The Qualities of Top Poker Players
Juicy Stakes is an online poker room that, in our words and the words of many of our players, offers juicy poker in a comfortable online setting. It is true that online poker is quite different than poker at a land-based poker room where you can see your opponents directly.
Top Poker Players and the Qualities they Share
Since online poker is so different in many ways from land-based poker, the best poker players have to take the qualities and characteristics of a good poker player on land and adapt these qualities to the different milieu of online poker.
Some great poker players started out as online players. These players were able instinctively to adapt their poker play to the differences in an online setting. So, what are the characteristics of a top poker player and how can online players adapt these characteristics to online poker?
Here is a short list of qualities top poker players have. Keep in mind that to a large extent they are also the qualities of top surgeons, top salespeople, top executives, even top athletes. In other words, the qualities that lead to success as a poker player can and often do lead to success in other fields.
- Attention to detail.
- Controlled ego.
- Constantly learning new things from new experiences.
- Controlled emotions.
- Powerful understanding of the value of money.
- Ability to see poker as a craft and dedication to becoming excellent at that craft.
- Not afraid to take a chance or to make a mistake but also unwilling to take ridiculous chances.
- A deep understanding of the human condition, the animal condition, and the inanimate condition.
- Ability to make instantaneous changes in approach based on new and previous experience.
Well, that is certainly a lot to process! Let’s take a closer look.
Patience is the Head of the Hydra
In so many fields and pursuits, it takes a long time to develop what we can call excellence. Patience feeds all the other qualities. Patience is what we need to learn to control our ego. We need patience to learn to control our emotions.
Many people have to lose quite a lot of money before they see the intrinsic value in a single dollar, euro, or bitcoin. Top poker players learn early on the value of getting out of a pot even if they have sizable equity in the pot. That is the essence of learning the value of money.
Poker is a craft and an art form. In his great book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert Pirsig says that motorcycle maintenance is an art. He spends the better part of 400 pages explaining that odd conjecture. A really top poker player at any stakes level sees poker as an art form.
Patience is one of the qualities of an artist and should be one of the qualities of a motorcycle repairperson.
Learning about the human condition takes a long time. Learning about the animal condition takes even longer and learning about the condition of the physical world takes much longer. The patience we develop to learn these esoteric subjects makes us better poker players!
We Need to be in a Constant Learning Mode
One of the signs of a mediocre poker player is that his or her attention wanders. They may take a break in a hand to go to the bathroom or just to walk around. That’s okay if a player really has to do those things. But poker players who don’t see paying attention as a learning experience tend to take a lot more of these breaks than attentive players do.
Details are very hard to see and only by paying very close attention can we hope to see all of the details we need to know in order to be able to make the right decagons ten hands from now!
Take Nothing for Granted
In the modern world, so many young people take knowledge and experience for granted. Only 100 to 150 years ago, no one took knowledge and experience for granted. So, in order to be in a constant learning mode, really good players today have to be able to swim against the tide, so to speak, not in poker itself where a lot of players are trying to learn from every hand but in everyday life. Top poker players have a far smaller social media footprint than average people have. Top poker players watch less television and stream a lot less.
Controlling Ego and Emotion
Both ego and emotion have a place. The average poker hand is not one of those places. Ego gets in the way of real learning. Emotion gets in the way of calm decision making. When a poker player’s ego and emotions are both out of control, the player is not able to process information correctly, they make a lot of mistakes that cost money, and they often blame their opponents for their own losses.
A really good poker player not only doesn’t blame his or her opponents for a loss but doesn’t really blame themselves. They chalk a loss up to either bad luck, which often is the case, or to a learning experience. These players will be able to see a future situation for what it is because they learned from this one.
Why is Knowing about the Animal World Important?
Animals don’t have an ego to get in your way. They might be ferocious and dangerous. That is a good thing as long as you don’t put your head in the mouth of the tiger! A person who has pets and who either lives on a farm or has quick access to one can learn a lot about how animals react to such things as stress and discomfort.
A poker player who is in obvious discomfort from just sitting for so long or possibly from hemorrhoids can be exploited as he or she is likely to think less and less well on a hand, make the wrong decision, and lose a substantial sum to you! As much as we learn from observing people, we can learn a lot from observing animals.
If we can observe animals in the wild, we can gain some insights into the machinations during a poker game. Poker is in a way like the wild animal kingdom. Poker players are always out for blood. Poker players are always on the prowl for easy prey.
A clever animal finds a way to trick a beast into making the wrong decision. The same applies to poker!
Why is it Important to Have Knowledge of Inanimate Objects?
In a real sense, there are no inanimate objects; there are just objects that take a long time to change. A person who can watch the grass grow or “stand like a tree” for 30 minutes will be able to wait out an opposing poker player who will change in generally imperceptible ways but in ways that the really good player can detect and exploit.
Instantaneous Decisions are the Lifeblood of a Top Poker Player
It may seem like a player has taken a long time to make a decision. The long processing time is just processing time. The decision comes in an instant. Players who weigh and contemplate and weigh some more and question and weigh the hand some more come to mediocre decisions.
Strike while the kettle is hot applies to poker. Poker is a kind of war zone. The general in the field who can order his or her troops in a derring-do way can turn the tide of a battle. The famous bayonet charge in the battle of Gettysburg comes to mind.
Every poker hand is a kind of battle and while fighting with mortars from far may be sound tactics on one hand, making a charge with bayonets or all in bets may be the best course of action on other hands!
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