Successful poker careers almost always begin online these days. Online poker offers an environment in which players have to deal with relatively good odds, and the countless bonuses, promotions and perks further augment player advantage.
Every poker career should start with study. First of all, the rules of the game have to be learned properly, but that can be achieved in about 10 minutes, so that is not the kind of studying I’m talking about. Regardless of which of the below presented paths one decides to take towards becoming a professional, one thing is common to all of them: without having a thorough understanding of the nature of the game, and mastering all aspects of advanced strategy, you’ll never make any money at it, so I suppose having a career as a poker player will also be out of the question. Download or buy some poker books, learn game theory, learn about what makes poker tick, as well as about the different strategy aspects involved. Keep in mind that despite looking fairly simple on the surface, Texas Holdem is an almost infinitely intricate game.
The bottom line is, in order to ever think about starting a career as a poker player, you need to be a good player, not a losing or a break-even one.
Once you know your game, you need to assess how much you’re willing to invest into kick-starting your career. Making a smallish deposit is the best way to go about it because: that way, you’ll be able to choose the poker rooms with the most advantageous sign-up bonus, and you will indeed get some bonus money which will infuse some more EV+ into your game. In this respect, you need to learn to assess bonuses. As a basic guideline: remember that it’s not the advertised amount that matters most, it’s the percentage match on your deposit, and – most importantly – the bonus redemption requirements, and conditions.
If you make a deposit, you’ll be able to play at a poker room which offers you rakeback. If you do not know what rakeback is, read up on it asap, because it’s the biggest edge you’ll ever be able to secure in online poker. Being a part of a lucrative rakeback deal will mean that you’ll be making money even as you break even or lose a little. It’s just like a never expiring sign-up bonus, one that keeps on giving.
If you decide that you cannot afford to deposit any money in an online poker room, you’ll still be able to start a career, although the adversity you’ll be facing will be much bigger, because you won’t be able to enjoy any of the advantages presented above.
Start playing in freerolls, and if you’re a good player, you should soon have some small change in your real money account. Freerolls are generally MTTs, so make sure your MTT strategy is in tip-top shape when you begin. Some poker rooms offer better EV freerolls than others, and that will kind of limit your choice of poker rooms. You will not get any percentage match on your bankroll either, since you’re not making a deposit, and a rakeback deal will also be out of the question.
Once you have your couple of dollars, you need to start playing in STTs. Avoid cash games and MTTs in the beginning, at least until you have a bankroll you feel comfortable with. STTs offer much better odds than cash games (which charge you rake on every hand you play) or MTTs (which hit you with a pretty big variance, your bankroll will simply not be able to handle).
As you’re beginning to build up a small-deposit size bankroll, you can go two ways: either continue playing at the room you’re at and build a bigger bankroll so you can take part in high prize-pool MTTs, or in cash games, or you can cash out, and move your bankroll over to a poker room which offers rakeback or cashback and a nice first-deposit bonus on top of it.
Once there, find yourself some good EV STTs (slowly climb up the buy-in ladder) or start playing in MTTs. When choosing the poker room you’ll deposit your money at, keep in mind that the looser and less experienced competition it has, the less likely it’ll be for you to hit a dead end.