Boasting more players worldwide than tennis and golf, poker has rose to prominence as the most popular card game played by over 100 million people. Although poker has been regularly played across America since the World Series of Poker began in 1970, the emergence of online poker and hole-card cameras at the beginning of the 21st Century revolutionised the game on a global scale.
The surge in popularity led to an influx of sponsorship that produced televised poker tours, such as the World Poker Tour, that allow poker fans and people who are new to the game to watch the excitement, tension and skill of playing poker in action.
More importantly, it created a new wave of poker players who can take to the game in a casino, in the comfort of their own home or on the go via smartphone apps.
The transformation from recreational activity to a hugely popular spectator game with international audiences and multi-million pound tournament prizes has led to a considerable increase in professional players. The considerable riches available for playing poker tournaments online can entice men and women from all backgrounds to take up the game as a way of living.
Can I become a Professional?
As the game is ultimately open for anyone to play, irrespective of their experience or level of skill, becoming a professional is a viable option. Money-based tournaments are regularly held across online poker sites for amateur players to pit their wits against each other for a big cash win.
Certain tournaments allow casual players to play against the very best professionals in world poker; although you would naturally assume the pros dominate such tournaments, the sheer unpredictability of the game can result in underdogs walking away with the prize.
Essentially, every poker player has to start at the bottom, whether it is through casual game with a group of friends or playing online for small amounts of money, and work their way towards participating in the big-money tournaments.
Being a professional poker player does not necessarily mean you come from a wealthy background or have to be instantly formidable at the game. Poker boasts a considerable number of rags to riches stories which can help to inspire players to make playing online their main source of income. Tom Dwan, considered to be amongst the most feared players in professional poker, started his ascendance to poker stardom with a $50 deposit on Paradise Poker at the age of seventeen.
Perhaps more prominent is the story of Mark Fleddermann, a journeyman poker player who, in the face of adversity and potential poverty, turned $4 into $65,000.
Learn the Rules
For anyone looking to take up poker as a way to make a living, it is highly recommended that you learn the terminology and develop an effective playing style that works. Gaining a firm understanding of the rules can go a long way towards being a successful poker player.
Playing online is arguably more difficult than in a casino as you are unable to see the other players, thus removing the ability to see any obvious tells. However, it increases the level of skill required to be successful as you must use instinct and a clever poker brain to effectively bet or bluff through each hand. Having a strong poker face is only at its most effective when playing in the presence of others, but it is fundamentally important to be strong-minded and calculated when playing online.
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The Potential Pitfalls
While online poker tournaments can lead to substantial winnings and potential wealth, it can have serious repercussions if the cards do not fall right. Suffering from a losing streak or bad luck, known in poker as a ‘bad beat’, can prove costly if playing poker is your only source of income.
The difference between winning and losing can come down to the single turn of a card which not only illustrates the element of risk and chance involved in poker, but also the chance of losing everything. Playing poker online carries the potential of assembling a considerable financial gain, but depending on the game as a form of income is simply unstable as it is not guaranteed or fixed. While becoming a professional online poker player is a viable option, stories such as Mark Fleddermann illustrate that, although you may strike lucky and find fortune, putting everything on the line could leave you bankrupt or facing poverty.