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Common Traits of Successful Poker Players

What do successful poker players have in common? This article will not teach you how to be the best poker player in the world. It will however look at common traits which are found across the best of the best.

This list looks at all types of players. This includes online professionals, live professionals, tournament specialists, cash specialists, and many others.

They are competitive

This one might seem obvious, but wanting to win is necessary to be a good poker player. Poker is a game of egos, and ensuring that you can control yours while still being a competitive person is very important.

Strong mathematical understanding

All competent poker players are very strong with numbers and equations. You don’t need to be a mathematical genius, but you need to be able to do quick calculations on the spot. Given how important this aspect of the game is, it’s possible to be a solid poker player simply playing a mathematical style of poker.


Patience is one if the most underrated skills in poker. Picking the right spots is key in beating your opponents. Successful poker players let their opponents make mistakes, and a very common mistake is not being patient.

Understanding variance

Variance is important to understand as it can impact the mental game of a poker player. A lack of understanding of variance means that a player is too results driven. When they win they think they are amazing, and when they lose they think they are terrible. The best players understand luck is a huge factor in the short-term, and should not be a deciding factor in determining success.

Game selection

The best poker players know how to scope out a game to play. They will not jump into any game (besides large tournaments). They also know when their current game is not good enough and will move to another table.

They are always learning

Gus Hansen once doubted that he was still on top of his game. He then went on a $20 million online downswing. The game is not what they make it, but what their opponents make it. You must adapt your style to counter their strategies, and this involved constantly studying the game.

Respecting the fish

The best players will never berate a player for a bad decision. They will analyze the situation and find a way to exploit it. This is also a great way to identify a player who maybe isn’t as good. If they don’t follow this trait, they are weak in certain areas.

Ability to quickly cool-down

Everyone tilts. Even the best players. The difference is that the best players will be able to cool-down much quicker and not let a bad beat get to them. During tilt it’s easy to lose money, and the best players will spend the least time in this mindset.

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