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15 Traits and Skills of Great Poker Players! (Road to WSOP…)

Last Updated on January 7, 2024 by Gamesver Team and JC Franco

World Series of Poker entrance
Jason Ogulnik /

While there are some people that have won a game or two of poker just out of sheer luck, it is a rare thing to happen. In order to win, and keep winning at poker, players have to learn the rules and work on their strategy. Poker requires players to be disciplined, but also perceptive.

When you compare some of the world’s best poker players, you might notice that they have all or at least most of these below-mentioned traits in common. These traits and skills are what make a poker player confident, respected, and in many instances, rich. It goes without saying that becoming the best poker player can take years of hard work, but if you want to get a head start, you might want to know what is needed to improve your poker game.

How do these specific traits and skills make a poker player great? That is a question that I sought out to answer for those just getting into the game of poker or wanting to improve on their game. So, do you have what it takes to be one of the best poker players around? Let’s find out if you have what it’s needed to be a pro poker player …

Poker Aces pair

These are 15 traits and skills of great poker players:

1. Discipline.

Discipline is a vital trait of any successful poker player. You might wonder how discipline can help a poker player at all, but it really can. 

A poker player who is disciplined does not just play each hand recklessly. Disciplined players learn from their mistakes and quit playing when it is the right time. A disciplined player recognizes when to play and when to stop. An undisciplined poker player will just keep playing until he is broke. 

2. Experience.

Great poker players all happen to have some experience under their belts. They know all the poker terms, tricks, rules, and types of play. They will come across as experts in the game because that is, precisely, what they are. If you follow the careers of some of the greats, you will notice that they do not just play poker on weekends, but actually put in thousands of hours at the table. 

But, what if you do not have time to head down to the casino every evening to earn yourself the experience? Online poker can provide an experience that is just as useful to you.

3. Strategic thinking.

Poker is a game that includes quite a bit of strategy, making strategic thinking a major requirement for a poker player. Players who cannot think strategically and switch gears as required will find that they become predictable and easy to beat. Great poker players give the impression that their next move can (or can’t) be predicted, and this allows for a strategic approach.

The thinking man sculpture
RendErtan /

4. Good judgment.

Having good judgment is one of the most essential skills to have when playing poker. Without good judgment, it would be impossible to play a hand confidently. Poor judgment will merely lead to losses and disappointment, time, and again. Great poker players can judge the situation at play and make a call on the expected next move of the opponent. They also have to be able to correctly judge their own skills in order to avoid reckless play. 

5. Money management skills.

Playing poker recklessly with winnings will only end in substantial losses, and that’s why people with poor money management skills are not well-suited to poker playing. Most great poker players display good money management skills. In the world of poker, this is often called “bank roll management”. 

Handling your money effectively to ensure that you always have a healthy cash flow is important. Also, if you are making good wins on one day, don’t suddenly increase your stakes or behave out of character. Great poker players always know how to play within their means and never put themselves at serious financial risk. 

6. Perceptiveness (be able to read others).

Being perceptive is not something that everyone is born with, but what most poker players have in common. 

Most people are not aware of just how much perception is used in poker. Great poker players know how to read and perceive other poker players. If they can’t, they will not be able to pick up on players’ tells. By being perceptive, players can determine what the opponent’s next move is or read their body language and act accordingly.

7. Focus and concentration.

oncentrated mixed race woman wearing glasses

Poker players that get easily distracted will not make it very far in the game. A good poker player is always present in the game and focusing on what’s important: their next move. 

There is undoubtedly a wealth of distractions readily available, and the best poker players have learned to have unwavering focus and concentration on the action of the game. Even if the player is card dead at the table, they focus on watching and learning from (and about) the other players.

8. Adaptability.

Great pokers know how to adapt to their surroundings and to the people around them, quickly and seamlessly. If a player is awkward and out of place, it will be hard to play the game and win. 

The ability to adapt quickly enables players to easily size up opponents, assess the situation, and think creatively and strategically based on the new information gleaned. If you are unable to adapt, you might find yourself struggling to make quick decisions that are good for your game. 

9. Self-control.

Poker requires players to have self-control. If you have emotional outbursts when you lose a round or start to fidget when you are feeling nervous or frustrated, you are going to become predictable and may even lose control. 

Having self-control also helps you to know when to stop and walk away and when to stay in the game without putting yourself at significant financial risk. All great poker players have excellent self-control, and that is something that can be developed with repetitive practice. 

10. Confidence.

businessman thinking poker

Confidence is vital when playing poker. The greatest players play each hand without hesitation. Hesitation shows that a player isn’t sure which can be detrimental to the outcome of the game. With a confident approach, you will be harder to read, which means you will be harder to beat. If you learn the rules of the game and become familiar with every possibility within it, your confidence levels should improve over time. Keep practicing. 

11. Quick learning.

Poker players need to have a sound knowledge of the game of poker, but that is not all. They also need to have the ability to learn from their own mistakes and learn from their opponents. The more you observe and take note, the better your chances are of winning every game in the future. 

12. Patience.

Poker players need to have immense patience. It could take hours to complete a game, and often there is not much for some players to do but watch and wait. Great poker players have patience as one of the top traits and for a good reason; without it, they would probably get bored

13. Social skills.

Poker is a social game. Players invite other players for poker evenings, and even in high stake games, opponents are friendly and sociable. Having the ability to be social with other players will stand you in good stead. And it is also something that all good poker players have in common. 

14. Time management skills.

This is an important one; a good poker player can manage his time effectively without getting caught up in excitement. All great pokers know how to prioritize the right things in their lives. They do not just nip into the casino for a few minutes in between tasks. They set aside the correct amount of time and ensure that when their time is up, they walk away and complete other chores and tasks on their list for the day. 

15. Balanced mindset. 

Pyramid of pebbles on the beach

Having balance and a balanced mindset is quite important when playing poker, especially as a career or on a professional level. Many people get so caught up in the game that they start playing it obsessively while neglecting other areas of their lives. 

Great poker players know how to compartmentalize their poker playing from the rest of their lives. They don’t put their families and loved ones on the back burner so that they can follow a love affair with poker. If you want to be a top poker player, be prepared to have a balanced mindset and approach to it.

Last word

Many people are not aware that there are good and bad traits of poker players. In order to succeed at the game, be prepared to implement some of the more positive traits into your life. 

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This article was co-authored by our team of in-house and freelance writers, and reviewed by our editors, who enjoy sharing their knowledge about their favorite games with others!

JC Franco
Editor | + posts

JC Franco serves as a New York-based editor for Gamesver. His interest for board games centers around chess, a pursuit he began in elementary school at the age of 9. Holding a Bachelor’s degree in Business from Mercyhurst University, JC brings a blend of business acumen and creative insight to his role. Beyond his editorial endeavors, he is a certified USPTA professional, imparting his knowledge in tennis to enthusiasts across the New York City Metropolitan area.