7 traits of a winning player

When can you call yourself a winning player? Being called a winning player by other people is a compliment for every player. Often, a player who plays regularly, is considered to be a good player – or simply called regular or reg.

However, not all the regulars are winning players. There are also weak regulars, called Fishregs. These players “grind”  their regular sessions but have numerous leaks in their game, what makes them profitable opponents for real winners in the end. They believe that it’s profitable to play poker and often neglect the work to improve their own game. This happens either unconsciously or because of an inflated ego. So the question arises what a genuine poker grinder really is?

The road to become a winning player and a good regular player is very hard.
It requires not only playing skills, but a lot more to be successful in the long term.

A real winning player

  • Proves to be a winning player
  • Looks at the game as a job
  • Knows how much volume he can and has to play
  • Understands and accepts the variance and the swings
  • Regularly works on his game in order to further improve results
  • Leaves his poker ego at home
  • Tries constantly maximizing his profits with the best cashback/rakeback deals

Winning Player #1 – Can prove to be a Winning Player

A real poker grinder who made enough profit on a meaningful sample size can be considered a proven winning player. This is easy to understand but in practice often difficult to demonstrate. The question is: How can I prove that I am a winning player? In addition, how big is a meaningful sample size?

At what point am I a winning player?

This depends, of course, on your main game. An MTT or SNG Grinder measures his win rate in ROI (return on investment) whereas a cash game player tracks profit in BB/100 (big bet per 100 hands). As long as the ROI or BB/100 is positive – no matter how high the value is – you are a winning player. Of course, it is not enough to prove that you are a long-term winning player. The higher the value and the sample size, the more likely you are a winning player and the more reliable your win rate is.

For SNG players Holdem Manager, for example, has an all-in EV display. This indicator calculates your luck in all all-in situations, by comparing your pot equity with the result (for ICM). This produces the famous “Red-Line EV”, indicating your adjusted win rate. It would be wrong to say that this red line indicates your correct win rate but it definitely helps you find your true ROI.

How big is a meaningful sample size?

A solid SNG player playing 10max with 5% ROI can occasionally have a breakeven period of 1000 and more SNG’s. Similarly as a cash game player you can have swings of up to 50,000 and more hands. The chances are low but we can’t ignore them. Poker is a gamble in the short term and a winning player accepts that and can handle it.

Winning Player #2 – Consider poker as your job

Poker is like a job. A winning player looks at his session as a job. He knows his ROI and focuses on taking as many correct decisions as possible. That is the only thing that a good player can do for the benefit of his win rate. He knows that if he always takes optimal decisions, he will also make money in the long term. Even if he loses albeit making correct decisions, he will take the same decision again next time as long as it maximizes his long-term win rate.

With this mindset the game is more or less a job. A job with unpredictable swings. But the only way to compensate variance is high volume. Thus, we need to play a lot +EV poker to make money in the long run.
What happens if a winning player has a losing streak?

Here the bankroll management and savings come into play. Every real good poker player who plays poker for a living, needs to have enough savings to compensate downswings for a certain time. The savings should cover at least  3-4 months of living expenses.
This has the following reasons:

Protection in the case of a downswing

Mindset -> helps in hard times to play your A-game
A healthy bankroll management is a must-have for everyone who tries to be a professional poker player. It limits the existing possibility of going broke to a minimum.

Many aspiring Grinders don’t think about the following aspects:

Do I make enough profit to be able to keep my bankroll at the same level (after regular payment/cash-outs)?

What do I do if I lose half my BR? Is my mindset good enough?

Do I still play my A-game during a downswing?

Do I behave negative towards my environment (family, friends, etc.)?

A healthy financial backing helps you master these points easily. Moreover, it is a shame when a good player has to end his professional career just because of an early downswing. For a long career as a professional, it is important in the initial phase, to be fused with a good cushion. Many very good players just fail at this point because they completely ignore the bankroll management.

Winning Player #3 – Know how much volume you can play

The hourly rate also depends on how many tables a poker grinder plays. Good poker players calculate their hands/hour or SnG’s/hour realistically and get a more or less accurate calculation of their hourly rate. It is very important for people to think realistically. Your goals should be achievable but not below your potential. Here are a few points that a poker grinder should consider:

Is it realistic to play so many Sit&Go tournaments or hands in an hour?

Can I really play my A-Game for  x hours a day?

Do I earn enough money if I play x hours per day?

Are x hours per day still doable even if I sometimes have to cancel a session earlier to avoid tilt?

There is no right or wrong figure of how much a winning player needs to play. Win rates, multi-tabling skills, stamina and desire, etc. are different for each professional. There are players who make the most profit in a 4-tabling cash game session because they can concentrate better. Other players can grind easily 10+ tables without losing too much edge.

Furthermore, a player with an hourly wage of $120 will not grind as much as someone who earns $30/hour. It depends on your living standard and the expenses a poker player has to cover. Some professionals are not motivated to play more than 2h/day because they earn enough money in these 2h/day to pay for everything they need. In contrast, there are Third-World Country Pros who say, “I’m living the dream grinding 6h per day”. For professionals from economically poorer countries it is much easier to be a pro at lower limits and to find motivation since their costs of living are substantially lower and thus their win rate or their limits played can be lower, too.

Winning Player #4 – Understand and accept the variance and swings

A winning player has to study poker psychology very intensively. He knows the poker reality and accepts it. Poker is a game of small edges and the variance is very high. The majority of players understands that now. The difficulty is to accept these swings, too. Many so-called regulars have problems dealing with so-called downswings.

Winning players always play their A-game and don’t let themselves be influenced by their short term results. Sometimes they lose a very large pot but as long as they are sure that they have made the right decision (+EV), they will do the same next time. That is the mindset of a good winning player. Don’t be result-oriented and, at best, not tilt-prone.

Winning Player #5 – Work regularly on your game

Good poker player ask themselves every  hand, if he could do something better next time. Success only comes from a disciplined work ethic, ongoing analysis and the drive to development your own game.

Poker is a game where you never stop learning. A real winning player tries to expand his poker horizon as far as possible. He wants to be the best of the best. This requires hundreds of hours of manual analysis in addition to the normal sessions. As  already mentioned before, it takes a lot of time to become a good winning player.

Winning Player #6 – Leave your poker ego at home

Your ego has no place in poker. A poker grinder with a big ego can reduce his edge to the point that he no longer plays profitable poker. A poker ego is like being on tilt. You do not play your best game if you haven’t the ability to self-reflect and critically analyze your mistakes.

Winning Player #7 – Ongoing evaluation to maximize your profits with cashback/rakeback

A good player is not only concerned with his own game and his mindset but also intensively studies the offers and VIP systems of different poker rooms. An important part of the profit that pushes a poker player is known as rakeback or cashback. A winning player is always eager to get back as much of his paid rake/tournament fees as possible.

As an example, let us take a player at Titan Poker on the iPoker Network. He played 1500 $10 Sit&Go tournaments. He would pay $1 of tournament fees for every tournament here. That’s a total of $1,500. Therefore, it makes a big difference if he gets back 50% rakeback/cash back or 80%. In this example, there is a difference of $450.

A winning player checks the VIP systems and promotions of various poker sites every month.

Info: YourPokerDream offers the highest rakeback/cashback in the world. With the great offers from our partner rooms and the additional advantages of  YourPokerDream, our players can get a  cashback of up to 100%.

Short summary:

Not every winning player meets all the criteria mentioned above. The more you follow the advice above, the more likely you’ll become a winning player. It is not always easy to play your A-game – in fact, it requires a lot of work.

Briefly, a good player spends his hours not only at the tables but also working on his game and looking at poker as a job because it is his source of income.

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Daniel Berger

Hi Guys, I am Daniel the chief content manager of YourPokerDream.
I have been working in the poker industry for almost 10 years now.
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Latest changes

The last changes of the page “7 Traits of a winning player” was made by Daniel Berger on September 29, 2019