What Makes a Successful Poker Player? Skills or Luck?

What does it take in order to win at poker? Is it enough if we just rely on luck or do we have to acquire knowledge and skills to build our bankroll? These are the questions I am going to try to answer and solve in this post.

1.    The outsiders’ opinion on poker

A majority of the general population solely believe that poker is a game of luck. They have a mystical image of poker portrayed as just another casino game. And they are right; they have no reason to think differently of a game that they are not familiar with and is housed in casinos.

Is poker a game of luck?

But in reality, this is definitely not what poker is about. There are multiple decisions to be made throughout the game, which at times can be easy or hard and all play an effect on our outcome. There is always a good, a bad and an even better decision that can be made and this is what determines the fate of our bankroll. On top of this, we must also consider the fact that when playing poker, we verse other opponents unlike other casino games where you verse the house (and we all know that the house always wins).

2.    The poker player, whose ego will not fit in their shoes

There are a lot of players out there that believe that if they win a game, it was all about their magnificent skills and if they lose, it was all about bad luck.
Obviously, these people are not wise or right. There are many situations within a game where you can put all your money into it without even seeing all the cards. In these cases,  we don’t have anything but luck left in our assault; we can only trust that our better cards hold up or our worse cards increase in value to come out on top. Looking at it from a different point of view, we can state that there is no player in our existence that always makes the right decisions. We all learn from our mistakes, that’s how we become better. Poker is a very complicated game and when we lose, instead of blaming bad luck, we should sit back and analyze the situation, considering what we could have done better.

In a nutshell, ego should never be taken to the poker tables. People who don’t follow this axiom will find in time themselves in greater trouble than they expected, only hurting their bankroll instead of increasing it.

3.    The realistic hobby player

This third category of people views poker in a more realistic way and comprehends the difference between a win caused by either luck or skill. Of course, they still tend to blame bad luck for their losses, but they are also aware there are better players out there and they justify their losses to them.

This is the first step to the optimal thought pattern to look at the game. The player starts to recognize the importance of skills, but tends to become uncertain after a longer period of downswings.

Poker is a game, where the learning process of the brain tends to be sticky and doesn’t work as it is supposed to. In other fields of life, our mind is set to situations, where a certain step is either followed by success or failure. Repetition is common too, where if the step is repeated, the same outcome will occur. This shows us, how we come to the thought process of knowing what to do and what not to do. In poker, however, it works out differently. In a lot of cases, we make the right call and still lose at the hand of bad luck. If this tends to happen on a regular basis, our thought pattern will be broken and confused, with our brain trying to modify the already perfect strategy.

Players without sufficient self-esteem in these situations will be left out to sway in the breeze.

4.    The Professional

Players belonging to this last category definintely think differently. They put the main emphasis and focus on skills, but also acknowledge the role of luck. They think, that in the short term, luck plays a major role, and this is why it is possible for a weaker player to beat the more experienced in just a couple of days or hours. In the long run, though, the importance of luck diminishes. The more hands played against weaker competitors, the greater the difference is to the outcome.

Professional players don’t even bother with the term luck, as for they know it cannot really be controlled. The only thing these players focus on is making the right decision for the stiuation that arises. If you feel like you have already reached this stage in your gameplay, you can rest assure you’re on the right path to a successful poker career.

It is important to know how to handle all our unlucky and sticky situations by looking at them as the most important part of increasing our poker knowledge.

Long Live Luck!

Luck is not a bad thing and to look at it like that is not the right way to go about it. If luck wouldn’t exist, poker would be just like tennis or chess, where it is almost always the better player who wins. A less experienced player would not even consider challenging a pro. And without these players chasing luck, the stronger players would need to turn against each other, which would be a greater challenge than just going fishing.

And old legend about knowledge and luck

This all happened back in the 1930s in Los Angeles. The cops collared the organizer of a high-stakes home poker event. This was not the man’s first offense, so he knew he was facing a jail sentence this time around. In his final exasperation he came up with a clever and surprising defense: He confessed before the jury that he wasn’t hurting the state’s gambling laws, because poker was not gambling, as for poker requires knowledge and skills.

After the trial,  the jury retreated to do some research on the issue. They divided into two groups and started playing poker. Half a day later, when it came to the decision on the verdict, 8 jury members declared poker was gambling, and 4 said it was the skills that counted. Because the verdict needed to be inanimous, they continued playing to get a one-sided result. After a few days of poker, the opinions didn’t change and they were stuck in the same situation.

After the trial, journalists approached members of the jury to ask them about the outcome of the game. It didn’t come as a surprise that there were 8 losers and 4 winners. The losers all stated the poker was nothing but gambling. None of them were willing to acknowledge they had been outplayed and without the right skills they didn’t stand a chance.