What are the Key Skills for Poker Success?

Poker has come a long way in the past 20 years. No longer a game played mainly in smoke-filled casino back rooms or in your friend’s lounge, poker is now accessible to almost everyone, who can play from wherever they are in the world, whenever they want. The best poker players in the world are now genuine celebrities, earning millions through tournament winnings, online play and endorsements – and the quest to become a professional player is now tougher than ever thanks to the popularity of the game as well as the abundance of strategy guides and resources out there.

For the majority of us, poker is merely a hobby, albeit one that is much more enjoyable if you know what you’re doing. So let’s take a look at some of the skills that anyone looking to succeed when playing poker needs to have.

Financial Discipline: Discipline is important in many ways when it comes to poker. Perhaps at the very top of the list is self-restraint when it comes to your money. From putting together a budget to knowing how much you have to play poker with, there are some very useful bankroll management articles online to help you stay within your financial boundaries.

Once you’ve assessed your incoming and outgoings, you’ll know how much you have left, and how much of that “nest egg”, as the 888poker article calls it, can be used for poker. When it comes to money, disciplined thinking can often go out of the window, so it’s critical that players know exactly how much they have to work with and when they definitely need to walk away, and having a strong grip over your finances will make this limit crystal clear.

Strategic Thinking: There will be countless times during a game of poker when the art of quick and strategical thinking will be essential. Whether it’s knowing the odds of landing a straight on the river to being able to plan what move to make in that eventuality, having a strategic mindset drastically increases chances of success.

While being able to calculate all the eventualities every player has in your head might be a little ambitious, good players will be able to know whether or not the odds stack in their favor or not. Before beginning your poker journey, putting in a decent amount of time in learning the basic math involved in poker will ensure you enter a game with all the tools to succeed. Look into game theory as well, as it will give you some insight into your opponent’s mentality – this course from Yale University will give you the basics for free.

Psychology: While it’s unlikely you’ll be playing poker with a who’s who of international bad guys like James Bond did in Casino Royale, playing poker will introduce you to some fascinating characters, all of whom will be trying to read your mind. There might be little room for sympathy around the poker table, empathy is an emotion you really want to be focusing on.

Knowing how your opponent is feeling, what they are thinking and where they are planning on taking a hand will all be hugely valuable when it comes to trying to outwit and beat them. While some have a natural talent for this, the majority of us have to work on it. Rather than solely focusing on what you’re doing during a game of poker, take notice of how your opponents play; are they risk-averse or aggressive. Unless you’re taking on an elite player, you’ll be able to pick up tendencies and themes which will give you the advantage.