The Secrets of Poker Success

By Tom "TIME" Leonard | August 14, 2009

I’m sure the title of this article caught your attention and I’m glad because in addition to the promise of the title, I’m going to give you a big bonus!  However, I’m not going to give it to you right away – keep reading and I promise not to renege on my promise of a bonus. is dedicated to the study of poker and helping its readers become successful at the game.  Most poker players gauge success as winning, I know I do.  Having access to all the information contained on this web site is a major upside for someone who desires to learn how to play poker or recognizes that they could improve their game.  Of course this transformation does not occur by osmosis, there is much work to be done.

Whatever the endeavor, competitive people, certainly an attribute of poker players, wish to prevail.  They desire to score the winning goal, pocket the most balls, hit the most bull’s eyes and take home the most coin of the realm.  It has been said that the key to it all is not the will to win – we all possess that.  It is the will to prepare to win that is critical.  The will to prepare is where all the hard work starts – there is no osmosis technique for poker or any other endeavor.  You may wish as hard as you want but if you do not possess the will to put in the work that is necessary, you will not succeed. You might in the lottery by getting lucky, but not in poker or most anything else.

The really terrific aspect of dedicating yourself to truly prepare to win is it will also result in good luck.  Do you now think I’ve gone daft with that last sentence?  I simply want you to focus to the reality of good luck occurring when preparation meets opportunity.  If the opportunity arrives but you do not have a clue what to do about it, then success will elude you and that would be a pity.  Dedicate yourself to absorbing the information presented here on and then find an opportunity to put that knowledge to good use.  Finding a nice soft game full on donks seems like a good idea!

Once you feel that you have become an accomplished student/player of the game, due in part to the poker lessons, don’t become complacent.  If you stop what should be a never ending process and think you know it all, you will begin to fall behind the legion of players that continue to grow in their knowledge of new strategies and perfection of various aspects of the game.  After studying this poker course, reading the books offered up in the additional resource section, gaining lots of experience through playing time and discussing strategy with players whose games you respect, what do you do to keep getting stronger?  Read on to find out.

You need to take stock of where you stand on the knowledge/experience curve relative to the poker games you have inhabited.  This challenge can take some serious and honest introspection. It should go beyond an analysis of “Am I winning or losing?” In the short term your positive results could well be skewed by the favorable nod of the Poker Gods.  This self analysis should also not be an overall report card but should be broken down into the many aspects of the game which are critical to winning play.  Those elements should include hand reading skills, discipline, understanding and application of the mathematical aspects of the game, and understanding physical and spoken poker tells to name several.  Now I’m going to go out on a limb but I believe even Doyle Brunson, who has been playing high stakes professional poker for over fifty years, is occasionally disappointed in his performance at the table.  That having been said, if you cannot point to any aspect of your game that you don’t recognize needs improving – you are absolutely in denial.  Ask a friend who’s opinion you trust to evaluate your play – you may be surprised at his observations.

Once you have thoroughly and honestly evaluated your strengths and weaknesses at the poker table, you need to set a plan of action.  The plan should attack your weaknesses which, to be polite, we’ll call developmental needs.  Once you have identified a developmental need you must set a goal to eliminate it or at least mitigate its negative influence on your game.  You must strive to make these goals meaningful.  A five letter acronym has been used to make sure goals are not too easy which would be a waste of your time.  That acronym is SMART and should remind you to make your goals Specific, Measurable, Aligned, Realistic and Time related. Using this goal setting process can be extremely rewarding, improving your game in the areas that need honing.  Also, your self esteem will improve as you will witness results that you and you alone made happen.  In addition to these esoteric rewards, financial rewards should follow.  Strengthening your skills through a self appraisal and goal setting process can’t help but produce enhanced results.

Well there you have it, the secrets of poker success – have the will to prepare to win and be honest enough with yourself to understand your own frailties and set realistic goals to improve upon or eliminate them.  No, I didn’t forget about the bonus I promised you in the opening.  I’m sure you have figured out for yourself – these same secrets can be used in all the challenges you face in life.  Go ahead and try them, you’ll be a better person for it.

By Tom "TIME" Leonard

Tom has been writing about poker since 1994 and has played across the USA for over 40 years, playing every game in almost every card room in Atlantic City, California and Las Vegas.


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