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A blue DNA helix.

Have you ever wondered whether the top poker players in the industry, like Daniel Negreanu or Kristen Foxen, got to where they are simply due to hard work? Or is it possible that some people are born with very specific traits that turn them into spectacular poker players?

Over the years, scientists have tried to determine whether our personalities and predispositions are determined by our environment or our genetics. Is it possible that some people are simply born with what it takes to play poker for a living?

Let's take a look at what science has to say about genetics and poker skills before we answer that question.

Poker, DNA, and Everything in Between

Many studies focused on testing a diverse number of individuals, twins, and biological siblings to figure out whether different cognitive abilities are affected by the environment or genetics.

The conclusion of those studies is ambiguous, as some experts believe that cognitive abilities are hereditary, while others came to a very different conclusion.

Unumerable studies have been conducted and articles published on the connection between our DNA and our affinity for being successful at the poker table.

One study published in 2018 in the Molecular Psychiatry journal found that different aspects of our thinking process were mostly hereditary. According to the scientist's accumulated data, 67-72% of our general cognitive measures were related to genetics, with 36-56% of our memory and 35-46% of our complex reasoning being affected by our DNA as well.

On the other hand, some studies concluded that environmental opportunities maximize the influence of genetics on cognition. That means that first and foremost, your surroundings and the educational opportunities you get can affect your ability to focus, learn new poker strategies, and become a better player.

Once you get the advantages of a proper education, your genes tend to come more into play and determine how far you might advance the skills you've acquired.

Taking all of this information into account, it can be assumed that some people ARE born with the DNA and natural talent to play poker. Being able to make complicated decisions in a stressful situation, keeping your focus for long hours, and learning new poker skills can come easily to some players.

However, if you don't hone your skills and nurture them, your natural talent won't translate into a successful poker career. Becoming a profitable poker player requires a lot of dedication, hard work, and discipline. So, relying on your natural abilities and your genetics is not enough to bring you major poker wins.

Were You Destined to Play Poker?

Quite a few traits are required to turn you into a good poker player:

  • Good memory – understanding different card combinations, remembering poker strategies, etc.
  • Consistency – sticking to the right strategies even when the desire to deviate from your plan is skyrocketing.
  • Persistence – playing one game after another, until you get enough experience – even if you lose from time to time.
  • Nerves of steel and calmness of mind – allowing you to face challenges with a clear mind.
  • Quick thinking – having enough flexibility to adjust your plans when the situation warrants it.
  • Analyzing abilities – being able to look at your games with an unbiased point of view so you might learn from it and advance your poker skills.

Of course, some players are born with a fraction of those abilities, but most of them are usually acquired through time. If you work hard and put your mind to it, you have the potential to become a great player – with or without helpful genetic dispositions.