Being a great poker player is about more than just mastering the skills of this great game and it takes a very special type of personality to be a really successful poker player. Excelling at poker requires an incredible amount of self-control and discipline as well as intelligence and tenacity.
Not every personality is suited and if you have fallen short of counting yourself among the best, take a look at the must-have qualities, without which even the most knowledgeable players are bound to fail:
- Emotional Self-Control:The need for emotional self-control is obvious, but the value and utter importance of this trait can never be overestimated. Players who convey their emotions, react openly and are legible like a book are always going to lose to players that can keep their emotions, negative and positive, under wraps. Practice your poker face. Body language can also be your worst enemy as many players find themselves conveying information involuntarily through their bodies. Little movements can be read and may give your opponent more deadly ammunition.
- Intelligence: The complexity of poker demands sharp intelligence, the ability to analyze, predict, remember and calculate all at the same time, while remaining focused on each move. Good poker players are also good at mathematics and even at calculating the laws of probability.
- Observational Skills: The ability to continually observe and read your opponent to the extent that you can predict her/his moves and have a pretty good idea of what kind of hand she/he has, will go a long way toward turning you from a good player into a great player.
- Ability to Read Opposing Players: More experienced players can read novices like open books. They know giveaways a mile off and can, within a short space of time, identify their opponents playing approach, losing and winning face, strategy and game plan. It can take many years to reach such an advanced stage, but those who persevere and do, reap incredible rewards.
- Strong Instinct: A strong instinct and willingness to listen to one’s gut feeling can only be acquired over time. The confidence to trust your instinct will develop over time and will prove a valuable asset.
- Courage and Risk Assessment: Poker players must possess the ability to assess at what points in the game risks are worth taking and when they’d better hold back. Again, this skill is learned over a prolonged period of time and more than likely involves quite some risk taking disasters.
- Self-Discipline: Much like controlling your emotions, you must possess the discipline to reign in enthusiasm as well as a lack thereof, learn when to be aggressive, passive, tight or loose
- Focus and Concentration: Poker demands utter focus and concentration and a lot of mental power to maintain such a high level of attention.
- Cool Under Pressure: Teach yourself not to get sweaty palms when under pressure, learn how to breathe calmly when the stacks are against you. Never let anyone know that you are stressed.
- Patience: Great players have the ability to be patient and persevere through adversity, even when the odds are bad. They have learnt how to weather storms and how to emerge the far side of a tornado unharmed.
- Self-Belief: Confident players fare better, and and a strong self-belief can be intimidating to other players which will always put you at an advantage.
- Social Skills:Though you may not be having lengthy discussions during a game, the ability to converse and communicate with your opponents throughout and after a game will make you a better player. Your willingness to take advice and learn will also improve your game.
- Ambition and Tenacity: Most great professionals are very ambitious and display incredible tenacity. Only those who soldier on in the face of losses will succeed in the long run, as the old saying goes, “the cream rises to the top”.
If you work on the above traits and practice the application thereof, your skills will be much improved and your poker player persona will grow and grow. Practice and experience will contribute greatly to your ability to relax and enjoy your game while remaining sharply focused on the task of winning.