afford to purchase educational content, watch your favourite poker streamers on Watch how they play. Listen to what they say in certain situations. You will learn.

2. Practice proper bankroll management. If you play on playing tournaments for a living, you should have at least a couple hundred buy-ins for the tournaments that you are playing. The same goes for cash games. The best way to incinerate your dreams of becoming a professional poker player is to play above your bankroll. This requires patience. Don't move up until your bankroll allows it. You can take shots every now and then, though make sure it doesn't wreck your bankroll.

3. Understand that this is a long-term endeavour. You aren't going to go from playing $1 buy-in tournaments to playing for a living in a couple of weeks. This will almost definitely take years of hard work to improve your game to a point where you can play for a living. Be patient. Rome wasn't built in a day.

4. Stream. Stream on while you play. Stream consistently. Build up a following. If you stream consistently, you will start to gain fans, and you will start to supplement your income from subscriptions and donations from If you get big enough one day, you might be able to turn your popularity into a sponsorship deal. Streaming on will force you to play your A-game as well - or, at least most of the time.

5. Work until you can afford to play poker for a living. This seems obvious, though many people will stop working before they are ready, and this inevitably leads to disaster. Work part-time or full-time while building your poker skills - whatever it takes so that you don't need to raid your poker bankroll in order to pay your bills. There is nothing wrong with working a 9-5 job and playing nights and weekends while you build your skills - many people do it. There is nothing worse than going through a dry spell and needing your poker bankroll in order to pay your expenses when you are just starting out.

6. Look for a mentor. Is there somebody that is willing to take you under their wing? Many joined stables when they were starting out, as they received coaching while being staked. This can also be a great way to take away the stress of building up a bankroll, as your buy-ins will be provided to you in return for being staked.

7. Understand variance. Things happen. Even the best players go on extended downswings. Don't let it defeat you.

8. Study. Study. Study. We are repeating this one before it is IMPORTANT. Work hard. Think about poker before you go to bed. Be obsessed with becoming a better player.

9. Don't listen to the doubters. The average person believes that you should follow the path that nearly everybody else takes. Working a 9-5 job that they hate. Buying a house. Etc. etc. Forge your own path in life and don't listen to the doubters.

10. Don't quit your job until you have a bankroll AND six months of expenses in a separate account. When you have that saved up, go for it, but not before.


There are people who will tell you that it is impossible to make a living playing poker. This is simply not true. There are many people out there grinding day in and day out, paying their bills and living the life that they want.

With that being said, you will need to put in a tremendous amount of work to get to your goal of becoming a professional poker player, though it is very possible. Work hard and don't let anybody bring you down. Practice proper bankroll management. Learn everything that you can about the proper way to play the game.

Good luck - you can do it.

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