7 characteristics of a successful poker player

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In today’s article we will talk about the most important components of every successful poker player. The components, the lack of which in most cases means sub-optimal play and, consequently, loss of EV. Working tirelessly on yourself and following these rules makes a difference in the outcome of your game in the long run.

1. Control Your Emotions

The ability to take control of yourself, to be in total control of your emotions, is one of the golden rules, not only for your future success at the poker table, but in all areas of your life. Guided by this rule, a person, like a program, will always make the most balanced and mathematically sound decisions in any conditions.

A huge number of players, falling into prolonged downswings, lose their sobriety and allow negative emotions to take over. As a consequence, this is followed by mathematically incorrect decisions and loss of bankroll. You must never forget that poker, as a game based on mathematics and probability theory, can lead to any results in the short term. And therefore, you, as well as winning successful players, must always keep this in mind and adjust your mental approach to the game.

In addition to mental toughness, I want to advise you on a few ways to prevent tilt:

  • Hiding your game balance will allow you to detach yourself from short-term results and focus on playing optimally in a given situation;
  • Arranging the tables in a stack (thanks to this you won’t be aware of the presence and number of negative results of short-range exposures).
  • Thus, a cool head and control of your own emotions are essential to play optimally in the long run.

2. Remember bankroll management

The next vital element of gambling is knowing how to conduct your bankroll correctly.

Regardless of your level or your current limit, there are a couple of simple rules you need to follow:

  • The size of your bankroll in relation to your working stack should be as large as possible, which, in case of prolonged downswings, insures against having to go down the limits;
  • Having the necessary amount in your account, equal to the size of your bankroll, to replenish it. When playing NL100 with a $3,000 bankroll it is advisable to have the same amount in your account. Adding funds to your account up to the necessary amount allows you not to change the game limit and reduces the time for recovery of lost funds;
  • In case poker is your only source of income, it is vital to have a financial “safety cushion”. This money should be enough for at least six months of your life. Lingering downswings should not put pressure on your life off the tables;
  • And, as a corollary of the previous points, it’s important to go down the playing limits when necessary.
  • As you can see, proper bankroll management not only determines the results of your game, but also your life away from the tables.

3: Play the games you have an edge on.

Playing at the right tables is important. It is crucial to look for a field with weak players, which allows you to exploit their weaknesses and shortcomings. There is no point in playing against equal or stronger opponents. The inability to find weak players and exploit their countenances turns your possible profit into zero or negative.

Like all successful players, look for tables with the opponents you want. Remember that every mistake they make will increase your bankroll.

4. Know how to take a break.

You should constantly evaluate your own condition and play. In poker literature, you may encounter such a notion as “soft” tilt. Its components are not so bright and noticeable, but have a great influence on the quality of your game.

The main component of the soft tilt is fatigue. The player loses concentration, the ability to take into account all game aspects and correctly interpret the opponent’s actions. For example, a player of the 4th thinking level can slip down to the 3rd thinking level or remain at the same level, but lose the quality of his assumptions about his opponents’ play.

Not to mention the importance of a sober assessment of your own abilities in the game at a large number of tables. Fatigue, irritation and other similar factors do not allow the necessary time for a qualitative analysis of each hand. In this case, you should reduce the number of tables you play. Yes, this will lead to a decrease in the playing volume, but it will allow you to keep the quality at the necessary level.

Always remember the importance of a healthy diet and physical activity. On this topic, I suggest reading the book “Light Yourself Up” by John Ratey and Erich Hagerman.

If you have any negative emotions or physical fatigue, be sure to take a break. Get some rest. Do something else. Then, with renewed vigor, return to the table.

5. Have hobbies outside the tables

Don’t make poker the meaning of your life. Don’t put it at the center of your life. Never forget about other areas. Absolutely all successful players have some hobbies, hobbies, family. In case of a long negative variance, these factors will have a positive impact on your psychological state, give you joy and help you fight tilt. If poker is your only source of income, it shouldn’t rule your life and be your only goal. Harmonize all aspects, play poker and be happy.

6. Don’t forget about learning

The trend is that earning poker becomes more and more difficult over time. You need to devote enough time not only to the game itself, but also to learning. In addition to books, WODs, articles, and videos, don’t forget to work on your own hands. Remember the importance of using specialized software. Enroll in special courses, hire a trainer, invest in training. In the long run, all this will lead to the growth of your skills, a better understanding of the game.

7. Love Poker

As in all walks of life, loving and respecting your work means a lot. The joy of the game itself, the enjoyment of poker has a positive effect on your emotional state, helping you to fight tilt and survive downswings without loss. Don’t turn the game into a gray life routine, a necessity.

It is also quite normal to encounter fatigue from the game, apathy. This is a natural process for all people in absolutely any sphere. Time and additional hobbies, family, friends and so on can help you cope with it.

Love poker, enjoy the process itself. After all, it’s the pledge and foundation for everything else.

Of course, even the most fanatical poker fans will face burnout at some point, and this is completely natural. That’s why it’s so important to have balance in your life! Ask yourself, would you play poker if you only had the opportunity to play for fun? If the answer is yes, then you already have a lot going for you to succeed!


We’ve taken you through the most important components of any successful player. Work on yourself, improve, and develop the qualities and skills listed in the article. All of these things together will pay dividends in the future and make you competitive in the game.

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