Being a poker pro can be an extremely lucrative profession. Much like the world of professional golf, there are huge prize purses to be won and the 19th 119th place finisher (depending upon the tournament) in a tournament is paid, so you do not have to win every event to have some big pay days. The cash games can get hundreds of thousands of dollars on the table at times (although you have to have the bankroll to play at the levels!) You get to play at ritzy, mega casinos like the Bellagio or the Rio for the WSOP, so what could be better?
I guess the main thing that people don’t realize is the incredible amount of time that goes into playing poker at the professional level. You don’t just walk into a casino, spend an hour at the table, and walk away with thousands of dollars. It is incredibly grueling to sit at a table and play cards for hours on end. If you play online, you are staring at a computer screen for hours and hours and hours. Tournament play is even worse than cash games because large field tournaments can take 6 hours, 10 hours, or in the case of WSOP events, days.
I played at a WSOP No Limit Holdem event with a $1500 buy in this year. The first day, in a field of 2600 entrants, I played from 12:00 noon, until 12:30am and busted out just before the end of the day about 20 places before I would have made the money and gotten paid! Of course, there were breaks every few hours and 45 minutes for dinner in the middle, but a less glamorous thing to do, I cannot imagine. Not to mention the fact that you are cramped into a small chair at a table with 8 or 9 other guys who may or may not take up their fair share of space. It gets old!
The constant travel can also wear on a person, as unless you live in Las Vegas or Los Angeles, you will very likely have to travel to find the games you want to play in. Eating out constantly and sleeping in motel beds is not always a picnic either.
You have to have a certain mentality to be a poker pro and not everyone has it. While anybody can play, to play successfully at the professional level requires a certain skill set as well as a tremendous amount of dedication and mental will power. If you can handle the pressures that accompany the profession, it can indeed be lucrative and glamorous. But, that is a big “if.”