Becoming a Great Poker Player

Continued from: Hold'em Hands: Tournament Example #3

Hopefully, the situations I laid out in the preceding Hold'em poker hand examples have given you some ideas as to the things you should be thinking about when you make your decisions at the table. I don't think you necessarily need to read the examples until you memorize them and play that way every single time. My intention is to start you in the direction of properly training your mind.

Great Poker Players

To be a great player you need to be able to think like a great player. That means you must think a few steps ahead, be able to learn your opponents, and use their playing styles against them.

Many of the books I've read have supplied concrete inflexible lists of poker hand requirements and odds charts. Good poker players don't just memorize starting hand tables and drawing odds; they learn to adapt to the exact situation at hand. It would be impossible to list every kind of hand and give an exactly correct answer to each one. In poker there are so many variables and so many things to consider in every single situation that one of the most important qualities of a good player is flexibility. One must be able to adapt creatively to every situation.

One "star quality" of a player is his ability to take in all the information that is presented to him - who plays tight, who's aggressive, who never bluffs, etc. - and then be able to use that information. There may be nine or ten different plays that make sense in a given situation. The better players will be the ones who are able to think outside the box and choose exactly the right move given all the information he or she has been able to assimilate.

I've heard many professional players say that they believe anyone who is willing to put in the study time and practice time is capable of becoming a professional poker player. There does seem to be a difference in opinion as to whether or not any person could become a world-class poker player. I think the bottom line is that there are certain "star qualities" in poker that you must possess in order to be world-class. The only question is whether or not these "star qualities" can be learned like any other set of skills or if they are talents that one simply has or doesn't have the capacity to acquire.

Personally, I'm not sure if everyone is capable of developing all of the skills. I will, however, list what I believe to be some of the most important of these qualities to point you in the right direction. Before I list what I think are the star qualities that separate the good players from the great, I want to share what is, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful things about poker. Poker is unlike other sports in that you don't have to be a world-class player in order to make a great deal of money at it. In fact, you don't even have to be that good. The beauty of poker is, in order to show an almost guaranteed profit, you don't have to be a super star; you just have to be better than the players that you're playing against.

That being said, in the next article I will describe what I believe to be the star qualities that we all should work toward, the ones that can take us from being good players to great poker players.

♣ Continued at: Star Qualities of Poker Players

♣ Back to the index of Dead Money's guide to hold'em strategy.