How NOT To Be A Pro Poker Player

I’ve been around this game long enough to see players come and go. I’ve also seen my fair share of good players who couldn’t cut it for various reasons. It’s disheartening to see someone who has the skills to be one of the better players around, yet lacks many of the traits to have long term success.

Being a good player isn’t just about being good at cards. The list of variables involved that make up a long term winner is long and not many possess them. Here are a few reasons why many poker players fail.

Being a Degen

A degen is just slang for being a degenerate. When I call someone a degenerate, it means they have bad habits that revolve mostly around gambling. If you follow poker at all, you’ve probably heard of poker pro Phil Ivey’s high stakes Craps habit that often interferes with poker. If you’ve never seen some of the videos on You Tube, I highly recommend searching them out. A few have him playing Craps for $100,000+ a roll. It’s entertaining and a bit surreal all at the same time.

A player who takes their winnings and can’t keep them in their pocket for longer than 5 minutes will almost always fail at poker. Taking your money to the Craps or Roulette table is a recipe for disaster and should be avoided at all costs.

I’m not saying you should never play these casino games. I would still generally recommend not to. And if you play poker to support your Craps habit, you won’t be around for long, I don’t care how good you are.

Poor Bankroll Management

There are a few sites out there that will let you stake poker players or get stakes for yourself. I often wonder why a good player would need to be staked if they are so good. There are legitimate reasons a player could need staking, but that’s for another article.

A good portion of the time, a player will need staking because they cannot manage their own money well. A common scenario would be a player hitting a nice payday in a tournament and immediately playing all the highest buy in tournaments until he’s broke.

Just because you win a little or a lot does not mean you can instantly start playing $500 buy in MTTs every day. Stick with what got you there and continue to play at levels you’re good at.

I was guilty of this myself when I first started, but I learned quickly that it’s the wrong approach to the game. There should be no excuse for a good player who’s been around for a while to jump up in buy-ins just because she hit a nice score. It’s fine to play a few things out of your usual range, but have limits and continue to use a proper bankroll plan to ensure long term success.


This one is common in many players and can be deadly to even the best. The better players usually know how to control tilt, but at times it’s unavoidable.

When a player goes on tilt, many things can happen, and none are ever any good. A typical player on tilt will likely fall into a stupor of rage only to open their eyes and realize they just lost a ton of money that could have easily been avoided.

Getting upset about losing money is nothing to be ashamed about, but it’s how you react to it that matters. Getting up from the table or just sitting out a hand is perfectly fine if you it will keep you calm and focused. Do whatever it takes to avoid going on tilt and you will thank yourself later.

There are many other reasons a player will fail at poker, but these are some of the more typical ones you will see throughout the course of a poker career. It’s sad to see skill go to waste and at times, you may offer help, but sometimes a player is destined to fail no matter what.

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