Wondering what makes professional poker players great is a good start to get to join them. But this is not an overnight thing. It takes years and a lot of practice. Wins and losses both build a pro player up.
Poker is a game of luck? Professional players disagree with that concept. Popular grinders have been living comfortably with their winnings while regular ones still manage enough winnings to sustain their career.
Reading other players, forming winning strategy, and other factors that define professional poker players in this article can show you what it takes to follow in their footsteps.
Years of Experience
Professionals have played out different hands with various bets for many years, allowing them to read into a player’s hand through behavior and betting pattern as if it’s second nature for them. Playing for actual money against actual people also helps pros know what strategies work in a real setting.
Physical casinos and cardrooms are ideal places to get experience in playing the game. On the other hand, online poker sites are still a good place to gain insight on average betting strategies since actual money is involved.
Depth of Poker Math Knowledge
During every game, pro players have percentages and numbers going through their minds than college students cramming for the finals. Pro players take into account all data available to them such as the community cards, undealt cards, and their hole.
Every data point is converted into useful odds, outs, EV, pot odds, implied odds, and other info that gives them the edge over other opponents. While others are simply hoping for anhand, professional poker players have the odds on whether their hole will win the pot.
Lots of Practice
Professionals often participate in cash games, high stakes, low stakes, stt, mtt, and other games to get as much firsthand experience as possible. Even online poker sites are profitable places to practice new strategies or play against unfamiliar tactics.
Playing against actual opponents regularly help professionals improve their analytical skills and computation speed, allowing them to make informative decisions within seconds. Competing against numerous hands also allows professionals to find strategies that work on specific occasions.
Passion for Learning
When a new book about the latest poker strategies comes out, professional players tend to be the first in line to get a copy. Professionals are never satisfied with their skills and are always looking to improve themselves.
Pros aim to improve themselves to avoid getting caught by surprise when a player tries a new betting method or found a way to get accurate odds. In the digital age, professionals can find troves of poker resources for the latest strategies and guides such as e-books and online videos.
Lost Many Times and Know Why
Everyone makes mistakes when the pressure is on, including professional poker players during the last table of a multi-table tournament. Unlike regular players who take the loss at heart, they take the loss as a learning experience.
When a villain did not fold during that buy or an aggressive player folded on the river after a slow play, professionals think about how they can avoid these mistakes in the future. Pro players tend to enter any new poker tournament with a sharpened wit to do better than before.
Emotional Self Control
Frustrations can lead to a full-tilt where a player keeps making risky large bets just to recover their loss, only to bleed and lose their entire bankroll.
Professional poker players practice self-control as much as possible. Folding with a made hand against an opponent with nothing but air? Getting a bad beat when half of a pro’s chip stack is in the pot? Just keep cool and move on. Recovering from a mistake comes from keeping all emotions in check while making smart and concrete decisions.
Mental health is a key factor among professional poker players who rely on cold calculations and risk-vs-reward decisions in each betting round. Achieving a positive mental state comes from having a positive lifestyle such as getting enough sleep, eating the right foods, and putting time for some physical activity.
Time management allows professional poker players to achieve a good balance between their poker career and their lifestyle. With every participation of WSOP tournaments and cash games, they also give an equal amount of time for themselves and their loved ones.
Pro Poker Players Win Often
A long and successful career in poker comes from consistent small wins apart from major ones. Many of these wins come from multi-table tournaments with incredibly large prize pools. Professional players do not need to pressure themselves in beating every participant. They just need to beat enough to qualify for a sizable chunk of the prize pool.
Other alternatives also include playing in cash games where they can catch new players with their guards down to supplement their income.
Bankroll Management Skills
Regular poker players gamble with their money while professional poker players handle it like a business owner. Bankroll management is a general trait among pro players, allowing them to know the right amount of money to risk in every poker game.
Managing money also means budgeting for daily and monthly needs such as groceries, bill payments, and much more. Long-running professional poker players also have an emergency fund set for periods when their losses are higher than their win rates.
Exploit Weaker Players
In many card rooms across casinos and online gaming sites, you can find weak players who tend to drop $1,000 on ahole with a flop of . Professionals have no problem applying all of their skills to take advantage of any inexperienced players.
No-limit games are the best place to find people with a happy-go-lucky attitude on their bankroll. The lack of maximum betting capacity allows professional poker players to get the most out of their targeted prey for all their worth.
Confidence In Their Decisions
Second-guessing can lead to missed opportunities and getting caught in a disastrous bluff that can devastate a player’s chip stack. Professional poker players remove any doubts about their decisions by making sure they have enough information.
To get enough data on their opponents, professionals take advantage of the low blinds during the early betting periods. With a low stake, pros can see how the people around the table react to large bets or with various community cards. With the combination of odds equation, professionals can make informed decisions to consistently take the pot.
Poker is still a game of luck and there will come a time when professional poker players will experience a long downswing in their career. Variance is a career killer for fans of the game attempting to be professional players since they cannot handle the depression and financial turmoil.
Long-running pro players are always ready for periods of drought by having enough savings made with efficient bankroll management to cover months of expenses. Pros also have emotional support or are mentally ready for a string of bad beats coming their way.
Regular players believe one strategy is all they need to win every game, which only makes them easy to anticipate throughout the game.
On the contrary, professional poker players have a drawer in their minds full of different tactics and patterns to address various situations. With a slew of different strategies at their command, pros can take advantage of any situation based on the current odds, the player tells, and bets made.
Full of Surprises
In every game, professional poker players make sure they have the element of surprise against their opponents. Keeping everyone around the table on their toes and second-guessing every bet can leave them open to bluffs or value bets.
Tagging, slow playing, and the occasional donk bet can make any professional poker player unpredictable and unreadable. Pro players can also perform fake tells such as cheek scratching or handshaking to trick players into believing they have a strong or weak hand.
Diversification in Poker
Major poker tournaments are just a part of a professional player’s regime since there are places where the money flows. Pros will participate in regular sit & go and cash game tables in various casinos or card rooms. Online tables are also full of opportunities for profit among the pros and the top-ranking players.
Playing in different poker games can also expose professionals to different kinds of players who do not participate in large tournaments. A diverse regime also allows pros to avoid a streak of bad luck during certain seasons.
Success in a professional poker player career comes from mental and financial preparedness for any scenarios. With the will to improve oneself and keeping a healthy lifestyle, you can also enjoy a long poker career.
This article was published on November 25, 2020, and last updated on February 7, 2021.