There are many facets to playing winning poker; two of major importance are your knowledge and thought level. Defining what you need to learn compartmentalizes the issues, allowing you to focus on the most important aspects and simplify the learning process.

Crucially, you’ll need to develop strong strategic knowledge to play well. Strategic learning will be a never-ending process. The good news is that there is an abundance of good books, videos and computer training materials available to acquire this knowledge. Some people think poker is about common-sense, and you can play winning poker just by familiarity and basic wisdom. Those are the folks you’ll want to play with after you’ve studied up! Don’t underestimate the level of knowledge required, it’s considerable.

Additionally, you’ll need to develop concentration and awareness. Poker requires that you gather and process information. The more you’re aware of, the better your decisions.
You’ll also need to develop a linear analytical process, to define and think through situations and be able to logically analyze complicated poker circumstances.

Develop your people-reading skills. Learn to analyze opponents’ thoughts and emotions. It’s the road to reading their holdings. Get good at this, and you’ll be able to read, not just their current hand range, but also their potential future actions.

The mental skills will come with focus and practice. Learn the strategies, and utilize them at the table. Use your time well at the table; grow your game and mental skills by keeping your mind on the game, and go over every hand played and your opponents’ thought process.

Over time, you’ll gradually develop great skills and feel for the game!