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Underappreciated Poker Skills

The 3 Most Underappreciated Poker Skills

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We all know what poker skills most people appreciate: Sick reads. Sick bluffs. The ability to move chips around. But do you know what the most underappreciated poker skills are?

Most people don’t realize that huge hero calls and bluffs don’t come up all that often. YouTube and television edit those hands together because they happen so rarely. What skills can you help you in ANY poker game? I’m glad you asked.

The following are the three most underappreciated poker skills.


Patience is not weakness. It costs 1.5 big blinds to see 9 hands in cash games. That means each hand costs you next to nothing. You don’t need to rush anything.

It costs 2.5 big blinds to see 9 hands in a tournament. That means each hand only costs a quarter of a big blind. You shouldn’t start panicking with 40 big blinds if each hand is only costing you a quarter.

Everyone can fold when they miss the flop. Everyone can get all their money in with a set.

What separates great players from good players is how they play top pairs and mediocre two pairs.

If you can be strong enough to fold top pair or two pair when it’s not good, you’ll have a huge edge on the competition. But this edge will require you to be patient. Patience is one of the most underrated poker skills out there.

You KNOW when your hand is crap. And You KNOW when your hand isn’t worth anything after the turn. You have the same sickening feeling before every bad river call.

Listen to your gut. Wait everyone out. Tough players can sit for hours waiting for their shot. They’re like snipers. Nothing gets to them.

The Inability To Feel Embarrassment is one of the Most Severely Underappreciated Poker Skills

There are many times in No Limit Hold’em where you know a large overbet will only have to work 60% of the time to work. You estimate that the bluff will actually work 80% of the time.

Why are you confident in your estimate? Your opponent calls quickly when he wants you to slow down. He called you quickly on a board with flush draws and straight draws. This guy would have played fast with sets and two pairs. His hand range is capped at one pair. You know he has a lot of weak one pairs because he calls out of the big blind with half the deck.

In this situation, you have to apply pressure. Your bet will work eight times out of ten. You know your bet is profitable.

One time out of five you’re going to look like a dumbass.

People want to play social poker. They want to limp in or call raises and see flops. They don’t take kindly to someone ramming and jamming.

If they see someone slap you upside the head by catching your bluff, they’re going to laugh at you. They’re hoping to embarrass you into playing slower. They’re sick of you putting pressure on them. This is their chance to get you to stop.

You have to be immune to this social pressure. These players don’t beat the rake. If you get their approval, something is seriously wrong with your game.

Realistic Self-Esteem

If you believe you’re God’s gift to poker, every losing session will be a shock to you.

If you believe you’re a human applying a solid strategy, you’ll accept that some sessions will go poorly. Believe it or not, this is another one of those underappreciated poker skills.

If you have average, healthy, or even low self-esteem, you won’t be embarrassed and angry when you play poorly. You expected that you would make mistakes. You will move on quickly.

People with huge egos and inflated self-esteem never work on their poker game. Studying someone else to them is admitting weakness. They already know everything. What could they learn from this person?

Players with average or low self-esteem assume the janitor could teach them something about the game. They have no ego preventing them from hearing someone out. If they don’t find the advice immediately helpful, they’ll just forget about it. Their time and self-perception isn’t that precious, so they can move on quickly.

Finally, players with realistic self-esteem can try huge plays with impunity. They won’t have their sense of self shattered if something goes wrong. They didn’t care much about their image at the table anyway, and can survive with nobody liking their play.


Poker isn’t just about the sick bluffs you can pull off. It’s also about waiting for your moment to strike, making thin folds, trying embarrassing but solid bluffs, and not getting too worked up when things don’t go your way. These are all underappreciated poker skills that will take you a long way in this game.

In your next session, seek to play more tactical poker. Listen to your gut. Don’t try to save face. You don’t need other people’s approval anyway.

Looking for more good advice from Head Pro Alex Fitzgerald? Read his article on 5 Common Tells to Spot a Bluff.

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Alex Fitzgerald

Master Poker Coach | Low-to-mid-stakes | WPT & EPT final tablist | $3.5M cashes | Best Selling Author

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