UK Poker Player Poker Strategy Articles Poker Intuition and Gut Feeling

Poker Intuition and Gut Feeling

Posted by David Cowell on July 27, 2010 at 12:49 BST

Intuition, or your “gut feeling”, can turn a hand of poker around for you when you use it in conjunction with the knowledge you have acquired about the game and the dynamics of the table on which you are playing. It can be your best friend when you get it right or your worst enemy when it causes a serious loss, but you have to allow for some of it to enter your game and not just rely on the black and white of poker odds if you want to be a successful player.

Many intuitive decisions are made by the brain registering events on the table that you may have not consciously noticed, and although you may be meticulous with your note taking, there may be one or two events that you misinterpret or glimpse and see of no particular importance. These events can make the difference between playing by the book and being moderately successful or playing as yourself and becoming a champion, and it is these that your intuition picks up on.

More often your gut feelings will be correct and can greatly influence decisions that you make regarding any marginal hands. However it is important that, to arrive at these intuitive judgments, your brain is allowed to absorb the action that is taking place on at the tables and you are not distracted by other diversions going on in your life whilst playing. Multi-tabling is a prime example of where you are probably better off playing by the book, as you will not have a comprehensive opportunity to observe everything that is going on.

Listening to your gut feeling is one thing. Acting on it is another. Most intuitive thoughts are instant, so you should take time to evaluate how your subconscious is suggesting you react and rationalise it within the circumstances. You should only listen to your intuition when you are emotionally balanced, and not if you have a clouded mind or are reacting aggressively to a good/bad situation on the tables. As it leads you to bet or fold, and produces results for you, you will be able to rely on your gut feeling more frequently and grow to trust its opinion.

It is worth remembering that other players have intuition too! Sometimes you may be bewildered about how they could have possibly made that bet with the cards that they held. However, you only ever see the times when that works against you, so maybe not everybody is tuned in to their subconscious as much as they should be. And possibly that is a good thing.

You would not want to see poker deteriorate into a game governed by ethereal intervention – would you?