The poker world loves using animals as a way of categorizing players. I’ve written articles in the past on donkeys and nits, and now I’m concentrating on sharks. A shark is the one creature you should aspire to be. They are predators, attacking their prey and top of the food chain. If a fish is a weak player, a beta, then a poker shark is surely the alpha. In this article, we will look at what a shark is, how to become one and more importantly, how to remain one.
What is a Poker Shark?
A shark is a term used to describe an excellent poker player. They can also be known as a card shark. A shark is a winning poker player that dominate the opposition. They will strategize, plan, hand read, bluff well, use math and play aggressively to win money and tournament chips. Like a shark in the sea, they will exercise patience, circle their prey and know the exact time to strike. At the poker table, this might mean waiting patiently for 2 hours to bust their opponent. A shark is to be feared and respected.
How to Become a Shark
It’s impossible to become a shark poker player upon starting the game. Like the world we live in, one must evolve to become a shark. You need to acquire lots of different skills to become a shark.
It’s worth noting that being a winner doesn’t necessarily make you a shark. You’ve heard the expression “big fish in a small pond”. This true in the poker world. After all, a table with 9 fishes will have someone winning. That doesn’t mean they are the shark. They are simply the best fish of the lot. Put that fish in with larger, dangerous predators and they will be eaten up and spat out with little effort.
To become a shark, one must become proficient in the skills below:
- Poker Math
- Hand Reading
- Bet Sizing
- Emotional Control
- Continuation Betting
- Value Betting
- Hand Selection
- Table Awareness
- Bankroll Management
- Game Selection
As you can see, there are at least 12 skills required to becoming a shark. In certain games, you can skirt by and win by having just a few of the skills above. But how far will that take you? If you are keen to become a shark and to develop the skills, it’s not over. One must maintain that level…
Staying a Shark
As previously stated, poker is like evolution. The only difference is, once you reach a level, it’s entirely possible to go back. It’s logical that if you stand still and others evolve and improve, you are essentially going back. If you’re going back and others are going forward, sooner or later you will get overtaken.
Complacency is a challenge that all poker sharks must deal with.
It doesn’t take much for it to set in, hand selection to widen too much, bluffing attempts to be too frequent or an arrogant approach to game selection.
To avoid this happening to you, I recommend something that most professional fields advise – continued professional development (CPD). This is something professions such as accountancy insist upon in order to maintain current level of knowledge. You can do likewise by dedicating time to self-improvement. You could try reading poker books, using poker training services, investing in new poker software or following the best poker blogs. Whatever method you try is up to you, but if it keeps you a shark, then surely, it’s worth it?