Pro Gamers and Pro Poker

5 Reasons Pro Gamers CRUSH at Online Poker

Last month Unibet held a poker tournament pitting some of the biggest names in eSports against each other. Representing top games like Starcraft II, DOTA2, Warcraft III, Hearthstone, and Heroes of the Storm, these players tested how well their gaming skills translated to the poker table. Kevin “Rotterdam08” van der Kooi, a renowned Starcraft II caster and player, came out on top and took down a prize of €5,000.

It’s not surprising that a real-time strategy gamer like Kevin can also crush at cards. So many of the same skills that make him an excpetional eSports competitor translate perfectly to the poker table.

1. Performing Well Under Pressure

These days eSports is big business, quickly approaching the notoriety of regular sports. Tournaments draw swarms of television crews, massive crowds, and monster prize pools. This environment puts a ton of pressure on the competitors, and those that rise to the top handle it well.

The same mental fortitude and resilience that keeps a pro gamer from cracking under pressure will also help him conquer tilt at the poker table. While your average card player will curse and steam when he takes his third bad beat in a row, the pro gamer is better equipped to roll with the blows.

2. Quickly Processing Lots of Information

Poker is a game of partial information. You often never see your opponents cards, but still have to make the best decision you can. The best players not only notice more details but are able to process all of that information faster.

Top gamers must do the same. To choose the best attack or counter-attack strategy, they must accurately predict what the opponent is up to based on limited details. Those that come out on top are most adept at seeing through the fog of war.

3. Thinking Many “Moves” Ahead

Beyond working with partial information, the further ahead a player is able to plan, the greater his advantage. Like a game of chess, the masters see far beyond the typical ploys of the amateur. They’ve studied and practiced scenarios over and over until complex maneuvers become second nature, and they are able to operate on a higher mental plane.

Thinking far ahead is also an essential poker skill. For example, winning a heads-up match often requires successful planning. You might use certain bet sizes and timings with various poker hands to create a false impression. Then at the critical moment, you switch your style to deceive him and win his stack.

You must even plan ahead within a single poker hand. If you bet the flop, and he raises, what will you do? Is it better to check-raise the flop? What if he checks back? Will you bet the turn, and then what will you do if raised?

4. Studying Strategy

Obviously these games encompass vast amounts of strategy. And the deeper you go, the deeper it gets. In the gaming realm, new ideas and tactics spread like wild fire across forums and arenas as soon as they’re revealed. Not only must you stay abreast of the latest trends, but to get ahead, you must be creative. Discovering new strategies requires an immense amount of study and practice outside the major tournaments.

Same in poker. The games get tougher every day. If you don’t improve, you fall behind. Those that are most successful are extremely self-disciplined. They create and follow good study routines. They practice good habits.

5. Uber-grinders

Both pro poker players and gamers alike are well accustomed to long hours, late nights and crazy schedules. You go where (and when) the action is, and on the international stage this could be any time of day depending on what time zone you happen to be in.

Also, many pros stream their play on sites like for some added income and exposure. And often the longer you stream, the more viewers you acquire. This motivates many game grinders and card sharks to log marathon sessions sometimes spanning over 12 hours at a time.

Retiring from Pro Gaming to Online Poker

While there are many skills that translate between the games, the reality is that the competitive strain on a pro gamer makes it hard for him to have a balanced life. Also, while the total prize pools in gaming continue to soar, this money is only awarded to a tiny portion of players.

That’s why many of these pros, as they move deeper into their 20’s, are “retiring to poker”. The schedule is far more relaxed and the money is more reliable.

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