To play poker well and win often, every poker player needs a set of skills beyond the knowledge of the game. These skills give them the edge over the house and the other players, help them know when to call and when to fold, and allow them to bring in more wins. Just knowing the rules of your favorite game of poker is not enough. Fortunately, these skills can be learned and no poker player has to come by them naturally to win.
An Advanced Understanding of Mathematics
You need to know more then your basic adding and subtracting to become a professional poker player. The best poker players have a deep understanding of probability. Probability is a huge factor in winning poker hands. A good poker player can look at a game and know the probability of winning each hand with their cards.
Knowledge of Psychology
You do not have to be a psychologist to play a game of poker like a professional, but a deeper understanding in to the minds of your fellow players will help you win more rounds. Experienced poker players not only consider themselves, but the other players at the table as well. A player should always try to think like the other player is thinking. This will help a player determine who is bluffing, as well as help them read the other players and know when they are holding a good hand (also known as a tell.)
The Ability to Weigh Risk vs. Reward
The easiest way to tell an amateur poker player is their inability to weigh the risks against the rewards. More often the not, new poker players will go after every hand or fold too frequently. This error is caused by not taking the time to weigh your risks and rewards. An experienced poker player will consider the risk of every hand, and fold if the risk is too high. They will also know when the reward is worth it and ignore the risks associated with the hand.
With practice and dedication, it is not hard to develop these skills. Mathematics can be learned easily by taking courses or in private study. Developing a knowledge of other player’s mindsets can be learned through practice at the table. Weighing the risks and rewards in each hand can also be learned at the table or by practicing at home.