In the introduction to my first book, The Greatest Book of Poker for Winners!, I offer an analogy...In real estate investment, there are three factors essential for success: Location; Location; Location!
Similarly, there are three factors essential to winning at poker: Patience; Patience; Patience!
I am not the only one who has recognized the importance of patience in winning at poker. In a recent column in a poker magazine, author Matt Lessinger commented on a series of articles written by Dr. Alan Schoonmaker, the world’s leading poker psychologist, about skills needed to transition from online poker to playing in a brick-and-mortar casino.
The differences are significant as are the skills to successfully make the change. Schoonmaker carefully identified many pertinent skills. Lessinger took issue with him, claiming Schoonmaker should have included patience as "the single most important skill."
We agree patience is essential to being a winner at the game of poker. Conversely, being impatient can only lead to ultimate failure in the poker room. Without patience, you are likely to go home a loser. No argument there.
The issue here is whether patience is actually a skill one can acquire or is it a human attribute – a personal trait one possesses. Some people naturally have more patience than others – just like other human traits such as handling pain.
Of course, like any other trait, you can definitely force yourself to be more patient.
Lessinger aptly defined "skill" as a "developed or acquired ability." Skill is talent, expertise, proficiency that we develop by practice and study. An athlete gains skill by intensive practice. We gain poker skills in many ways: reading poker related books and poker publications that teach useful strategies (rather than merely report on events or people); attending poker classes, workshops and seminars; and observing, thinking, and analyzing the play at the poker table.
Those activities that help us to become more skilled won’t aid us in becoming more patient while playing poker; i.e., being able to calmly await a happening – like waiting for your date to finish putting on her makeup.
After much deliberation while writing my first book, I labeled "patience" as a factor – an important one. A "factor" is something that contributes to or has an influence on the outcome of something. In this case, we are concerned with the outcome of a game of poker. In my book, I highlighted: "Patience is an essential attribute for winning at poker."
Bottom line: Patience is a personal trait, an attribute or characteristic – but not an acquired skill – that one can employ if he has the will, the desire, and self-discipline to do so. It may take much patience to acquire poker skills.
You might think we are focusing too heavily on semantics, but it is important to recognize the difference between skills one can acquire and traits one possesses. In both cases, it is up to the individual as to whether he wants to acquire skills and then employ them along with his natural patience while seated at the poker table.
PokerSharks know the difference and value of both, and make the necessary effort; PokerPigeons – well they just came to play.
Patience is essential if you really want to be a winner at the game of poker. In that, both Lessinger and I agree. Remember, when seated at the poker table to bring some.
George "The Engineer" Epstein is a noted author/poker teacher in West Los Angeles and recent inductee into the Seniors’ Poker Hall of Fame. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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