by Julius Pinson
I have been asked by several players here at Pokerstars how I became a Pro. How does one go about becoming a Professional poker player? How have I survived in the world of poker all this time? Some of the semi-pro players wanting to take their game to the next level; have asked for advice on how to make it over some of the speed bumps they were encountering. What does it take to survive in this game that we love, I have pulled some pages out of my book (against any wishes of my publisher) for the players that needed to hear and read this now. My friends, being who I am, caring about my fellow players; I give you words that I hope help. This is what worked for me, so it may work for you as well. It is my opinion and the opinion of those that walked before me. They passed this on to me as I pass it on to you now.


If you are ready to make the decision to commit to taking the next step to becoming a professional or semi-pro poker player or just want to improve your game, the next step into the poker world can be a difficult one. Having a family to support and bills to pay can make this choice especially difficult. I have some ideas to share with you that may help you learn to balance out your life as a poker player and receive blessings from your family at the same time on your choice to become a Professional Poker Player.

When I first started out I had family and friends tell me that this was a phase in my life and would soon pass. I have to say that [bleeping] pissed me off. You must understand not everyone in our lives understands what we do. They do not understand that this is a job. A Professional Poker player has a job like any other Joe Six Pack that has to work for a living. We go to labor for 8 or more hours a day in stress, 5 to 6 days a week. Throw in tournament play with the commute to and from it we can be gone for days or weeks at a time.

A Professional Poker player is in the trenches daily grinding away with some of the best of the best to try and come out on top. Many people do not understand that. A Play to Live player knows it and treats the game with all the respect a job deserves. Fortunately for me I don’t have to put on a suit and tie and slave away in a cubicle listening to that nut case in the stall next door while slowly going insane. Don’t get me wrong, I have respect for folks that do that. They are getting their bills paid, J-O-B that’s a part of life. Although when playing live I do get to listen to the nut case to my left or right sometimes wishing I were playing online(lol). There are times I feel I want to bang my head against the felt on days when I can’t get a winning hand to save my soul. I have a set dollar amount that I need to make every day, so the pressure is on. I am a Pro and put the pressure in the background. Focused on the hand in front of me, knowing I cannot afford to go on tilt. Unlike the donks that play on line in the free rolls. They have nothing to lose. If they had to pay their electric bill from poker winnings they would not play that way if it was real money. This is how I am training for the online cash games and tournaments on line to build my bank roll. Then they wonder why we get pissed at them. They have no clue that some one’s kids depends on how we do in a cash game.

If you are a Play to live Player on the grind, working hard (which most of us are) you have to put in the time, plug away daily and pound out a living. If you are not prepared to do this then please take my advice and be the best Play to Play Player you can be. Just have fun and leave it at that, Keep the day job!

Everyone is not an overnight success in the game of poker if it were that easy there would be a [bleep] of a lot more million dollar players.

As a professional poker player what you make at the table is your income. You have to go to work to make a living at it. Thus, poker is a hard way to make an easy living as we say. It is important that the people around you are aware of that. Constant distractions or allowing yourself to be pulled off task will not get the electricity bill paid. No electricity >> No Computer >> No Online Poker. You would end up with one unhappy family and then an unhappy poker player on tilt due to life. A professional cannot let that happen.

Poker is like an iceberg. Friends, family and the non-players only see the very tip out of the water and think this is not that big. There are not too many rules most of which can be learned in a few minutes. But if you can see the whole iceberg you know how big it can be. Poker is like that. Non-players and our families see the tip of our work and think “Why are you stressing?” “It is easy to play and is mostly luck anyway.” Well that is further from the truth then they know. Yes, luck and the POKER GODS play a part, but we can’t get mad at people that can’t understand the whole. They do not know. Education and Communication is the key. One must be as honest and as up front as you can be. When it comes to family, there is never a time for the wool over the eyes bluff. At the table, to slow roll or cheat is the worst thing you can do to a Poker player. Do not slow roll or cheat your family as well. They must understand what your job is and how you must do it to get it done. To tell them everything is going to be ok does not give anyone a warm fuzzy feeling when it is not going well. I am writing my book to help poker players and their families understand what life is like for a professional poker player. As markedcard68 has found out (he has a blog out about this dilemma) there are times when life tries to throw every trick in the book to keep you from playing the game. Hold you back from doing your job. Check out his blog, if you have some ideas share them with him. I gave him a few and if nothing else give him a word of encouragement. On the table I want to cut your throat, poke a pen in your eye so you can’t see your cards and take all your chips. I play to live. Off the table I will give you the shirt off my back and help you in any way I can.

Life as a professional poker player is not easy. So all you Play to Play Players out there (read my blog on the three types of Players so you know what they are) before you sell the house, quit your job and head to Vegas because you think your all that, take note. It is not enough to hit a lucky patch rush for a few days at some casino or online and think you can make it in the big time. No sir, this is a hard life that can be rewarding, yet so frustrating as well. This frustration of the game is expressed well by DukeMorrison’s blog. His take on a online poker player’s ups and downs was so funny I nearly pissed my [bleeping] pants. I know he was in pain but had to laugh with him. Truthfully, I am not sure he was laughing when he was writing his blog. It was still funny none the less. If you are a higher level of player you can sympathize with him. I have felt that type of pain for years. Duke and I are survivors of the game. It was not pretty, but I survived. It sure the hell has not been easy, but I am still here working towards my dreams.

You can have the math and the game down, but how do you live your life to be able to play? The iceberg is a big one my friend. If you’re ready to commit to the game, work hard, support your family, pay your bills, suffer through the frustrations all in the name of that big payday with that golden bracelet waiting for you down the line, then jump in and hang on for the ride of your life.

Having your family and friend’s along for the ride will make the adventure even more enjoyable. My next blog will cover breaking the news to them to gain their respect and support.

In the top left of this page there are stars. Click on the star you think this information rates. It is not for my ego, but lets me know what type of information you want to hear. I can cover more information for the players in this format then one on one at the tables. If you want to read anymore of my blogs click on other post at bottom left of this page.