Do you know what is the definition of a professional poker player? When can they consider themselves as a professional and not just an amateur poker players? What is their working time and who/what influenced them the most to start playing? Thanks to my anonymous interviewees who helped me clarify those questions I came to some interesting conclusions. Check it out.
“From the outside this is a perfect profession with a good salary, working from home or wherever, flexible working hours and fun work. But in reality, this is not the case. At least not for professional poker players. Usually, it starts just as a hobby. But once players decide for a professional way, the hard work begins. At the start, most players face stereotypes that poker is a classic gambling and consequently they are considered as gamblers. Or even that poker players are just those who cannot complete school. Knowers of online poker and the lifestyle of poker players certainly would not agree.
Slovenian literature does not yet know the official definition of a professional poker player. Poker is also not described in the Slovenian Code as a profession or type of work. However, there are many professional poker players in Slovenia, whose earnings with online poker are their main income. Interviewee 1 (2015) has provided an indicative definition of professional poker players, among which poker is “the only or main source of income, or rather, the one who treats is as a job.” Interviewee 2 (2015) argues that you can describe yourself as a professional poker player when you consider poker as a job. This means that you are not “gambling” but use poker profit as a source of income for survival. We can conclude that although there are no official definitions yet, the status of a professional poker player can be used for a person whose poker earnings are the original source of income while earning enough to survive himself and his family and even save some extra money.
Working time is another factor that confirms the definition of professional poker players. In the ordinary job, the working time is on average eight hours per day and five days a week. As for the poker players who decide for a professional career, working time extends for several hours. Of course, this includes not only playing poker but also learning strategies and analyzing the game. For interviewee 1 (2015) “working time is not precisely defined and often extended on the whole day”. Working hours range from 35 to 40 per week, and learning game takes another 10 hours. If possible, he takes Sundays off, which in most cases does not happen. Interviewee 2 (2015) makes about 50 hours per week, most of which in the evening and at night, as the game is the most profitable at the time. The reason for this is that statistically, most poker players play in the evening, but if they want to play against the Americans, the time is extended way past midnight.
Individuals opt for this kind of careers mostly in early age, when they still have a lot of time and greater enthusiasm. As mentioned before, the biggest impact on them has probably poker broadcasts on television and success stories. Interviewee 3 (2015) started playing at his age of 18 and was influenced primarily by competitiveness and potential earnings from home. The interviewee 2 (2015) was mainly influenced by the films and the good poker players that appeared in it. He started playing at the age of 25 and 12 years later he left his current job and started his professional career. Interviewee 1 (2015) opted for this way of earning money only at the age of 29, and his influence was a friend who is already quite a successful poker player. Interviewee 4 (2016) started playing poker in student years. Her boyfriend, now husband who has been professionally involved in poker before, is guilty of her successful career. The interviewee 5 (2016) began playing poker at his early age of 15. He said that the most influential ones were the forums and the books of successes. Since he was a fan of online games from before, the transformation was easy for him. At the same time, he is still a good connoisseur of the strategy and has fast reading skills. That’s why he began to earn a lot of money from poker very early and thus became a professional poker player.“
*Interviewee 1. 2015. Interview with the author. Ljubljana, April 30.
**Interviewee 2. 2015. Interview with the author. Ljubljana, April 27.
***Interviewee 3. 2015. Interview with the author. Ljubljana, April 26.
****Interviewee 4. 2016 Interview with the author. Ljubljana, July 1.
*****Interviewee 5. 2016 Interview with the author. Maribor. July 2.