What does "going pro" mean to you as a poker player?

Red Chip SocialRed Chip Social Red Chipper Posts: 110
edited January 2017 in General Concepts
What is a professional poker player, anyway?

Imagine you've "gone pro". What does that look like in terms of time invested, money earned, goals accomplished? What would be your personal definition of going pro?

And for you folks who have already gone pro, when did you start considering yourself pro, and under what circumstances would you no longer be a pro?


  • jeffncjeffnc Red Chipper Posts: 5,008 ✭✭✭✭✭
    I once talked to a player in a home game tourney. He had won a bar poker tournament, and got a gift card to the restaurant. So he said, "So I guess you could call me a semi-pro." He didn't seem to be joking.

    To me, there are 2 kinds of real pros - pure players (most of whom we've never heard of), and those with other poker related income. It makes a difference how you get your income. If you're a pure player, then you have to have a real bankroll to back you up and support you. If you don't have that bankroll, then you probably have to be staked. Obviously you're not going to be staked unless you're a winner, normally.

    If you get endorsements, book deals, coaching, etc., then you make your living from "poker", but not all from "playing poker".

    Then there are semi-pros. These are almost always pure players. To me a semi-pro is someone who gets money from a source other than poker as well, but if he didn't have his poker income, he'd have to do something else to make more money in his other job. He considers his other job a supplement to poker, or vice versa, but both are necessary to maintain his lifestyle.

    For most of my career I had a well paying job. I played poker for fun and a little money to kick around on the side. I didn't consider myself a semi-pro until I chose to change careers into one where I make significantly less money. So now I rely on that extra money from poker, literally to buy groceries, gas, and shoes for my son. (baby needs new soccer shoes!)
  • Ruxton_AtheistRuxton_Atheist Red Chipper Posts: 152 ✭✭✭
    Interesting. If I have a trust fund, but I play 50 hours of live poker per week, 40/52 weeks a year, am I not a professional? Even with a negative hourly? Surely there are many "professionals" who are lifetime losers. A reliance on poker income is not necessarily a good barometer for professional status.
  • persuadeopersuadeo Red Chipper Posts: 4,396 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Good point, RA. Being a professional, in the classic sense, involves more than doing something for the majority of one's income. It involves a commitment to a field of thought or action, and a even sense of ethics about it; this is why so many professions have societies and groups and degrees and associations, etc. This is also one of the reasons it is tricky to try to use the word with reference in the gambling arena. The word itself derives from profiteor, to avow publicly, to commit to something or make an allegiance, and not from a word involving job or work.

    So this is why, even if I make all my income from gambling, I don't consider myself a professional but would consider, for instance, a player and coach with his name on a website who is making an effort to promote the game, a true professional.
  • jeffncjeffnc Red Chipper Posts: 5,008 ✭✭✭✭✭
    You're going to be hard pressed to find a primary definition of the word "professional" that doesn't include a reference to a job that pays money, or a profession, which also implies direct compensation. What persuadeo is referring to as "true professional" is actually closer to the definition of "true amateur", e.g. athletes who have earned Olympic medals (back when the Olympics weren't all pros), or someone who becomes expert for the love of it (such as Bobby Jones the golfer), when they might or might not make money at it.

    So even if you consider the etymology of the word, as Wikipedia puts it: "as people became more and more specialized in their trade, they began to 'profess' their skill to others, and 'vow' to perform their trade to the highest known standard."

    But it all starts with their trade, i.e. their paying job. They get paid first, which allows them to spend all their time doing it and getting good at it.

    So I suppose you could say that there are people who make money that aren't "professionals", but you can't be a professional unless you make money at it.
  • persuadeopersuadeo Red Chipper Posts: 4,396 ✭✭✭✭✭
    My point, since I'm being referenced deceptively, is that professionals traditionally have a greater responsibility to their field than those who merely labor in it.
  • jeffncjeffnc Red Chipper Posts: 5,008 ✭✭✭✭✭
    persuadeo wrote:
    My point, since I'm being referenced deceptively, is that professionals traditionally have a greater responsibility to their field than those who merely labor in it.

    Deceptively? Really? Even when I explicitly mentioned your name? Odd choice of words, since we're on the subject of meaning.

    Anyway, my point was that words change meaning over time, so while profession might have meant something "traditionally" or "classically", it doesn't necessarily mean the same thing now.

    So while you might not consider yourself a professional gambler if you derive all your income from it, virtually everyone else in the world would these days. Because one of the modern meanings of "professional" is getting paid money for something that others commonly pay for, volunteer for, or do just for fun. Professional golfer, professional body builder, professional video gamer, professional gambler. That's why when you ask a surgeon what he does for a living, he never says "I'm a professional surgeon." However a fireman might call himself a professional fireman, to distinguish himself from a volunteer fireman.

    The OP asked how you would describe being professional, and you answered. I hoped to be adding to the discussion by saying that others' perspective of you would likely be different than your own, that's all. I wasn't disagreeing with you really - your comments about dedication and responsibility beyond mere labor are noteworthy as well. There is still a well understood meaning today of a term such as "professional conduct" e.g.
  • jeffncjeffnc Red Chipper Posts: 5,008 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Surely there are many "professionals" who are lifetime losers. A reliance on poker income is not necessarily a good barometer for professional status.

    Depending on what you mean by lifetime loser, I can't really agree. Where do these people get their money? Perhaps you mean someone like John Patrick, the gambling author. Now, clearly this guy isn't a professional gambler in the sense that he makes money gambling. At least, not at the games he writes about (his strategies are not winning strategies.) But surely he makes some money from his books. If he gambles (which is hard to know), then surely he's a lifetime loser. Would you consider someone who makes money selling books on blackjack, but loses money playing blackjack, to be a professional?

    Actually that sounds borderline unethical, making him the opposite of "professional", if I understand your meaning of the word. (He gives bad blackjack plays in his books.)
  • blasterblaster Red Chipper Posts: 91 ✭✭
    This is an interesting question. My definition of a "pro" had always been someone with no alternate source of income. I have had this debate with a close friend of mine and fellow red chipper on more than a few occasions. His sole source of income is poker but he refuses to acknowledge himself as a "pro player" for a number of reasons (too long to list here). He is a strong player, disciplined with his roll, plays up the levels when the opportunity arises, has a sharp mind for the game and (most importantly) has NEVER posted a losing month in three years of play. About a month ago i made the decision to play poker full time, my only source of income. Up to that point I considered myself a relatively successful rec player. I beat the cash games (never had a losing year), I win tourneys (won or chopped 11 local events last year including a 500) and now that i'm only playing poker, by my own definition, I would be a "pro". Except I'm not. My friend was right, he's not a pro either. Poker isn"t a profession. It isn't a career. That is something people tell themselves in an attempt to define what they are doing, maybe legitimize what they are doing. Poker is a game, played for money, with winners and losers. Nothing more nothing less. Hopefully, I will remain the former and good luck to the rest of you red chippers in reaching your poker goals.
  • persuadeopersuadeo Red Chipper Posts: 4,396 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Fair enough, Jeffnc.
  • Morgan_BMorgan_B Red Chipper Posts: 262 ✭✭
    ...... same thing with being a pro, if you think you are, you are...........

    I agree you should be considered a pro only if you're a winning player. The guy who quits his job and moves to Vegas with a bankroll is not a pro until he consistently wins enough to cover expenses.

    My income is solely from poker. I'm barely scraping by but I'm dedicated to improving, building up my bankroll, and moving up in stakes. I'm definitely not a pro in any other sense, at least not yet.
  • LastAvengerLastAvenger Red Chipper Posts: 23
    to me it's pretty black and white
    if your weekly/monthly/yearly income is from poker it's your job.
    you don't have to be a negrano level player, that's more to do with the level you play at you just need to be good enough to make enough from whatever level you can beat consistently and win enough on the upswings to cover the downswings.
  • MrPTMrPT Red Chipper Posts: 6
    ??????? Isn't the definition of professional.... engaged in a specified activity as one's main paid occupation rather than as a pastime.. Everyone stop over thinking it lol!!!! If your only source of income or main source is poker, YOU R A POKER PRO, if only a part of your income is poker than call yourself a semi professional poker pro. That's it!!! By all counts n definitions if your title is professional ________ whatever _________ is, is your main source of income!

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