What Skills Make Professional Poker Players So Good
We know that you are eager to delve into the secrets of successful poker players who keep winning very consistently at the tables.
We put together a list of key traits that the top poker players in the world possess in this article.
Professional poker players who win money at cash games and tournaments have the humility to acknowledge the role of luck in their success.
They know that they cannot win a game without a little bit of luck going their way. While luck is not a skill, it is definitely a factor that plays a role in overall poker success.
However, luck alone does not make professional poker players consistent at winning. Skills, knowledge of strategies, and the willingness to learn also play a role.
Tournaments, for example, have large player fields and large payout structures and you certainly need an element of luck to beat the odds and be the last man or woman standing at a massive tournament like the WSOP Main Event for example. Luck matters even less in cash games, which have fewer participants.
Successful poker players are humble, eager to learn more, disciplined, and expert at managing their time and emotions. They are also willing to acknowledge that no matter how good they are at poker, there is a bit of luck involved with their overall success at the poker tables!
# Natural Ability
Many professional poker players, such as Stu Unger, Doyle Brunson and Phil Hellmuth, owe their success to their natural ability. Some players seem to have poker in their DNA. In other words, they have a natural talent for the game.
Natural ability for these poker players means that they don’t have to work hard at their game like most of the other poker players. One way to compare this is to look at the success of Michael Jordan. While Jordan did practice and train like all the other NBA players, he was gifted with a natural ability that caused him to be one of the greatest of all time.
Top poker pros like Phil Ivey and Daniel Negreanu have loads of natural ability when it comes to playing poker.
However, natural ability alone cannot make you a poker success. The world of poker is highly competitive, and unless you work hard at your game, which is what the best poker players do all the time, you are unlikely to succeed.
# Ability to Handle Difficult Situations
Fedor Holz, a professional poker player from Germany, who has won two WSOP bracelets and earned over $13 million playing WSOP events, says that poker players should understand how to lose. They must realize that losing is a natural part of playing poker. He says a proper mindset is fundamental. He says he sticks to a routine when he loses a game—he applies logic and continues to play.
Learning to handle difficult situations is another secret to becoming a successful player. The cards are not always in your favor, and you must understand this before you start to play. Downswings happen to all players, even the most successful ones. Sometimes they last for years and you must learn how to handle the downswings as well.
While amateur players tilt and lose their confidence during a downswing, professional poker players remain emotionally stable and retain confidence in their gaming style. Also, they continue to improve their game.
You cannot become successful at anything, including poker, without discipline.
Discipline helps players handle frustrating situations at the table, fold when the cards are not in their favor, acknowledge their shortcomings, and improve their skills.
Players who reach the heights of success and remain there for a long time are also the most disciplined. They analyze their strengths and weaknesses, improve their knowledge about the game, and perfect their strategies.
To become a disciplined poker player, you must evaluate yourself regularly and assess your efforts to maximize your opportunities for success.
# Fit and Healthy
Gone are the days when poker was only for outlaws and cowboys who drank and smoked as they played.
Protein shakes and mineral water have replaced whiskey and cigars at the poker tables. Modern players know that eating healthy food and keeping fit boost their energy and concentration, both of which are essential during gaming sessions.
Successful poker players eat a healthy diet, sleep well, and maintain fit bodies. Professional poker player Steven Van Zadelhoff, who won the World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP) Main event in 2017, is passionate about fitness. Zadelhoff says he grinds his ass off both in poker and in the gym. He also reveals he must have spent over 5,000 hours studying fitness and nutrition.
When you eat a healthy diet and stay fit, you become more disciplined and improve your ability to handle disasters at the gaming table. You make fewer mistakes, deal with downswings effectively, and become more alert to take advantage of various gaming situations.As a bonus, you also look good.
# Effective Bankroll Management
Bankroll management is essential in poker, and the top professional poker players are good at it. You may be a talented poker player, but you will not be successful if you cannot manage your bankroll well.
Successful poker players maintain a positive mental attitude about the money they bet on poker games. Worrying about going broke impacts your game negatively, and you will make expensive mistakes because of all that stress and worry.
Here is a bankroll-management strategy recreational poker players can use—play with only half your bankroll and keep the other half in a safe place. The knowledge that half your bankroll is in a safe place, and ready to sustain you during a downswing, will improve the quality of your game. However, you must replenish the “safe” funds every time you win. You can use this technique while playing tournaments and cash games.
Professional poker players need to use different bankroll management techniques. They need to save enough money to live on for at least six months, depending on how much they play and the amount they spend. In addition, they have to save half their bankrolls in a separate bank account for protection against downswings.
You will find plenty of bankroll management strategies online, and each player follows strategies tailored to their gaming style. Since successful poker players manage their bankrolls well, they never go broke, even during a downswing.
# High Levels of Concentration
Poker is a game of distractions, but players who get distracted easily do not become successful. Professional poker players focus on the one thing of great importance—making their next move.
If a professional poker player is card dead, he does not waste his time getting frustrated. Instead, he continues to focus on the game, learns from his own mistakes, and analyzes the moves of other players.
Poker tables are full of arguments, useless chitchat, and dozens of other distractions. But you need to learn how to focus if you want to become successful playing poker. Remember, it’s important to focus at the poker tables, but also important to relax once you stop playing poker.
The top poker players are good at socializing with other players and maintain a friendly relationship with their opponents even when they lose. The ability to socialize, make new friends, and maintain healthy relationships are skills all good professional poker players have because these traits help them to relax, de-stress and refresh themselves before they start another poker session.
# Manage Time Effectively
Professional poker players know how to manage their time and prioritize their wants vs. needs.
Poker is one of the main priorities in their lives and they devote a significant amount of time on a daily basis to learn, practice or play poker. In addition to playing tournaments and cash games, they take time to learn from their poker and life experiences.
When it comes to time management, these top poker players know how and when to end a gaming session and never waste time worrying about bad beats or downswings.
# Continuous Learners
Mediocre players think they know everything about poker once they have started winning a few games. But professional poker players know they can never learn enough about poker.
While average players stop working on their skills and strategies once they start winning, successful poker pros immerse themselves in continuous learning, irrespective of how much they win.
Professional poker players use several ways to learn — books, podcasts, articles, friends, vlogs, coaches and social networking platforms. YouTube channels and Twitch have become popular because they enable viewers to watch poker pros in action and learn from their moves.
You will find plenty of opportunities to improve your game and master your strategies. All you need to do is have a hunger to keep learning, getting better at the game and staying humble.
While we put on our best poker faces when we round up our friends in the living room for a poker party, it takes more than some shades and a cap to make you a top poker player. However, just like any other career that requires you to be focused and attentive, so does professional poker, but if you want to just have abit of fun and make a little money whilst doing it, there aren’t many better games that allows you to do that than poker!