Skills Found in Winning Poker Players.

Age old traits were shown to be insignificant. The positives and the ugliness shared among the higher level poker community .

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Traits found helpful in becoming an above average card player.


  • A greater tolerance for all financial risk, (not limited  to gambling-specific financial risk.)
  • Realists. Are not swayed by art and beauty.  (They do not daydream much).
  • Being male was significantly and consistently related to poker skill. (This finding is still being researched as no direct link could be found  that would provide insight into this finding, nonetheless, the data shows this to be true at this time)
  • Social intelligence skills used in such activities as  opponent modeling, appear to contribute to the skill set of a successful poker player.

Traits found to be insignificant in players with advanced poker skills.

  • General intelligence seems a must, however, higher intelligence  (higher IQ and/or higher  test scores in various subjects) was found to have little or no impact on a poker player’s skill level or poker skill attainment.)
  • Ethnicity, educational level,marital status, citizenship,  and educational achievements  made no notable improvement  and did not stand between the skilled and leisurely player.
  • A higher than normal mathematical or quantitative ability. (Being a Math wiz) was not found to have any significant benefit regarding higher poker skills. Simple math skills will do.

Traits shared by higher skilled poker players.  

  • Better players have a high level of social information processing –  (The ability to accurately interpret the behavior and actions of others)
  • A better decision-making process leading to higher expected value— (basic knowledge of expected wins or losses on an individual bet)
  • Advanced  players are  predominantly young adult males.
  • They also consume higher rates of alcohol than other gambling populations.
  • A higher than normal short and long term memory capacity.
  • Experience – The top players were found to have several more years at the tables playing and learning the game that the unskilled.
  • Winning players show to be affected by gambling fallacies at lower levels than the losing players.  (Winners are more guided by statistical probabilities than their hunches, gut feelings, and other fuzzy thinking)
  • Problem gambling shows to be greater among skilled poker players. (The better players  have more gambling problems per person than do lesser skilled players).
  • The skilled poker player plays fewer hands and has a higher flop aggression than a recreational player.


Credit to the  Journal of Gambling Issues Issue 31, 2015  who conducted trials and published much more information that I could provide here. For research  

Credit to the Alberta Gambling Research Institute (AGRI) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).


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Also published on Medium.

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