Are you playing for fun or for keeps? One of the things that a lot of poker players (as well as gamblers in general) seem to forget about is the fact that they’re playing a game. For pro poker players, who might even have a number of big wins under their belts, the notion of taking the game seriously is more or less a given. But if you really delve into the game (some might even call it a sport at this point) you’ll find that there are plenty of world-class poker stars who really seem to be having the time of their lives. This of course brings to the forefront an interesting question; at what point does one make the transition from studious amateur to that of an energized professional?
For most people, the answer is simple – you become a pro when you start to really earn some real cash (you know, enough to make a living from your efforts). Others might have a different interpretation, perhaps feeling that the main determining factor is skill (and little else). Regardless, it’s fairly safe to say that most of us know a professional poker player when we encounter one. They’re usually the one at the table who’s most at ease, perhaps racking up loads of chips, much to the chagrin of everyone else.
This of course brings us to the next obvious question; what sort of poker player are you? Or conversely, what kind of player do you aspire to be? For a lot of people, nothing short of mastering the game is sufficient. Naturally, motivations tend to be financially-based or even ego-driven for a good portion of the poker-playing populace. But is this drive to accumulate fame and fortune really what makes a decent player an excellent one? Arguably, one could say that it is only through an intense love and enjoyment of the game that it is possible to truly conquer the game in its totality.
While it’s possible to learn all the strategies and even figure out a way to quickly read most opponents, you can’t help but wonder if overly-analytical types of players aren’t missing the point. In other words, when a person devotes themselves solely to the technical elements of poker it could be said that they might be avoiding addressing the “instinctual” side of the game.
For example, consider the kinds of thought processes that improvising musicians (those who can create as they are performing) have vs. those who can only rehearse and repeat. Sure, they’re two totally different things, but one can’t help but notice that the former group (the improvisers) seems to have a much stronger instinct for what they’re doing. Similarly, some poker players appear to have wired their brains in such a way so that they’re benefiting from and enjoying the game on a deeper level than those who simply think of it as a numbers game.