Professional poker players hate to be called “professional gamblers” because it’s not a valid title for them. Why? – Because for good poker players, poker is not a game of luck. For good poker players, poker is a game of a lot of things, like focus, discipline, intelligence, psychology, math, patience – the list goes on, but one thing is for sure and it is the fact that luck is not one of the words on the poker table.
While it is true that good poker players can win with luck on their side, you can also lose with luck on your side, and even come out on the losing side while playing for real money. So, is poker a game of luck? – It’s partly true, but in poker you have to be able to handle yourself being lucky or not, and sometimes even being not-so-lucky.
For example, if I’m playing a tournament and have 50,000 chips on the line, and I’m holding pocket aces, the odds tell me I should raise my aces based on the odds. However, what if I’m holding pocket tens, and the flop is say A-J-10, and my opponent has cut-off their aces and gone all-in? If I call, I increase my stack considerably, but if I re-raise, I know I’m risking it all on this one hand.
You cannot play every hand, and you cannot “guarantee” you’re going to win. If you did win with a lucky flop, well, that’s the luck part of poker, but the real strategy of poker is to play strong hands and aggressively bet when you have a good one.
This is called being aggressive, and while many players go to this example, it’s a strategy that works just as well in offline real-life poker, at the internet poker tables, or just about any other place that you can think of where gambling is concerned.
Are you a solid poker player? – Are you aggressive? Do you play lower pairs like pocket sixes and below? Or do you sit in the slowest two seats at the table? If I was sitting in the slowest seat at a table I’d do exactly the same thing.
Are you successful at your current level? – Consider making a move to higher level to learn, challenge yourself and make more money. This is called a education or a promotion, and all three have to be accomplished in order to move up a level. Even the best online poker players didn’t manage to move up to the big stakes games overnight. They have to build their skills and get used to competitive play.
Is money the motivating factor? – For many, losing the money is the motivating factor. Money is motivating because it’s a source of motivation. If you don’t have money, nothing else matters. If you win a lot of money, that attracts a lot of attention. You can do anything to get that kind of attention and nothing comes close to the attention that you can get with money.
The three aspects to becoming a professional poker player are the mental, physical and financial aspects of the game. Improve one of them and you’ll improve your poker game. Improve all three of the above and you’ll make it big at poker.