From corporate nerd to Team Pro Online

It was another day at the office for me. I had to stay late with my team to finish a critical end-of-month closing task, something I didn't enjoy at all. I had been part of the corporate world for several years, so I was used to working late, but that day all I could think of was one thing: poker.

"I am going to be a professional poker player one day," I said.

"Yeah, right..." one of my co-workers replied in disbelief.

At that time I was a recreational player and I played cash games for fun after work or during the weekends, but the idea of becoming a pro was extremely tempting. I knew some people that were playing poker for a living, so why couldn't I give it a shot? It seemed they all had awesome lifestyles, tons of free time and a great life/job balance, everything I lacked at that time. It also seemed rather easy. After all, it is just a game, right?

As soon as I started studying poker I discovered I had completely underestimated how much effort you have to put in to be a professional player. I don't believe I have a "poker talent gene" in case something like that exists, so I had to work really hard to move up stakes and become a winning player. Juggling a full time job with my poker aspirations was not easy at all, so I often found myself studying ranges on the bus or doing EV calculations during my lunch breaks.

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Those were crazy months in my life, but I was 100% committed to my goals, and I truly wanted to make it work. There were many occassions when I wanted to give up because I thought I was not "good enough," but fortunately I was able to overcome that harmful mindset and keep working hard. One of my best strategies was surrounding myself with other poker players who were dealing with the same issues, being active at poker forums, and also creating a blog where I narrated my experiences as I made the transition to playing poker full time. Some people think that poker is a lonely activity, and it certainly is when you are at the tables, but at the same time it allowed me to meet tons of amazing people who are also passionate about this game.

I started playing 2NL, and after several months I had moved up stakes, and I was already making more money at the tables than in my job. I reached a point where I felt I had a "double life," pretending to be a serious employee during the day and a poker player during the night. So, I knew it was time for me to take the leap and go pro. I was very enthusiastic about finally quitting my job, but when I told different people my intentions I received the same response overall: you are not going to make it. They didn't believe I would be able to play poker professionally, and even my closest family members thought it was just a stupid idea I would forget in a few weeks.

The truth is, people enjoy telling others what they can and can't do. Some of them just want to put us down. People that love us do it because they don't want to see us fail, but whatever reason they might have it shouldn't matter to us. People also like to label others, but it is only up to you if you want to live up to that stereotype or take control of your life. Eight years ago I started running and I remember people laughing at me because I wasn't exactly a sporty person. I was a "nerdy girl" during high school and not particularly good at sports, so nobody believed I could do it. However I've been running since then, I've participated in many races and even won a few trophies.

Poker was no different for me. I was a straight-A student at college, I had a good job and outstanding performance reviews, I was about to get a promotion, and on top of that I am a girl. Not exactly the kind of person that plays cards for a living! But it was something that I wanted to do, and I had been working on for a long time, so I decided to give it a try. I couldn't be happier about this decision. I make a good living while doing what I'm passionate about. What else could I have asked for?

Well, maybe being a member of PokerStars Team Online!

When I first learned I was going to be part of the team I was over the moon. It was something completely unexpected and it still feels very unreal, but now I'm here I'm ready to do my best. Personally it is a huge motivation to keep improving my game and moving up stakes, but it is also a great opportunity to get in touch with other players and help beginners who are experiencing everything I had to go through not so long ago.

I am still learning about the game myself and I have a long path ahead of me, but my philosophy is to enjoy the journey to the fullest and always have lots of fun. So if you are interested in this exciting game, I invite you to join me in my adventures as I go from 9-5 to living the poker pro life.

Celeste 'LadyMaCe86' Orona is the newest member of Team Pro Online