Characteristics Of A Good Poker Player

poker Jan 02, 2019

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Characteristics of A Good Poker Player 

What does it take to be a high stakes poker player? What does it take to succeed in poker? How do you win tournaments? What are some of these character traits that get you to the highest levels in poker?

1. Good discipline levels 

It’s easy to not be disciplined when you are a poker player. Sometimes if you don’t feel like playing, you don’t play. But it is a double-edged sword. As a professional poker player, if you want to be one of the best in the world playing at the highest stakes, you have to show up even when you don’t feel like it.

2. Self-belief 

One thing most high stakes poker players have in common is that they have the self-belief that they can do it. Therefore, they go there and actually try. Many people go out there and think that many players are better than themselves. When you know you don’t understand certain things, that’s a pretty good first step since you know where you’re lacking. As you start believing in yourself more, you start to understand what is going around more. You then start to become a bigger winning player.

3. Resilience 

When the going gets tough, you need to be somebody that will hang in there. Everybody goes through downswings, nobody is an exception. A lot of times when you’re playing high stakes, you play a wider range of stakes as when a VIP shows up at a higher stakes game, you’re forced to play those games as well. A lot of times, you’re forced to put a high proportion of your bankroll on the line – the best decision you can make at that time. You need to understand you’re going to lose sometimes. Having that mental resilience of going through the tough times is extremely crucial, on top of discipline.

4. Great learning attitude 

The best players in the world – nobody got there by simply being talented or randomly getting there. All of them – even if they don’t spend a lot of time studying the theoretical aspects of the game, they spend a lot of time at the poker table trying to learn what other players are doing. If you look at those private games where some players don’t try to make money, the biggest winning players are those who always try to learn. They try to grow that 1% more every day. They all have a strong learning attitude that will be important for you to get to high stakes in poker.

5. Ability to separate emotion from your actions 

There is a space between an event that happens and your reaction to it, in that space lies your freedom. Being able to understand this – even when something bad happens – it has already happened. It is not easy to always control your emotions. But you don’t have to act on your emotions. That is the biggest difference. Being able to take my emotion out of the way and still play relatively solidly is very crucial.

 

FULL TRANSCRIPT

Characteristics of A Good Poker Player 

What does it take to be a high stakes poker player? What does it take to succeed in poker? How do you win tournaments? What are some of these character traits that get you to the highest levels in poker? Today I'll share the 5 character traits I see that are prevalent in almost all successful poker players. Some of these might be counter-intuitive, some might be common sense, but even though it is common sense, you should take that into account and realise these are things you can work on. 

1. Good discipline levels 

It’s easy to not be disciplined when you are a poker player. You have your own schedule in place, you can do whatever you want, you can fly wherever you want, you can play wherever you want. Sometime if you don’t feel like playing, you don’t play. But it is a double-edged sword. If you don’t have the discipline to show up when you don’t feel like showing up, it eats into your winnings. It’s hard for you to win long term if you don’t have the discipline to show up when you don’t feel like it. When you’re having a bad day sometimes, you have to know how many hours you want to play in a week/year and make sure you actually hit those milestones. Nobody is there to enforce those things onto you. As a professional poker player, if you want to be one of the best in the world playing at the highest stakes, you have to show up even when you don’t feel like it.

2. Self-belief 

One thing most high stakes poker players have in common is that they have the self-belief that they can do it. Therefore, they go there and actually try. Many people go out there and think that many players are better than themselves. When you know you don’t understand certain things, that’s a pretty good first step since you know where you’re lacking. But you need to have that self-belief to go and start understanding the things you don’t understand. If you see a good player play a hand in a way where you don’t understand why they did it, have the self-belief that you can go and seek to understand what he’s trying to do. As you start believing in yourself more, you start to understand what is going around more. You then start to become a bigger winning player.

3. Resilience 

When the going gets tough, you need to be somebody that will hang in there. Everybody goes through downswings, nobody is an exception. When I was earlier in my poker career, I would always look at high stakes poker players and think in my head – wow, it’s so easy. I did not understand that whether you’re a small/mid/high stakes player, it doesn’t really matter. You always have your bad days and downswings, or emotional pain. A lot of times when you’re playing high stakes, you play a wider range of stakes as when a VIP shows up at a higher stakes game, you’re forced to play those games as well. A lot of times, you’re forced to put a high proportion of your bankroll on the line – the best decision you can make at that time. You need to understand you’re going to lose sometimes. Having that mental resilience of going through the tough times is extremely crucial, on top of discipline. Play more, train more, learn more, grind more.

4. Great learning attitude 

The best players in the world – nobody got there by simply being talented or randomly getting there. All of them – even if they don’t spend a lot of time studying the theoretical aspects of the game, they spend a lot of time at the poker table trying to learn what other players are doing. If you go to Macau and play the nosebleeds games, everybody is trying to play better. If they don’t play better, they’re going to be stuck there forever. There are exceptions – people who get into the really good games and don’t need to get better. If you look at those private games where some players don’t try to make money, the biggest winning players are those who always try to learn. They try to grow that 1% more every day. They all have a strong learning attitude that will be important for you to get to high stakes in poker.

5. Ability to separate emotion from your actions 

There is a space between an event that happens and your reaction to it, in that space lies your freedom. Being able to understand this – even when something bad happens (you get bad beat)/having a bad day/the worst river card comes/you played a hand really badly – those are actions that have happened. It is not easy to always control your emotions. But you don’t have to act on your emotions. That is the biggest difference. I lost 5 buy-ins at a big game, what can I do? All I could do was to continue sitting at the table and play as well as I can. Although I definitely wasn’t feeling happy at that point, it doesn’t give me an excuse to play badly. Being able to take my emotion out of the way and still play relatively solidly is very crucial.

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