Poker Tips: Traits of a Winning Poker Player

Regular readers of know that we do not only provide you with the latest mobile poker news, but do also try to help you become a better poker player. In todays poker tip, wie tell you about the traits you need in order to become a winning poker player. Certainly there is no magic, one-size fits-all formula that will make your average Joe or Jane into a champion poker player. Some folks are born with a natural gift for the game, while other people are so ill-suited for poker that they’ll never be consistent winners — no matter how hard and how long they work at it. But there are certain personal qualities that are common to all winning players, and these qualities can be cultivated and strengthened, even from the smallest seeds.


arm-wrestling-567950_1280An extreme will to win. All successful players possess this quality, and in a way, all of the other winning traits flow from this one. Because of this intense drive to win, great players are determined to find a way to cope with all of the nasty dreck — the bad beats, the losing streaks, the boredom, the fear, the intense emotional swings — that is part and parcel of the game of poker. Furthermore, players who possess this competitive drive will not compete in the game without an edge. They don’t play unless they feel that they have some advantage over their opponent(s), as the result of being more skilled, having better cards, being in a better position, having more information, or all of the above. In this sense, a big ego is a healthy poker trait, but winners never allow their egos to cloud their judgement or get in the way of having an advantage.

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Self-control. Without this quality, nobody can win at the game for long. You can’t win consistently without playing tight, and you cannot play tight without discipline. Of course immense self-control is required to keep folding hand after hand after hand when conditions are unfavorable, but it’s also vital for many other aspects of the game. It takes a great deal of discipline to not only study the game but to keep studying and learning everything you can about poker — for as long as you play. It takes tremendous discipline to keep watching your opponents in every hand, even after you’ve folded, rather than yielding to the natural desire to take a mental break and watch the TV monitors, chat with a neighbor, surf the net, or just plain daydream. And it takes iron-clad discipline to be able to walk away from the game in the middle of a bad losing streak.

A good understanding of people

Know thy enemy — that’s the key to besting your opponents. To beat the game at any level above the fish-crammed low limits, you must be able read the other players, to make good educated guesses about what cards they hold and why they are making that bet or raise. This requires a certain understanding of human nature, of how your fellow poker players think.


Brutal honesty. One of the greatest dangers for any poker player is to fall into the easy trap of rationalizing away your losses. Convincing yourself that it was somebody else’s fault. The need to protect the ego by placing the blame elsewhere is a very powerful human drive. Nobody ever wants to believe that we lost because we made a mistake. But there is simply no such thing as an infallible, mistake-free poker player, even at the highest levels. Winning players are able to admit their mistakes — and learn from them.

Mental toughness

This is needed to withstand the inevitable, brutal, spirit-crushing bad beats and losing streaks of poker. It’s easy to play well when you’re winning and the cards are all falling your way. But great players can still play their best game in the face of horrible bad luck. They don’t tilt, they don’t try to get revenge — they just keep making good decisions every time it’s their turn to act. Mentally tough players don’t get caught up in hating any of their opponents just because of a few bad beats; they never forget that it’s business, not personal. Another aspect of mental toughness is the ability to separate yourself emotionally from the money you are risking, to think of the chips as only chips, not real money. This is especially important in big-bet poker, where it takes a lot of nerve to put huge amounts of money into the pot when you don’t hold the nuts (which of course you usually won’t).


The ability to concentrate. Great players are constantly alert. By pushing away extraneous thoughts and narrowing their focus to the task at hand, these players can notice everything that is going on in the game — which player will bet aggressively with draws, who folds too often on the river, who sits back in their seat and pretends to lose interest in the hand when they hold the absolute nuts — and so on. Even the simplest poker game is teeming with this kind of information, and the best players try not to let anything slip by. Moreover, they can retain all this information far longer than the average person. In short, they have an excellent memory.

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Josh Miller Josh Miller

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