5 Things Professional Poker Players Will Never Do

5 Poker Secrets the Pros Don't Want You to Know About

Being a professional poker player seems to be as close to a dream job as there is. 

Playing cards professionally is not necessarily enticing because of the money, but because of the unprecedented amount of freedom it offers. 

All you need is a laptop, a bankroll, and you’re good to go, right?

In fact, I literally started my professional poker career with $60 and I have been traveling the world for over 10 years now.

Being able to live your life on your own terms is what virtually all people want, so it’s no wonder life of a poker pro seems so enticing. 

But there’s obviously so much more to the story.

If it were so "easy" then everybody would be doing it.

This article is not going to show you the 5 secret poker "hacks" that only the pros know. It's also not going to show you a new way to play your Ace-King better in multiway pots. 

Instead, it’s going to show you some aspects of the game the pros don’t often talk about, but enable them to consistently rake in much more money at the poker tables than most.

It’s not about secret superior strategies, but a different mindset that all of the most successful pros share. 

1. Winning Poker is About Discipline, Not Talent

What separates professional poker players from the rest is not some innate talent, superior skill set, a card sense, or whatever you want to call it (even though that’s also a part of the equation)

It is instead the simple fact that they put in way more effort into their game than recreational players do. 

In other words, they treat poker as a job. The only difference from a regular 9-5 job is the fact that you only have yourself to rely on to get the job done. 

There’s no boss to tell you when to show up, what to do, and when to leave. There’s no immediate pressure of getting fired if you decide to sleep in today. Or tomorrow. Or whenever. 

This sounds great in theory. Almost everybody dreams of being their own boss, setting their own hours, and doing life on their terms. 

But here’s the rub: 

You have to be your own boss. 

You have to set your own hours. 

You have to live your life on your own terms. 

Most people don’t get what it actually means to do that. 

They like the idea, but don’t think hard enough on what it actually entails. When you’re your own boss, you have nobody other than yourself to rely on to get the work done. 

Worse yet, you have to define what work is. And then you have to follow through. Even when you don’t feel like it, which is most of the time. 

Here’s another uncomfortable truth: 

When you’re your own boss, the work is NEVER done. The poker games are always running, and every hour you’re not playing is an hour you’re not getting paid. 

And even when you do play, there’s no guarantee you’ll get paid. Sometimes you’ll even lose money due to the short-term luck element involved. 

Imagine going to work every day, sitting in a cubicle for 8 hours, only to have your boss show up at the end of the month telling you that you owe him a thousand bucks for the pleasure. 

You’d be pissed, and rightfully so. But that’s poker for you. 

No matter how talented of a poker player you are, raw talent can only get you so far, just like in every other field. You may have a knack for the game, but so do millions of other players. 

If talent was all it took to succeed, there’d be way more millionaire poker players. 

Knowing the game inside out is only the first prerequisite, not the only one. 

Having the discipline to follow through, not just in playing when the cards don’t fall your way, but with continually improving your game off the felt is a skill very few players possess.

The craziest part is that there are more easy ways than ever to quickly improve your poker game these days.

But that is a topic for a whole different article.

2. Poker is a Hard Way to Make an Easy Living

The prospect of being your own boss, setting your own hours, and travelling the world are some of the perks you just can’t get at most 9-5 jobs. 

While the upside is certainly appealing, there’s obviously more to the story. 

Being a professional poker player offers an incomparable amount of personal freedom, but it comes with a cost. Being your own boss might sound great at first, until you realize what being a boss actually entails. 

As a professional poker player, you are self-employed. This means you don’t get the benefits of a steady, “real” job, like health plans, retirement plans, and so on. 

If you’re a person that greatly appreciates security and stability in your life, the life of a professional card player is not for you. 

Any benefits would be far overshadowed by the amount of stress caused by the uncertainty of the next “paycheck”. 

That’s not to say that professional poker players don’t fret about these things. They usually have some sort of a “safety net” to fall back on. 

They have an emergency fund, and probably a set number of months of expenses covered. 

This part is essential and non-negotiable. 

Playing poker is stressful enough as it is. Think about how stressful it would be if your livelihood depended on it.

Professional poker players rely on their ability to make the most +EV decisions at all times. And the only way to be able to do this is to have a certain peace of mind beforehand.

This is why I prefer to play online and live in a low cost of living destination as I discuss in a recent video.

By the way, I put out new poker strategy videos every week.

Join 70k+ who are already subscribed.

So being a professional poker player is basically managing not only your poker bankroll, but your liferoll as well. 

Contrary to popular belief, most poker players don’t live the life of glamour. 

Instead, they leverage the freedom their lifestyle allows them to drastically cut their expenses, like moving abroad, for example. 

If you live in Manhattan and have two kids, you probably won’t have the luxury of being a professional poker player. 

In order to have the amount of personal freedom that comes with being a poker pro, you will need to make some tradeoffs in the process. 

I won’t even go into the intricacies of bookkeeping,  paying your taxes, figuring out your retirement plan and all the other fun stuff you have to figure out for yourself. 

Suffice it to say, the amount of effort and hassle of playing cards professionally far exceeds your regular 9-5, and you aren’t always guaranteed a paycheck, despite your best efforts.
Since security and stability are quite high on most people’s list of priorities, it’s no wonder very few people can actually pull off what seems to be a dream job at the surface. 

Most people would do better to simply keep their day jobs.

Playing part-time is a whole different story though...

Learn to Make $2000 Per Month in Small Stakes Games With My Free Poker Cheat Sheet

Are you struggling to create consistent profits in small stakes poker games? Would you like to make a nice part time income of at least $2000 per month in these games? 5 Poker Secrets the Pros Don't Want You to Know About 

If so, then I wrote this free poker cheat sheet for you. 

This is the best completely free poker strategy guide available online today. It shows you how to crush the small stakes games step by step. 

Learn exactly what hands to play and when to bet, raise and bluff all in! 

These are the proven strategies that I have used as a 10+ year poker pro to create some of the highest winnings of all time in these games. 

Enter your details below and I will send my free poker "cheat sheet" to your inbox right now.


3. The Only Way to Beat the Game is to Play Against Weaker Players

Professional athletes compete against other professional athletes. They go toe-to-toe against players that have a similar skill level and constantly push themselves past their limitations. 

Professional poker players also continually improve their game, but they do not battle it out against other professionals (unless they are world class professionals themselves). 

Instead, most poker pros play against opponents they have a significant skill edge over. This means that most of them don’t play the nosebleed stakes. 

In fact, most of them play quite lower stakes. That’s because they know that the only way to beat the game over the long run is to play against inferior competition.

This is something I am well known for.

I have made a career out of playing against very weak competition in low stakes poker games.

And I don't apologize for this at all. I play this game to make a living. To make money.

I didn't get in this game to get a big ego and challenge other world class players.  

Think of it this way: 

If you are the sixth best poker player in the world, but you’re playing against the top 5 players, you will lose money, no matter how good you are.

Amateurs play poker to have fun, and potentially make some money here and there.

5 Poker Secrets the Pros Don't Want You to Know About

Professional poker players play poker to get paid, and they don’t care about having fun. Sure, they can still enjoy themselves while doing it, but that’s a secondary concern for them. 

When you play cards to pay the bills, your perspective shifts dramatically. 

There’s no place for ego anymore. You play the stakes where you know you are the best player on the table, and where you can win (somewhat) consistently. 

You don’t jump stakes just for the bragging rights. You don’t battle it out with the players that have the same skillset as you. 

Poker is a zero-sum game. 

In order for you to win, someone else has to lose. If you play against a bunch of regulars with the same skill level, you’re essentially just trading money back and forth, minus the rake. 

This could still be profitable if you’re putting in an insane volume and you’re getting a good rakeback deal.

Rakaeback by the way is the money that many online poker sites will return to you from the rake, as a bonus for playing on their site. 

But the rakeback programs aren’t nearly as generous as they once were, and being a “rakeback pro” is largely a thing of the past.

So poker pros need to strike a balance between playing the stakes that are big enough to make a significant income, but low enough so they know that they’re the best player in the game. 

Depending on their circumstances (i.e. which country they live in and what are their monthly expenses), some poker pros can get by by just heavily grinding the stakes as low as NL25 or NL50 online.

That's the 25c/50c blind and 50c/$1 cash games by the way. 

That’s not to say you should consider going pro if you’re beating these limits, as there’s obviously more factors that need to be considered. 

But if you can get by with reducing your monthly expenses, sure, you can move to Sub-saharan Africa and just grind the microstakes.

Or you could play a bit higher stakes and still pretty easily get by in Southeast Asia or Latin America as I have discussed for many years now.

I took the proverbial one way flight to Bangkok myself in 2012 and I have never looked back.

I have since traveled all over the world including Europe, East Asia, the Middle East and all throughout Latin America.

I am currently writing and editing this blog post from a beach in Costa Rica!

And I still spend the majority of the year living a low cost (but high quality) lifestyle in SE Asia for 1/3 the cost of what it would be in my home country, Canada.

By the way, I have an entire video covering this in my brand new Elite Poker University.

How to manage your life as a poker pro and escape your expensive Western country to go pursue your dreams as a poker pro.

This is in addition to 17 hours of advanced poker training, hundreds of step by step example hands and downloadable "cheat sheets" below all 50 videos.

I have just opened up enrollment again for a limited time.

If you are serious about taking your poker game to the next level, enroll today.

Enroll in BlackRain79 Elite Poker University

Get $100 OFF Use Code: ELITE100

4. The Mental Game is Just as Important as the Right Poker Strategy

The edges in poker are often razor thin these days.

This is especially true once you start moving up in stakes. You encounter more difficult opposition, and the recreational players are far and few in between. 

At a certain level, virtually every player you encounter will know how to play poker, and they won’t have any glaring weaknesses in their game.

Sure, you can learn some advanced poker strategy, but this will only get you so far.

If you’re only playing against players with the same skill level as you, you’re just trading money back and forth. 

These days, everyone can learn the winning poker strategy. 

Everyone can read the same books, watch the same videos, and take the same courses. What were once the secrets of the trade are now common knowledge. 

It's not exactly a secret anymore, what you need to learn in order to quickly improve your game.

So successful poker players today aren’t necessarily the ones that are the most technically savvy, but the ones who look for their edge elsewhere.

One such overlooked edge is in their mental game. 

Simply put, the mental game of poker is all about dealing with periods where cards simply won’t fall your way, and you will keep losing despite seemingly doing everything right.

5 Poker Secrets the Pros Don't Want You to Know About

I have discussed for many years on this blog how I prefer to live near the beach and play poker online in order to keep my emotional cool at all times.

This includes daily exercise, meditation, a clean diet and quality sleep.   

This has been one of the biggest "secrets" to my success over the years.

I should mention that I also spend very little time online anymore, I don't get into pointless Twitter wars, I don't follow politics, I never read Facebook or Reddit etc.

In fact, I hardly even use the internet anymore unless I am:

1) Playing poker online

2) Posting here on my poker blog

3) Posting on my poker YouTube channel

In other words, I have eliminated all of the endless "noise" online, so that I can stay focused on my goals.

All of this also helps me tremendously to stay off tilt when the bad beats seem to be endless!

Because believe me, I know that variance can be absolutely brutal in this game. It is especially devastating when your livelihood depends on how you’re running. 

Being technically proficient in the game is certainly not all it takes to survive over the long run. 

In other words, successful poker players will focus on improving their mental toughness. This goes well beyond just learning to smile through the never ending coolers and suckouts.

Poker pros are humans as well, and are prone to negative emotion like everybody else.

They know full well that relying on willpower alone is not enough to endure the vicissitudes that are part and parcel of poker. 

Instead, they design their lifestyle in a way that allows them to perform on the highest level, regardless of how well, or how terribly they’re running. 

In other words, they have their life in order before even sitting down to play. 

This means having a healthy, sustainable routine. Getting enough quality sleep, having a balanced diet and exercising regularly are a must. 

Being a professional card player is a sedentary endeavour, and it must be offset by other healthy habits to be sustainable. 

Poker pros have an unprecedented amount of freedom, but this doesn’t mean the freedom to do whatever they want, whenever they want. 

Try being a professional anything while having an irregular sleep cycle, eating junk and binge drinking during your off time. Your work will be subpar at best. 

5. You Have to be Obsessed to be a Poker Pro

Doing something as a hobby and doing it as a full time job is not the same thing. 

Your hobby is something you do because you enjoy it. Your job is something you do to put food on the table. 

Your job is something you “have to” do. Your hobby is something you get to do. 

A lot of people get the wrong impression that it would be great if they could somehow turn their hobby into a career. 

That way they could get the best of the both worlds: they get to enjoy what they do AND get paid for it. 

A lucky few people manage to pull it off, but most people can’t. And they shouldn’t try to, either.

In fact, this is one of the very first lessons that my high stakes mentor taught me early on in my professional poker career.

The first, and the most practical problem of turning your hobby into a career is the sad fact that most hobbies just aren’t lucrative. 

You might enjoy fishing or solving crossword puzzles, but you wouldn’t try to make a career out of it. 

Playing poker could be lucrative, to be sure. But even if you’re beating the game over the long run (which most people don’t), chances are you’re not earning enough for you to quit your job and go pro. 

Then you object that you COULD be earning enough if you increase your volume. 

You calculate your average hourly rate, and figure if you could quit your job and spend the time playing poker instead, you could make it work.

This brings us to the second problem. Just because you enjoy doing something as a hobby, doesn’t mean you’ll enjoy it when you do it as a job. 

Continuing with the fishing analogy. You might enjoy going fishing with your buddies over the weekend and have a couple of beers here and there. Sounds like a blast. 

Now imagine being cooped up in a boat day in and day out, breaking your back and exposed to the elements. Not fun at all.

When you do something as a hobby, you usually get to enjoy the best it has to offer, without needing to worry about the downsides and the not so fun element of it. 

When you have a job, you have to take the bad with the good. And when it comes to poker, there’s certainly a downside.

And in order to offset the downside, the upside really has to be worth it to you. It’s not enough to just “kinda like it.” You have to be enthralled by it. 

Most professional poker players have a near-obsession with the game. They live and breathe poker. Not only do they like playing it, they like to study it.

They like to talk about it. They dream about it. Most of us don’t dream about our 9-5. And even if we do, it’s usually in the form of a nightmare.

Most poker pros don’t go pro because of the money. That’s not their primary motivation. There are other, more lucrative, and certainly less stressful options out there if money is your primary concern. 

It’s not about the money. It’s about the lifestyle and everything that comes with it, both good and bad. They don’t mind the long, solitary hours. They don’t mind the grind. They don’t mind the uncertainty. 

Making money is great, and it would be foolish to say that it doesn’t matter. But waking up excited and looking forward to doing the work is better in my book.

By the way, if you are curious as well about what kind of poker winrates the pros have these days, here is some of the latest data.

5 Things Poker Pros Will Never Tell You - Summary

To sum up, here are the 5 secrets the poker pros don’t often talk about, but are instrumental in their success.

And you don't need to spend years studying advanced poker strategy to quickly understand them.

1. Winning poker is about discipline. 

Top poker pros owe their success not only to their innate talent, but to their superior work ethic, both on and off the felt. 

In other words, they treat their poker as a job.

2. Playing poker professionally is no walk in the park. 

Poker pros make what they do seem effortless, but it’s anything but. It’s unpredictable, stressful, and downright brutal at times. 

If stability is important for you, you might want to reconsider going pro.

3. You have to pick your battles. 

When you rely on cards to put food on your table, there’s no place for ego. 

You don’t jump stakes for the bragging rights. You only play in games you have a reasonable chance of winning. 

If this means grinding the microstakes, so be it.

4. Mental toughness is crucial. 

You have to prioritize a healthy lifestyle away from the tables in order to withstand the inevitable neverending swings in your results. 

Plenty of sleep, a quality diet, and regular exercise are non-negotiable in this regard.

5. You have to be a bit insane

Drastically going against the social fabric is not going to win you a lot of popularity contests, and you have to be ok with that. 

Liking poker somewhat is not enough. 

You have to have the level of passion that might put some people off. If you don’t mind being a weirdo, you just might have what it takes to go pro.

Lastly, if you want to know my complete strategy to make $2000+ a month playing poker, grab a copy of my free poker cheat sheet.

5 Things Professional Poker Players Will Never Do