3 Things You Need to Master

Posted on May 29, 2009 by Gugel in General

There are three things you need to master to be a great poker player.  That’s right, just three things.

How to Be a Good Poker Player

How to Be a Good Poker Player

If you master just one or two, you’ll probably be mediocre at best (probably still bad).  Some people have excellent emotional control, but bad hand reading skills.  Others have great strategy, but bad emotional control.  Identify your weakness and strengths.  Eliminate your weakness and build on your strengths.  That’s the way to become great.

Emotional Control
You have to prevent your emotions from getting in the way of rational decisions.  When you’re on tilt, you are simply not capable of making well-thought out decisions.  The logical part of your brain literally shuts off.  For some, emotional control means means setting a stop-loss.  Other avoid playing regulars and stick to bumhunting.

Hand Reading
Think deeply about what hands your opponent can have and what hands your opponent thinks you have.  Heads up is a great way to improve your hand reading abilities because it puts you in a lot of tough situations that really make you think.

Some players are naturally very good at making the most +EV decision.  Someone can be a bad hand reader, but have good strategy.  He might assign a bad hand range to an opponent, but his decisions are good for the hand range he puts the villain on.

So where are you weak?  Where are you strong?

Buy Hand Histories

The more you know about your competition, the more you can profitably exploit them.  You can buy hand histories to boost your Hold'em Manager or PokerTracker database and help you better reads on your opponents.

Site Price Coverage Website Quality Overall Rating
hand-histories.com $$$
hhdealer.com $
pokerhandscout.com $
PokerTableRatings.com $$
handhq.com $$

7 Responses to “3 Things You Need to Master”

  1. [...] That quote is from a book called Mind Gym that HokieGreg was raving about on Twitter yesterday.  A lot of players (myself included) put mental toughness on the backburner.  But recently, I’ve begun to realize how that’s a huge mistake.  Jack Nicklaus, one of the best golfers of all time, was famously quoted as saying that golf is 90% mental.  Is poker 90% mental?  Maybe not, but mental toughness is definitely a big factor that separates great poker players from mediocre ones. [...]

  2. [...] if I didn’t improve.  I messed up pretty bad, but we all make mistakes at the poker table. Winners learn from their mistakes. Losers [...]

  3. 10,000 Hours

    10. Aug, 2009

    [...] in May, I talked about the three things you need to master to become a great poker player.   But the key ingredient to greatness that I didn’t talk [...]

  4. [...] the system”.  Now ShoeMoney is a really smart dude, but poker isn’t something you master overnight.  Truth be told, I’d guess he was a [...]

  5. [...] an interesting post on the 2+2 psychology forums right now about how playing poker trains you to minimize your emotions. Emotions are the bane of poker players. We want to make rational and unbiased decisions at the [...]

  6. [...] all know that setting goals is an important first step towards success. In a previous post, I said: Don’t set goals for yourself that are out of your control.  Whether [...]

  7. Fubusama

    22. Jul, 2010

    I think your diagram speaks wonders. Nice post