5 Traits of Highly Successful Players
As a backer, I have staked hundreds of players over the last 5 years. There have been some stellar players that have come through our stable and there are many traits that enabled them to succeed at the level that they did. This article is about the top 5 key traits (in no particular order) that I have seen in highly successful poker players (regardless of limits played). This article is mainly tailored towards online play, but can still apply to live players as well.
Although I said that these key traits are in no particular order, passion is the absolute #1 key trait on this list. As with most all self employed professions, one needs to have passion in his work in order to drive all other elements on this list. Every single successful player that I have staked has been extremely passionate about poker. Being a passionate poker player doesn’t necessarily mean that the player just enjoys playing- he enjoys every facet about studying the game, playing the game, and thinks about the game non stop. For this player, he’s not dreading the opportunity to study or do simulations on PIO solver- he relishes this time and enjoys it. He’s constantly thinking about the game and not looking at it as a means to an end, or solely a job.
The second trait that I have seen in all successful poker players is a strong work ethic. This doesn’t necessarily have to be mixed in the sense of playing a lot of hours vs. studying a lot of hours (oftentimes, the best combination is to do a lot of both). Many “full time” poker players have a general schedule of playing for 4 hours, reading some forums for 30 minutes, and calling it a day. Treating your poker career like a business and having a really strong work ethic is something that can overcome a lot of natural deficiencies (perhaps you aren’t as good at poker math or you struggle to understand some basic poker concepts). Strong players put in many hours, on and off the table.
Solid Mental Game
The mental game of poker is an underrated element in being a successful poker player. Poker is obviously a highly emotional game that requires a myriad of strong mental techniques in order to succeed. I have seen players who were better than 90% of their regular pool go on complete tilt and lose 10+ buy ins in a session, all while playing like the biggest fish at their limit. This is a massive killer to the bottom line. The technical elements/concepts of poker are difficult to master, but as with any piece of information, they can be mastered with enough practice and repetition. While the mental game of poker and learning to control your emotions and tilt levels also can be controlled (to a degree), it is oftentimes much harder than thinking about the poker strategy elements involved in playing.
The strongest players that I have seen have an iron mental game and can grind through downswings (many players shell up and do not play when they are running bad), tilt minimally, and can quit when they are not playing their A game.
Good Study Habits
The best players that I know study very hard at poker on a technical level. What does poker studying entail? It could be (but not limited to):
- Software simulations (PIO, Flopzilla, Cardrunners EV, Equilab, poker snowie, and many more).
- Talking hand histories and poker theories with friends.
- Posting on poker forums/discussion boards
- Watching poker videos and ACTIVELY watching, not just watching in the background. Taking notes, thinking about the concepts, and then discussing them with other people is essential when watching videos.
There are many other poker study techniques that players use. Playing poker alone (even massive volume) is not enough to excel in the games today. Many of the successful players that I worked with and talked to had multiple study groups and scheduled hours to do all of the above study techniques each week. Four hours of off the table work (a week) can mean the difference between a solid winner and a breakeven one. 1 hour of Focused, concentrated study can also be better than playing for several hours.
Balanced Lifestyle and Structure
Last but not least, many successful players have a balanced lifestyle outside of poker. While most of their working day is consumed by playing poker, studying, or doing other poker related activities, these players know how important it is to have a social life, hobbies, exercise and enjoy the fruits of their labor. Poker is an extremely lonely profession and getting more human interaction is vital for an overall balanced lifestyle.
Fore more on Poker Lifestyles, check out this article: http://orangepokerblog.com/2017/04/25/poker-lifestyle-tips/
In summary, there are many traits and habits that make successful poker players who they are. While each of these players has different routines and schedules, these 5 traits are almost always universal for most winning poker players.