Women's Poker Spotlight: Poker and Intuition
"I feel there are two people inside me - me and my intuition. If I go against her, she'll screw me every time, and if I follow her, we get along quite nicely." Kim Basinger
Poker, it seems, is becoming more dynamic and much less structured than it has been known in the past. More than ever, practical decision making and rapid responses are essential. I see more and more players, especially women players, who are learning to break out of the mold and varying their play to an exaggerated degree. Because players are switching up their games at a faster pace, the factors and circumstances that we base our poker decisions on are also changing more rapidly. There is very little time to go through a complete mathematical and rational decision-making process. When one combines all the changing aspects of poker, intuition is being recognized as a valuable asset at the tables.
Poker requires rapid responses and the ability to take in information very quickly. The time clock leaves no time for absolute rationality. There is no black-and-white way to play any hand. Situations change; circumstances influence each and every bet. This is where the intuition part comes in. This is where the subconscious takes over and all that it has learned over the course of the game will come into play. This is where women can gain an edge over their male counterparts.
Let's be clear on what intuition is. When I say "intuition" I am not talking about playing Q-3 offsuit because I had a feeling it would hit. Intuition is not clairvoyance. It is based on facts that your subconscious picks up over time and views it whole versus in a sequence as logic does. I'm sure you know players who are able to recognize quickly the best course of play in different situations. The solution just seems to come to them from somewhere. In reality it comes from all that the subconscious mind takes in rather than some long drawn out derivation of judgment and mathematics.
The subject of women's intuition is an old one and has been debated for centuries. Plato argued that women were more emotional and possessed "intuition," and therefore were less "human" than men as the philosophy "to think is human" was very much in the forefront at the time. In the medical world it is known as fact that women have a thicker corpus callosum, the structure that connects the two halves of the brain, and some believe that is the reason behind a women's intuition or sixth sense.
Still others will say that women's intuition is one that has been cultivated over generations through the way society, especially in the Western culture, has placed its values. It conditioned women to use their intuition while men trained to use logic and reasoning as a basis for their decisions. In poker, however, women's intuition was viewed as emotional and irrational, making women seem vulnerable and more likely to use bad judgment when poker seemed to need solid logic in order to play. Over the past few years, as women continue to make a serious contribution to poker the belief is surfacing that women's intuition as well as a strong knowledge of poker can become a valuable and deadly asset at a poker table.
Poker is making decisions; intuition can make you a much more successful decision maker, especially when you deal with the quick thinking that poker requires. But before you put your poker playing life on the line based on hunches and gut feelings there is one other factor that you need to keep in mind. Logic must come into play at some point when you play poker. You still need to consciously study all the options. Your conscience still must devise standards for judging the outcomes of your choices. In basic terms: you still need to know the facts. You still need to know when calling will cause you to lose a ton of chips — that calling a large preflop raise with K-5 offsuit is just not a good idea.
Intuition and logical thinking can and should work hand in hand at the poker table. Intuition helps fill in the gaps where logic just cannot provide a firm conclusion. Logic offers structure when the conscious brain has never encountered a given situation or set of circumstances before. By having all the options clearly thought out, the mind becomes uncluttered. At that stage, intuition can fill in the blanks and make any player, regardless of gender, a serious force to be reckoned with on the felt.