Patience -- the Poker Player's #1 Skill

All About Poker

When I say patience is a poker player's number one skill, I don't mean just the ability to wait for a good hand before entering a pot-- though that is a very important part of it and what most people mean when they talk about patience at the poker table. No, a poker player must be patient in all aspects of their game, from table selection to hand selection, from managing their bankroll to maintaining their mental focus.

Here's what patience is to me:

Patience is waiting and waiting for a premium hand -- and then throwing it away when there's three raises in front of you and you know you're facing hands even more premium than yours.

Patience is not sitting down at a tough table while waiting for a seat at the good game to open up.

Patience is not moving up in levels until your bankroll is big enough to handle the swings.

Patience is handling those swings coolly and calmly until they turn around and skill once again gets the upper hand over luck.

Patience is listening to bad players expound for hours on how well they play and how poorly you play and not correcting them.

Patience is watching the donkey stack up chips as high as their head and not getting out of line going after their ill-gotten gains.

Patience is letting the bad players hang themselves rather than trying to force feed them the rope.

Patience is taking the time to study and actually learn a new game before playing it for the first time.

Patience is grinding out low level wins rather than blowing your bankroll taking shots at games too big for you.

Patience is taking the time to learn as much as you can -- from books, players, coaches, videos, and anything else you can get your hands on -- before sitting down to play.

Patience is letting go of hand after hand after hand when the pots are small so you still have enough money left to make a big pot that you are going to win.

Patience is waiting for the right opportunity to bluff, recognizing it when it's there, and pulling the trigger.

Patience is not bluffing the calling stations, but rather waiting to pick up a hand that's worth value betting into them with.

Patience is throwing away marginal hands early in a tournament and waiting for the rising blinds to force you into any kind of untoward action.

Patience is letting your opponents reveal their tendencies, and then taking advantage of them.

Patience is talking to your opponents, and letting them explain -- usually in excruciating detail -- how they play their hands.

Patience is allowing the table dynamics to dictate your style of play, not trying to impose your own personal style on players it won't work against..

Patience is letting your opponents take the pots you can't stop them from winning -- and not letting it bother you.

Patience is waiting for the right game, at the right price, against the right players -- and then sitting down.

So that's it, just a few ways that patience is important in a winning poker player. If you ever finding yourself itching to get into a game, or frustrated by being card dead, just remember that patience is not just a virtue, in a card player, it's a means to profit.