How to become a professional poker player: strategies | P2 GUIDE

The strategic component is fundamental in the development of a poker game, but it acquires a new meaning when we talk about learning to play professional poker. How to become a professional poker player? Does the strategy vary a lot in high-level competitive games? What to take into account when facing higher level opponents?

The truth is that experience has a lot to say here, because there is no magic formula that teaches you how to play professional poker. The strategies are known in depth when they are applied during a game and it is necessary to go through it to know the difference with the theoretical bases, which often fall short or differ from what it actually means when put into practice.

Relativizing the concept of "winner"

When we talk about a winner in poker, we usually think of someone who takes the pot or has the highest hand. But what do we then call the player who has suffered the fewest losses of the entire table? As you can see, this somewhat upsets the traditional idea of what we mean by a winner.

In order to know how to learn to play professional poker, one of the first things to do is to delve into the strategy and relativize certain concepts. It is clear that accumulating money and good hands is important, but by itself this does not make someone a winner in a poker game. On the other hand, a player who knows his limitations and applies the mathematical basis to know his expected win ratio and acts accordingly can be considered more of a winner than anyone else.

If you want to learn to play professional poker it is essential that you develop a special ability to make a proper reading of the games. This is essential to study the opponents and to know what their game is based on.

About variance and playing styles

A concept that you should familiarize yourself with if you want to know how to be a professional poker player is variance. We have talked at length about what it is and what influence it has on the various forms of poker. For example, poker tournaments have a higher variance, which makes that the followers of this game model can even go a year without winning.

In fact, variance is one of the main reasons why results must be relativized. It is variance that means that players cannot afford to worry too much about the immediate result: learning to play professional poker means assuming that variance is out of their control and that everyone is exposed to it. It is impossible to control and only mathematical principles can be used to make more or less accurate estimates, but there comes a point where the player cannot handle this variable.

Instead, if you want to know how to be a poker professional, the first thing you have to do is to understand what variance is and understand how it influences a poker game. When you understand why a professional poker player looks longer term you will be ready to try to face other high level opponents.

As far as playing styles are concerned, there are four main profiles you should be aware of if you want to know how to play professional poker: tight, loose, aggressive and passive. Tight players tend to play a narrow range of hands; loose players play a wide range of hands; aggressive players bet and raise often; and passive players tend to prefer to check or pay to raise.

These styles are often combined, and identifying them is one of the skills needed to know how to play professional poker. Usually, the tight-aggressive profile is considered the most profitable because the loose and passive styles have significant shortcomings. Playing too many hands and in a passive way usually has dire consequences, something that you will see as you train.

To know how to become a professional poker player you will have to develop your own style of play, and most important of all: know how to change it to adapt to each game.

About deepstack in cash games

If you want to know how to be a professional poker player, you must be clear that in cash games a deepstack strategy is preferably used and in tournaments a shortstack one. Why is this so?

The main strategic difference between both types of game is in the number of big blinds we have at our disposal. In cash games you can have a minimum of 100 blinds, while in the most important levels of tournaments, they usually occur with blinds from 10 to 40 times. The difference, as you can see, is important.

Now, if you want to know how to be a professional poker player you have to understand that deepstack has many nuances. Some decisions are much more mechanical, but we will not stop to study every aspect, it would give us for a new series of articles. What you need to know is that the key to a deepstack strategy is to protect your chips and only risk when the probability of success is greater than 50%.

Online poker or face-to-face poker?

Although many players underestimate this question, if you want to know how to become a professional poker player you should know what are the main advantages and the most serious disadvantages you face depending on whether you choose to play in person or online.

In online poker you usually have a wider variety of tables to choose from and there is much more action. In a short time you can gain a lot of experience, which is essential if you want to know how to learn to play professional poker in an accelerated way. In addition, it is possible to play more than one table at a time and you can even play tournaments while at a cash poker table, although at the beginning it is preferable that you choose to focus on a single modality. An effective method to know how to be a poker professional tomorrow is to split the lessons and specialize little by little.

Another point in favor of online poker that can be of help to anyone who wants to know how to be a professional poker player: the use of computer support programs. And do not forget that there are more variants available, which can be a good way for anyone who wants to know how to learn to play professional poker in its various forms.

Now, in poker in person there are bigger prizes and it is much easier to concentrate, something fundamental. How to be a poker professional if concentration is not enhanced? It is directly impossible.

Another aspect to take into account is that opponents, contrary to popular belief, are easier in the face-to-face mode. Not because of their level, but because it is easier to study them, something vital if you want to know how to be a successful professional poker player.

Of course, in the face-to-face mode you will have to face a quite high rake, almost abusive, which may not be ideal if you are still in the process of training. To know how to be a professional poker player you must be able to identify these characteristics at the tables and avoid those that do not suit your way of playing. For example, many physical games adopt the hyper turbo mode, which often increases variance by speeding up the action, which can affect your outcome.

More of this Guide:

How to become a professional poker player: prerequisites | Guide P1

How to become a professional poker player: tips for success | Guide P3

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