What Makes a Great Poker Player – Five Essential Qualities
You can read books, study videos and watch poker pros all you want on TV, but at the end of the day, if you don’t have some innate talent for the game (and then do all you can do to hone that talent), you’re probably not going to get very far or make much money over the long haul. So what are the characteristics you need to bring to the table to dominate this tough game, and how can you enhance and improve them if they’re not very developed as yet?
Let’s uncover and explore the basic personality traits you’ll want to bring to the surface if you ever expect to take down a big tournament (or consistently make bank in cash games); take inventory and see which ones you possess in spades, and which ones need more hearty effort to bring out your diamond-in-the rough, so you can dominate all the poker clubs!
By the way, we’re not talking about your people-reading or math skills here; we’re talking about core personality traits that you must bring to the game in order to crush your opponents time after time. And away we go:
Here’s the deal: without a good dose of unabashed aggression at the tables, you’re just not going to be a winner over time. You simply can’t always wait for “good” cards to fall your way, and being an aggressive bettor who understands where you’re at in a hand (and how others perceive where you’re at), are key ingredients to poker success. To some degree, this is an acquired skill, but it is one of the reasons men have traditionally derided and dismissed female players as “weak”; they think, in a nutshell, that we don’t have any balls! While it may be more of challenge for some women to “go there” than others, the truth is, you can’t get away from the importance of this characteristic if you regularly expect to make bank. Find your inner tomboy and don’t be afraid to make bold moves when the time is right; your poker bankroll will thank you for it!
Poker is not a card game for sissies. Weak players will be gobbled up by sharks, and they will always wonder why these dudes seem to “hit” their hands time and time again, as they watch pots large and small go to other, more courageous opponents. You need to be unafraid to pounce – at the right times! – and force others to fold their marginal hands to your perhaps non-existent ones that are parlayed with bets that represent strength. This takes a certain degree of plain old, in-your-face daredevil. Once mastered, however, it is both financially and psychologically rewarding, knowing you have the tools to bust out other players when they are uncertain where they (and you!) are at in a given hand.
This quality is not to be confused with just plain stupidity! Like any good warrior, you need to be brave enough to walk onto a field filled with “bullets” and face the possibility of losing, or at least losing face, when your cards don’t hold up or materialize, or your bluffs don’t work. That doesn’t mean you should walk armorless into a flurry of oncoming bullets that are likely to knock you out! While no one is guaranteed success when engaging in battle, you naturally want to make the most considered and intelligent moves and attacks. Pick your battles, as the old saying goes, in order to win the war, and when you do, bring a sense of invincibility with you. Boldness, as Nietzsche once wrote, has genius, power and magic in it.
A surprisingly underrated quality required to be a great poker player, this is where the amateur and the pro often part company. Nervous about where they’re at in a hand or if they’re making the “right” move, amateurs will often show waffliness as a tell that makes more seasoned (and confident!) pros move in for the kill. In life, as in poker, confidence is probably at least 50% of the game, in terms of success and achievement. Even bad beats and the occasional losing session must be met with the confidence that you have only hit a temporary snag, not a cement wall. Different people have different ways of building their own confidence level; but however you do it, make no mistake, you need this quality to hold your own at a poker table.
Perhaps because it’s considered more of a “female” trait, intuition may be poo-pooed by some as silly “black magic,” but as any mother knows, it’s as real as knowing something is wrong with your child even when there’s no obvious signs to show it. Great poker players have strong gut feelings, and they aren’t always living in their heads, calculating pot odds or considering how many outs they actually have. Sometimes you just know your one-outter is coming, or conversely, that your opponent is going to hit theirs. Learn to listen to your intuition, as it can potentially make you huge pots and keep you from losing chip stacks as well.
There you have it, five important traits to bump your poker game up to the next level. The reason poker challenges us so much is because it requires so many skill sets to play it with acumen and to bring home the bacon over and over. The more variety you have in your weapon kit, the better you will be able to hit your target with the flexibility needed to punch and duck depending on the situation. Work on honing these skills, and you will most certainly become a more successful, and more feared, poker warrior.