He Who Has the Money Has the Power
"A fool and his money are soon parted." This classic proverb is the whole basis behind why many people enter poker. They are hoping to find plenty of bad players that they are able to milk for every dollar that they can. Whether you are a tournament player or a cash game player, at the end of the day, poker is all about making money.
Those that have the power in poker aren't always the best players, but those that have the most money. Sometimes it is the rich businessman that a game is built around. Other times it is the hotshot online pro that has made $2 Million online and challenging people to take shots at him. Several factors are key as to why some players have more pull in poker than others.
Many poker players, professional and amateur alike, have problems with bankroll management. Some players lose money by playing in games that their bankroll cannot support. Other players have lifestyle issues. For example, a player that makes $75,000 a year cannot go out and spend $100,000 a year. Their lifestyle will not support it.
Other players have gambling issues. Stu Ungar was famous for losing entire bankrolls on sports betting. It is rumored that T.J. Cloutier has gambled Millions away at the craps tables. The greatest gambler ever, Archie Kalas, was a fantastic poker player but gambled his winning away at high stakes craps and wound up broke.
There are several players, some of which are WSOP bracelet winners, that cannot afford to buy-in a major tournament due to bankroll issues. You will see some of them hustling for buy-ins or buy-ins to satellites from time to time. They are good players, but blow their bankrolls in other places.
It doesn't matter how good of a player that you are, you will go through streaks of bad luck. For example, the runner up of a WSOP event in 2007 went on a bad run and was almost broke by October of that year. He was forced to be staked by other players and was fortunately able to make a huge score a few months later.
However, this doesn't always happen. Sometimes people are unable to cope with the stress of losing and develop confidence issues and in some cases psychological issues that prevent them from being able to bounce back. Other time, the players fall into bad habits such as playing too high in an attempt to rebuild their bankrolls. As a result, they stay broke and can never rebound.
The definition of a professional poker player in the truest sense is one that makes their income exclusively from playing poker. As a result, many of today's superstar poker players are no longer truly professional poker players.
This is actually a good thing. What has happened is that many players have discovered the wisdom of investing in other avenues outside of poker and have built up a nice income off their investments. A very successful poker player, Mickey "Mouse" Mills is actually a real estate investor by trade, but has over $1 Million in lifetime tournament earnings. Many true professional poker players will never amass that much in their careers.
Amassing and ultimately being able to hold onto money is the key to becoming a winning poker player. It is also how one earns respect and moves up through the ranks in the game. Avoid some of the pitfalls listed above and you will be on your way to being a long term success at the poker tables.