People always say pro poker players are amazing and they are likely to beat amateurs hands down every time. But what skills do pro players have that amateurs don't have? Pro players cant be that advanced.
What skills would an amateur need to develop before they become a pro poker player?
pretty much to quote the song, "you gotta know when to hold them, know when to fold them". it doesn't sound like its that big of a deal but knowing when to fold your cards is a BIG part of being succesful in poker. I've been playing poker (amateurly) for about 4 years now and still make stupid calls that really shouldnt have been made. Another skill they have is just knowing how to read people. Many people have "tells" that they do when they get the card they need. whether its move a certain way, or tap their finger.. people usually do these things involuntary.. but yeah, knowing when to fold is a big thing.. a good example would be having an ace high flush when theres a possibility for a full house on the table... someone who is fairly new would go all in with that hand but a pro would think about laying it down if he feels the other guy has a full house.
Experience! The more hands you have played, and analyzed, and learned from, the better you will play. A pro understands the odds for every hand, and knows how to "read" other-players.
One of the main differences is in continual hand evaluation for starting hands, after the flop, turn and river.
An amateur will look for reasons to play a hand, or to continue to play his hand.
A pro will look for reasons NOT to play the hand.
Like a prior poster noted, You have to know when to foldem, and know when to holdem.
Here is a link to a poker strategy page that provides information on some of the skills an amateur can develop to play a better game Texas Holdem Poker.
Good luck at the tables!
The difference is how much of their play each player leaves to chance and guess work. Poker pros are very experienced, know all of the odds and always know the relative strength of the hands they're dealt. An amateur either plays with less confidence or else a complete lack of self control, over-betting their hands. Pros are very disciplined.
Naturally, there will always be an element of luck to poker, but the difference between a Pro and your everyday Joe is that the professional minimized luck's effect on his hand by playing it in such a way that, statistically, he will profit in the long run.
In my opinion the single most important attribute is emotional control. I've played with some very good players who have lost all their money playing badly after getting a bad beat or played for more money than they can afford (2nd biggest skill, managing your money). Bad beats are why the bad players keep playing, hoping they can get lucky. If you're getting unlucky then you got your money in good, that's all you have control over. In the long run you'll win.
On managing your money (bankroll=money solely for poker), there are guidelines on how much of your bankroll you should put at risk on any one table. If you're relying on poker as your only source of income I would recommend you have 40x the buy-in of the table you're playing (e.g if you had £2000 for poker, play on tables where the buy-in is £50 or less). If you're a recreational player, having 20 buyins for the table should be fine, as long as you have the discipline to move down limits when necessary. This will minimise the risk of you losing all of your money.
Many players also quit when they're winning, to save losing it, and keep playing when they lose, to get it back. It should be the other way around. When you're playing well and winning, your opponents often play worse and you should play on. When you're losing it often affects your play and you'll lose more. Poker, especially if you play online, will still be there tomorrow and you'll be more likely to win when you're not trying to win money back.
Notice I haven't mentioned anything about actually playing yet. At the levels most of us on here would probably play you should just play basic, ABC poker. That is waiting for a good hand and betting it hard. Most players at low levels will often call you down regardless, so don't try bluffing or using advanced techniques against them. They'll be oblivious to the fact that they "should" fold and you'll lose.
As you move up in levels the game becomes more like psychological warfare. The top pro's think on "levels". Such as: "I think he has XX, but he knows I think he has XX, so therefore I should play as if I have XX" and so on. After a while it becomes less about the cards and more about playing the player.
Another answer was dead on that the best way to improve is to play a ton of hands. After a while you'll know what to do in a lot of situations without having to really think about it.
To finish, becoming a pro certainly isn't for everyone. What other job could you work loooooooong hours, do your job perfectly, and have less money than when you started?! I'm taking a shot at doing it myself now, and while it certainly beats a lot of jobs I've had, the swings I've experienced in a relatively short time can really get to you. I'm not sure if it's really for me yet, but I'm gonna give it a go.
Good luck at the tables everyone!
Sunglasses and a $40,000 pickup truck.
Honestly, as much as people say there is, it doesn't make it so, there's very little skill or strategy in poker.
Cross your fingers for good cards.
If you've got a bad hand, don't bet on it.
Make everyone think you've got a better hand than you really do with your betting strategy.
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Quote: "Pro players cant be that advanced."
That cannot be any farther then the truth. Pro players have played hundred of thousands of hands, have done endless studying, and learned the odds of poker in and out.
What does an amateur player need? Work. Lots and lots of work.
Pro players define themselves by knowing what to do in every situation. They can play the player instead of the cards, and that's the number one thing that separates the amateur and a pro. I'll put this in caps so you can see it.
THEY PLAY THE PLAYERS INSTEAD OF PLAYING THE CARDS!!!
Amateur players will almost always depend on having the best hand in order to win, and that's just not always necessary. Knowing when your opponent is weak, knowing when they'll fold and how much will make them fold is prime to getting to the final table. You do not have to have the best hand to be the winner in any pot, you just have to be the only player. A pro will be able to tell, just by your eyes, body language or movements, even the way you bet your chips, how strong or weak your hand really is. They know these tells, and do their best to avoid doing the same themselves, and even sometimes, they'll give you false tells to lure you into making a fold or call when you really shouldn't.
Experience is a cop out answer, but they do have it. They've seen it all, from Royal Flushes to getting felted. The more you play, the better your game becomes. Poker is a learning game, and every time you play, it will be a different experience, so learn from it.
Learning and memorizing the odds is another way the pros have an advantage over the average Joe. Situations will warrant a call sometimes and the same situation in a different hand might call for a fold. Knowing when the bets ahead of you warrant a call or a fold will improve your chances of staying alive in the longrun.
To summarize this up, the best thing an amateur can to do improve their poker skills is to learn, learn, learn. Poker is a tough game, and it is by far the game that takes the most skill to learn, but a lifetime to master... or was that Othello? Eh, anyway, just keep on looking for new things, study the things that you have and apply them to the table. The more you have in your poker knowledge arsenal, the better chance you have to beating the best.