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If you play enough poker, you will run across players on occasion that seem like they have the ability to be a pro poker player, but for whatever reason they only play recreationally.

Some of you may think that it is crazy that someone with “pro” ability might choose to forego a poker career, but many make that conscious choice annually. Here are five of the biggest reasons that a player might decide against turning pro.

You Aren’t Willing to Change Your Lifestyle

Turning pro often requires lifestyle changes that some aren’t willing to make. For example, a person living in the United States and wanting to play online poker professionally will be forced to make a tough decision.

If they stay in the United States, their only options for online poker are unregulated sites. This is a level or risk that most pros should stay away from. The other alternative would be to move outside of the United States in order to play on sites like PokerStars.

Read More: 10 Lessons for Living the Poker Lifestyle

Those that play live poker but live in states without live casinos will be forced to either travel extensively for poker or to move to another part of the country. Some are not willing to make a move just for the sake of poker, even if they feel they can make a run at turning pro.

You Lack the Drive or Desire to Be Successful

There are many players who approach “turning pro” with a recreational mentality. Some don’t realize the amount of work and study that is really required in order to be successful. A number of these players have not developed a proper work ethic to apply to poker.

There is a common misconception among some recreationals that poker players “play a game for a living.” What they discount is the amount of time, work and effort needed to become successful. This requires that one have the proper drive and without it, it is difficult to succeed long term.

You Have Poor Bankroll Management

From personal experience, I know many players with a ton of great results but they are unable to support themselves playing poker due to poor bankroll management. Common problems experienced by these players are leaks related to other forms of gambling such as sports betting or table games.

Other times, you have players that are trying to play too high for their bankroll or their general skill set. A player that is able to crush in tournament under $1,000 may not have the skill set to compete in $10k buy-ins.

Then you have players that try to live well beyond their means and wind up blowing their bankroll on their lifestyle. I can remember one player from a few years ago that had to get a backer to keep play poker but amazingly could somehow afford four cars, two houses, a jet ski and various other toys.

Other Life Responsibilities Get in the Way

There are times where certain life responsibilities conflict with one’s ability to play poker professionally. One great example is when someone has kids. Any parent can attest to the fact that kids change your entire world and your priorities. There are many poker players that have to reduce their schedules dramatically to fit their new family dynamic.

Life responsibilities aren’t necessarily tied to family. There are numerous competent “recreational” players in other industries that could easily play pro poker but choose not to because of business or other professional responsibilities.

You’re Honest About Your Ability

The sign of a good poker player is the ability to honestly evaluate their ability, especially when they are losing. Far too often a player will overestimate their ability and decide they have the skills to turn pro. This can be as a result of a winning streak or an unexpected big score.

Then there are the players that know their limitations. They evaluate their game versus others and realize that their run was fortunate or the perfect set of circumstance arose. In other cases, perhaps this person is a good player up to a certain limit but they know the limits of their skill.

This is the reason we sometimes see decent players at select events but we don’t see them traveling the full circuit or chasing poker glory. They know the limitations of their skill and they choose to stick with the game recreationally. There’s nothing wrong with this and often will save a player from a lifetime of heartache chasing after something that may never happen.

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James Guill

James Guill began his poker career in 2006, spending two years traveling the US tournament circuit. Since 2008, he has covered the game extensively for some of the biggest names in the industry. When not writing about the latest poker news, he can be found hunting for antique treasures in Central Virginia.

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