Have you ever attended a poker seminar with a topic of "How to Play Against Women"? I was very surprised when I saw this topic on the agenda for a WPT Boot Camp about a year ago. I've never forgotten the subject, nor the many questions asked by the seminar's male attendees.
It has always been my belief that women are more intuitive than men, a view shared by many others. As more women find success in poker, you will hear about this subject. I recently watched the WPT show from The Shooting Star that featured the heads-up match between Ted Forrest and JJ Liu. When JJ was interviewed, she made a remark that made me think hard on the subject. JJ said, "Because I'm a woman, the men automatically think they can bluff me, but when they do, it becomes easier for me to read them." JJ hit on the one area where I believe women have an advantage over men, intuition.
If true, how does it happen that women are more intuitive than men? Some scientists and behaviorists believe it is the way the brain and hormones work together in each of the sexes. Men, according to these theories, use more logic and reasoning in their thinking, while women are more in tune with their feelings and the nature of their surroundings. Whether or not men are emotional to the extent as women, remains a subject often discussed. One explanation that has been tossed out is that men are suppressed emotionally through social pressures; men will rely on logic and reasoning before feelings and emotions. In these theories, it is found as a weakness if a man is reacting to a given situation emotionally. Women, on the other hand, would then use their intuition on a daily basis, with less social pressure to use only analytical processes. The different approach would then be defined as a natual chemical balance, resulting in the more 'emotional' of the two sexes.
Poker is a game of patience. If this is so, women would appear to be at an advantage at the table, watching, waiting, sensing the demeanor of the players, relying on their intuition. The male players are using thought patterns of logic and reason, trying to recall hands, applying mathematics and computing the past plays in relation to what they are presently observing. With intuition as an advantage on the poker table, women who in most instances tend to play tight and conservative, would then need to step up their game and add an aggressive element to their game. The ability to change gears and adjust your play in relation to the table play is of utmost importance.
An example of intuitive play could possibly include WSOP-Europe, where Annette Obrestad won the main event. How did she do it? By her own admittance, she doesn't use mathematics in her decisions. Annette also talks of never reading poker books, taking lessons or using any tracking assistance. So what does she rely on, this new poker prodigy? And is the fact that she is a female being overlooked in her abilities? Is her success an example of intuitive play mixed with the aggression needed to compete?
What about the heads-up match between Annie Duke and Phil Hellmuth in the 2004 Tournament of Champions? Annie totally unhinged Phil and sent him irretrievably onto a course of tilt. Annie, of course, has a degree in psychology, which no doubt is a great help to her throughout her poker efforts, but certainly we cannot discount her ability to apply her intuitive feelings to any given situation. Annie made a few moves and plays that most would never make when putting another player on a specific hand. But she went with her intuition and totally outplayed the great Phil Hellmuth and made women's poker history.
So ladies, I put this to you: Find your intuitive game, make the most of your gender and go out there and conquer the poker table. We have leaders in women's poker paving the way; all you need to do is get in touch with your intuition and follow the path to your success.
See you at the final table……..