How Do Professional Poker Players Get Sponsored?

min read
Two men in business suits shake hands next to a casino table.
BetMGM Aug 16, 2022, 4:57 AM

Professional players play poker online for money, but that’s not the only way they can earn a living. Many players turn to sponsorships to increase their earning potential. Learn how highly skilled professional poker players make money, not only through online poker tournaments and cash games, but also through lucrative sponsorship deals.

What it takes to become a professional player

Before we dive into the details of sponsorship deals, you may be wondering how poker players go pro and if you have what it takes. Here are some of the things you’ll need to know to consider yourself a potential candidate for professional poker:

You’ll need to study up

Once you’ve learned the basics, your poker education doesn’t stop there. To develop your poker skills, you’ll need to keep learning – and not just through experience. Watching videos, reading books and undertaking poker coaching are just a few ways to improve your game.

Get comfortable with casino technology

Players can also learn how to improve their play through tools like game theory optimal trainers. These tools can analyze a particular situation and help you understand what the best play is, so when you find yourself in that situation in a real game, you’ll know what to do. Take the time to research what kinds of technology are used in online poker and use that knowledge to your advantage.

Practice, practice, practice

Of course, studying all the time won’t matter much if you don’t put your learning into practice. After you’ve spent some time studying, it’s time to hit the tables and put your knowledge to the test.

Review, review, review

Review could technically fall under studying, but we’ve decided to give it its own category since it takes place after you’ve played a game. But yes, reviewing your play to identify what you did wrong and avoid making the same mistake in the future is vital.

Treat your mind and body well

To play at your best, you need to treat your mind and body with respect. This means different things for different people. Generally speaking, a good place to start is to ensure you’re getting proper amounts of rest, eating healthy foods and avoiding substances that can negatively affect your mind and body, such as alcohol.

Good money management skills

If you plan to sustain your lifestyle as a professional poker player, you’re going to need good money management skills. Without them, you’ll blow through your winnings in no time and then have to spend time and effort recouping them. This is how many talented but financially ignorant players find themselves frequently in debt. As good as they are at the game, they often burn through their money and rely on someone to stake them (back them) for a cut of their winnings.

Why poker players need sponsorships

Now that you’ve read what it takes to become a professional poker player, you might be wondering “Why do poker pros even need sponsorships?”.

The answer to this question is simple: to make more money. 

But that doesn’t mean that pros will use that money to buy a mansion or that yacht they always wanted.  Firstly, poker sponsorships provide far less than the kinds of amounts that pro athletes get, even if you’re the world’s next Justin Bonomo or Bryn Kenney. While there is potential for players to sign multi-million dollar deals, players are unlikely to land deals of this scale. Secondly, if you’re a pro who plays in in-person tournaments, the costs of participating in live tournaments can add up. The best-paying tournaments are often multi-day affairs that take place worldwide, which means paying for the buy-in, flights, accommodation, food and other miscellaneous costs. These make the actual cost of being a professional poker player much higher than you’d expect.

If you’re an outstanding player, you could pay for these costs out of your winnings – but sometimes even the best players don’t make it to the final table. If luck is really against them, on rare occasions they might even get knocked out early, meaning they don’t even take home any prize money at all! However, if you have regular income and bonuses through sponsorships, you can significantly reduce the financial risk of these in-person events. 

How to attract sponsorships

So if you’ve decided you want to go pro or are already starting to rake in the money, the next question is: how do you attract sponsorships? Here’s what you need to grab the attention of a potential sponsor.

Have the skills to win

Sadly, sponsors don’t come knocking on your door if you’re bad or average at the game. They don’t even reach out if you’re pretty good. To get sponsorships, you have to be great at poker, which means putting in the time and effort to study, play and start racking up the wins. 

Cultivate the right image

While some sponsors may be willing to look the other way if you don’t have an easily-marketable image, players like Phil Helmuth who can “get away” with poor poker etiquette and still attract sponsors are, more often than not, the exception rather than the rule. Some exceptions exist for companies willing to court controversy, but there aren’t that many willing to take this risk. This means that if you’re polite, personable and good at the game, you’re more likely to attract a wide range of good sponsorship deals.

Treat your poker brand like a business

While you may be used to playing poker into the late hours of the night (or early hours of the morning), the companies you’ll be seeking sponsorships with are professionally run businesses. This means you can’t just sleep all day and expect them to hold a meeting at 7 pm because you were catching up on your beauty sleep. You’ll also need to ensure that you communicate with them timeously and professionally. You can’t leave their emails in your inbox for multiple days, send them a casual reply and expect things to go well. 

Create content and get social online

You could be one of the best players in the world, but nobody will want to sponsor you if nobody knows you. Creating content online: YouTube videos, streaming on Twitch or writing blogs about poker are great ways to get noticed by potential sponsors. Building a social media presence on platforms like Instagram, TikTok and Twitter so that you can demonstrate that you already have an audience is another solid strategy to land a sponsorship deal.

Network offline

Networking with other players and fans (and not just those who can help you land a sponsorship deal right now) is vital to growing your brand and network. As you develop relationships with more people in person, sponsors are more likely to reach out to you so that they can connect with the people you’ve already fostered a relationship with.

Is there a sponsorship deal in your future?

Not everyone can go pro, and even fewer people can land lucrative sponsorships, but we hope this article will help to improve your chances of becoming a sponsored poker player.

Play poker online and more at BetMGM

Sponsorship or no sponsorship, the good news is that anyone can play online poker at BetMGM. That’s right. Whether you’re playing online poker with your friends or using the latest poker tournament tips to take your poker skills to the next level, there’s a variety of poker games with a range of buy-ins to suit your bankroll. 

And if you’d like to try another gambling experience, you can even try casino table games, live dealer casino games and many other online casino games at BetMGM.

Register at BetMGM to join in all the gambling thrills.

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Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.