10 characteristics of a successful poker player
In this section you’ll find a few tips to help you make it big in the poker world.
Forget duelling with the greats at a WPT final table, the best way to make real money is working out when to sit down and when to find another table. The lobby is the place to check first. Stats like average pot size and percentage of players seeing the flop are the ones to look out for.
Finding great games is all well and good, as long as you can afford them. Keep a record to work out your optimal playing routine, as well as tell you how much you're making (or losing) at the game on an hourly rate to give yourself the best chance of consistently collecting the wins.
When you’ve found the perfect game, the next thing on the list is the perfect hand. Well, it doesn’t have to be completely perfect. We’d suggest multi-tabling. Rather than getting bored and playing every hand in one game, why not play four at once and wait for premium hands to come along?
Good things thing come to those who wait at the poker table. Wait for premium hands and players will be more cautious of tangling with you. After all, if you’re in a pot, you’ve probably got a good reason to be there, right? Then it's time to be brave. Continue your aggressive approach if you make nothing on the flop or miss a draw, particularly at no-limit or pot-limit. Chances are, your opponents will have nothing either, or give you credit for something strong and lay their cards down.
Mix it up
Tight/aggressive play brings home the money more often than not, but if you stick to one style all the time then even your worst opponents will start to read you and you’ll lose your edge. Adding some variety will confuse your opponents and keep them guessing. Here’s how to do it:
- Cash games
Play a wider quality or variety of hands and bluff more to steal some extra pots. Or if you’re a loose-aggressive player why not slow down to catch people off guard when you get a big hand.
Varying your style here is more dependent on stack size and what point of the game you're at. For example, with a big stack you can open up and bully the opposition, but with a short one you must look for a good hand to go all-in with.
The important thing to remember is that you always have options. And the more you use them the less predictable and therefore harder to beat you become.
All great winners in life have this but it’s especially needed in poker. Whether it’s pulling off a great bluff or seizing victory from the jaws of defeat, heart can carry you over the line. Sometimes, and it’s only sometimes, great cards aren’t enough.
Know your numbers
Having a good working knowledge of the maths that underpin the game will be a huge help to you at the tables. You’ll be able to understand and estimate very precisely whether certain actions are likely to be profitable or cost you. So dust off the textbooks and get back up to speed. It’ll be worth it we promise.
People watching pays off
Tells are key to poker and with experience you’ll soon be able to spot specific patterns. There are other factors to watch out for as well, such as which players are on tilt, intimidated or showing the traits of a bully. But if you keep your eyes and ears open picking up on all of this will soon be second nature to you and you'll be able to adjust your play fit the opposition as well as the situation.
Leave your ego at the door
How you’re playing can often have a big effect on the way you think about your game or feel about yourself and the other players. But it shouldn't. Focus on the game in question and the long term rather than how your luck is running. This sort of outlook will put you ahead of many players who already call themselves professionals.