Sports & Games

Daniel Negreanu’s Top Tips for Becoming a (Successful) Professional Poker Player

Written by MasterClass

Mar 25, 2019 • 3 min read

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Daniel Negreanu Teaches Poker

If your ambition is to be a professional poker player, it is important to have a plan for your progression. Success in your poker career will take a lot of hard work and a plan will greatly increase your chances of realizing your goals.

World-class poker players reach the pinnacle of their careers by working incredibly hard away from the poker table. You have to take the time to work through new concepts and drill the fundamentals of how a certain situation is played, in order to be able to apply that knowledge at game speed. This grind in the lab is just as important as gaining experience over the felt.

Professional poker player Daniel Negreanu says:

“A combination of work away from the table, study, and practice is just as important as actually playing poker and getting the experience that you do at the felt.”

Read on for Daniel’s top tips for becoming a successful professional poker player.

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7 Tips for Becoming a Poker Pro

1. Study at least 20% of the time.

Professional poker player Daniel Negreanu recommends starting with a play/study ratio of around 80/20 for optimum results. In addition, you must bring your A-game to the table consistently. It is also important to lead a balanced life because your mind will perform poorly if overextended.

2. Don’t just play one type of poker.

Tournament players can play poker cash games to increase their skill level at deep-stack poker. While being predominantly about short-stack play, tournaments do start off with deep stacks. This cross-discipline training is necessary to reach your potential and acts as a safety net if your regular game goes out of fashion. Being an all-round poker player will help your long-term results. (Find Daniel Negreanu’s winning cash game strategy here.)

3. Treat it like a business.

Treating your poker career as a business is a great way to maximize your income. Keeping detailed records of all your profit/loss figures will allow you to adjust in the most efficient way. Another way to ensure that your business thrives is to analyze playing statistics in order to highlight the leaks in your game. Identifying your leaks is the first step toward fixing them.

4. Use technology.

Daniel encourages you to make the most of the digital resources available to poker players today. Playing online or watching skilled players on Twitch.tv is one of the best ways to speed up your learning process. Online poker play is much faster than live games and you’re able to play multiple tables at once—and for lower stakes. As such, online experience adds up extremely fast: you could accumulate as much experience by age 23 as legendary player Doyle Brunson did in 60 years. Simulation software also allows you to advance your understanding of how to play various hands.

5. Learn from other players.

When playing online poker, you should compare your data against that of the good players you’re up against. Try to identify the things that they are doing that you are not, and start incorporating those tactics into your game as part of your overall poker strategy.

6. Evaluate your bad beats objectively.

As an elite poker player, you must be self-aware enough to determine if bad beats really are the result of bad luck, or if you’re just playing poorly. One way to do this is to discuss bad runs with stronger players to see what they think. Regardless of how you go about it, there is no value in playing the victim. You should always be thinking critically about your game and trying to figure out ways to improve your win-rate.

7. Train your body as well as your mind.

The world’s best players—including Daniel—now approach poker like athletes. To perform well over the course of a grueling tournament like the World Series of Poker, in which days can be 16 hours long, you have to prepare your body and mind. Physical exercise and meditation will help you to achieve your potential and avoid tilt (which can cause losses). Learn more about tilt here.

Most importantly, remember: full-time professional poker players do not get a regular paycheck. The lifestyle demands self-discipline and a yearning to rise through the stakes. It is crucial that you never let your ego affect your mindset.

Learn more poker playing tips from Daniel Negreanu.