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How to Develop your Poker Intuition?
Is there any room for intuition in poker? Have you ever had a strong feeling about a specific hand? Feeling your opponent had a set and that even though you had a good hand, you were in trouble.
Some say poker is just mathematics & psychology. So is intuition a potentially useful skill in poker? Watching durrrr playing high stakes at Full Tilt supports this idea.
Or should we discard any impression that we may have while playing? But first, what is intuition? Intuition is a category of knowledge and understanding of certain situations, which goes beneath the surface of our conscience.
What is Intuition in Poker?
Generally speaking, intuition is the experience of a belief without the intervention of reasoning. The belief is there but the logical path leading to it is absent. It is like a little voice spoke in your head. Can this little voice called intuition be trusted?
The truth of the matter is that intuition is based on learning by recognizing hidden patterns. For example we sometimes know what someone will say before he says it, based on his facial expression and body composure. This is part of intuition, which is a type of knowledge based on pattern recognition acquired over a multitude of comparable events.
Indeed this type of knowledge acquisition is at the core of how our brain operates. Poker is a perfect field where such ability can be exercised, because poker is a game of imperfect information where it is very important to detect patterns, and where standard logical reasoning may have its limitations.
Here is an illustrative example that happened to me recently while I was playing in a NL50 game at PokerStars. I was happy to have a pair of aces as my hole cards. I made a standard raise of 3bb and got 2 callers including the bid blind. The latter was an unknown fish, with PFR/VPIP=74/14 over 40 hands, enough to show what he was what they call a calling station.
The flop was 543 with two spades. I made a small 4bb and was only called by the big blind. Even though I probably still had the best hand, this was clearly a dangerous drawy board but a bigger bet would not have made a calling station fold. The turn was the very dangerous 6 of clubs, and we both checked. Then the river was the four of diamond and villain rapidly checked.
Normally in this situation the thing to consider by the river is if I should value bet or not. In fact as we mentioned in another article, failing to value bet consistently is a leak. In this hand, the villain did not show any strength and it could be a wasted opportunity not to bet with rockets in last position, right? He checked-called twice and then checked twice, showing weakness, did he not?
For some reason, I felt some danger. I had some kind of poker intuition that betting the river was a bad idea. This was an instantaneous feeling, which can be explained in hindsight by the fact that he almost instantly checked the river, but he was not the type of transparent player who always insta-check weak hands. I checked and he showed A4s for a trip of 4s.
Importance of Intuition in Poker
From the previous example, it is clear that I believe that intuition can play a significant part in poker. This is sometimes called guts feeling or the sixth sense. This skill cannot be taught and must be acquired by playing tons of online poker. Check our poker room reviews for a selection of the best online poker rooms.
It could be argued that intuition is much more important in live poker than in online poker because there is so much more to observe when you can see your opponents physically. I do not disagree with that. But there is still merit in using your intuition in online poker, especially with respect to the timing of actions.
Timing before acting is one of the most important online poker tell. No software can record and analyze such information, so you must rely on your own experience and intuition in order to correctly evaluate online timing situations. In the example from the previous section, I explained that it is my online experience which gave me the intuition that the villain was trying to trap me.
Learn and train yourself to listen to your subconscious while playing poker. Test your inner voice and see how often it is right or wrong. Your intuition will never be right 100% percent of the time, and no method can achieve perfect success. But if you develop your poker intuition, it will certainly make you a stronger poker player.