Patience in Poker – The Most Underrated Virtues of Poker Players

What I hope to give you in this article are a few lessons I learned the hard way, in hopes of helping the novice player avoid these common traps, namely impatience, because it can really cost you on the poker felt.

Patience is one of the hardest aspects of the game to learn. I still struggle with this critical skill. All the experts will tell you how to play your premium hands and remain disciplined to fold when you haven’t got much of a hand. They offer sound advice and you should heed it, but remember that you will not be getting a premium hand all that often. This is where patience comes in.

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The decision you make before the flop will be the decision that costs you money or makes you money in the long run. This is the most critical point in the hand. Although you are yet to see any community cards, it is the betting round where you will be making the majority of your decisions. After all, you have to decide on what action to take in this round of betting for every new hand. But more than that, the starting hands you choose to play in Texas Hold’em will have a significant influence on the chances of winning the hand if it gets to showdown.

Many beginners play far too many hands because they lose patience from being card dead for hours, which is inevitably going to happen to every poker player at some point. But this is the time you want to be practicing your poker skills by working on your patience and discipline.

Sometimes novice players will think they can play all kind of different starting holdings after watching the World Poker Tour or World Series of Poker Main Event on TV and believe they should be playing all those crazy hands that the pros play. The thing is though they forget that the pros have a method to their supposed madness and that the TV show edits out most of the folding since it is not as exciting.

When it comes to a relatively inexperienced player attempting these same “crazy” plays, and playing junk hands, it more often than not is just going to be spew, because there will be no logical thought process going into the decision. A lot of the time, it’s simply trying to run over the table, but this uncontrolled aggression will quite often be their undoing.

I like to remind new players that they can’t lose money they don’t bet. That is the power of the fold. You could be sitting at a table with Doyle Brunson, Phil Ivey, Gus Hansen, and Johnny Chan and not lose a dime to those pros (outside of the blinds) if you folded every hand. You as the player have control over whether you are putting your money at risk or not. It is when a player starts to wade into the pool with marginal hands that the sharks start to feed. Remember that there is no shame in folding when you are likely beat. The proper fold leaves money in your stack and keeps you loaded for bear when a premium hand shows.

You also don’t need to feel obligated to hold on to either your big or small blind if you’re raised. Bad cards are bad cards regardless of where you sit and you will be out of position for the rest of the hand. As you get more advanced in your play, you can attack players you believe may be blind-stealing, but as a beginner, it may be smarter for you to live to fight another day instead of letting your ego cost you money.

If you want to practice patience, I would challenge you to try sitting at a micro-limit cash game table online (.05/.10 for instance) and fold every hand that is not considered a Top 10 hand (AA, KK, QQ, JJ, AK, AQ, TT, 99, 88, 77). This may prove to be very boring at first, but it will give you a sense of the type of patience you need. Notice how often a premium hand arrives. Obviously, the successful poker player plays many hands beyond the top 10 hands, but the beginner needs to learn patience and be capable of folding hands that may look good but really aren’t good such as Ace rags. Once you begin to develop that patience, you then can practice expanding your starting hands and working on the tricky plays.

Hopefully these few suggestions will save you money and offer you better chances to win and winning is always more fun than losing.