How Developing Your Poker Intuition Improves Your Real Life Decision Making Skills
October 3, 2012 Leave a Comment
If your intention is to become a long-term winning poker player, you will need to develop an extensive list of personality traits to succeed. One of the most crucial aspects of a winning poker player’s mindset is their intuition. Developing and trusting your intuition in the heat of battle is essential if you want to take your game to the next level.
This article will outline how to use your intuition to help you win in No-Limit Texas Hold’em, and allow you to make better decisions in your life outside of the poker arena.
What is Intuition?
Intuition is defined as the ability to acquire knowledge without inference and/or the use of reason.
Here is a demonstration of how professional poker player Daniel Negreanu uses his intuition to gather knowledge about his opponents:
Poker is a game of incomplete information. You know what cards you hold, and what their strength/value is, but determining what range of hands your opponent has can often be quite difficult, especially when they are solid players that disguise their hand ranges very well. When determining what cards an opponent holds, you must pin them on a range, not exact cards. You must analyze and determine based on the information you have gathered what possible holdings they might have in each hand.
How can we use our intuition to become a better poker player?
As seen in the demonstration of the Daniel Negreanu video above, being able to read your opponents hand strength is essential if you want to succeed. Daniel is very good at pinning opponents on certain hands, and he trusts those reads when he makes decisions in hands. He might not have a very strong hand, but if he feels his opponent is weak, he has no problem putting that opponent at a decision for all of their chips. Daniel has made millions of dollars in tournament poker due to his ability to read opponents accurately.
Confidence in your poker abilities is a big element of using your intuition. You must be confident enough at the table to ALWAYS trust your reads. Viktor Blom has stated before that when he has a read on an opponent, he instantly acts on his instincts without thinking himself out of a decision. This may appear a little reckless, but Viktor has developed his abilities to the point where he almost always KNOWS he is going to be right because he has put so much time into learning and studying the game and his opponents. He is going to be right more often than wrong, and in the long run, that will generate him profit, assuming he practices proper bankroll management. (he has struggled in the past with managing a bankroll, but with his skill level, investors will stake him money if he ever needs it. Not everyone has that luxury.
How can we develop our poker intuition?
When you have put in countless hours of practice and applied strategy in poker games, you begin to see certain tendencies from different types of players. There are usually two types of players in any given poker game. Aggressive or passive, with different levels of variation in certain situations and hands. When you play with a certain opponent for an extended period of time, you should be developing a feel for how they play. Personally, I like to define an opponents breaking point, where I know they are hesitant to commit a lot of chips in certain pots. Even if I don’t have a strong holding, if I have the aggressive lead on the pot, I am going to bet until my opponent proves to me he is strong, or is going to play back at me and re-bluff me.
You MUST observe the action of every single players decision in each hand, even if you are not involved. If you are playing to maximize your profit (which you should be) it is essential to study each player on each hand, instead of texting your friends or browsing the web. Players who I observe taking part in these activities when they are not in hands are players I will exploit for profit, because I know they are not watching what I am doing in hands they are not involved in.
The information you gain in this process will ultimately benefit you when you are in a hand with a specific opponent. In live games, you also have the luxury of observing body language (where a lot of subconscious tells are given away). Online, you don’t have that ability but you can play multiple tables at a single time which is great if you have an online poker HUD, such as PokerTracker. PokerTracker sorts and organizes your downloaded hand histories from your poker client, and arranges them in a quick easy way to see how aggressive/passive your opponents are, along with a variety of other vital statistics. Using your intuitive abilities in each hand, along with these statistics, will help you make profitable decisions in the long-run.
Strong intuition is vital in more than just poker!
Ever feel like someone is lying to you? You just have a “sense” that they are full of shit. Well guess what? Most times you are probably right. This is true in poker games, and also real life. It can save you from making bad decisions that will ultimately hurt you in the long-run.
In the “real world” you might use your intuition to determine if a business deal is a smart profitable decision. If your gut is giving you some resistance towards going with the deal, you should probably investigate. Is the person I am doing business with trying to deceive me? Are they trying to manipulate me for profit, and do they have the best intentions for me? If you are hesitant towards following through, it is probably for a reason. That little nudge you are getting is your intuition telling you to avoid the deal.
I think you can see how this plays into almost every aspect of life, not just poker and business. Your mind is a powerful tool, and a big part of your mind is the subconscious operation behind the scenes. Your third-eye chakra is sending you signals that are being sent to you almost like a radio wave, you just have to tune in. Most people never do, and they experience negative results in their life as a consequence.
Learn to trust what your body is signaling to you, not just in poker, but in life. Don’t fall victim to manipulation and deception because you have not learned how to read a situation effectively. In poker, it will cost you money, in real life, it can cost you your health, relationships, and ultimately, your overall well-being.
I will follow-up this article in the next few weeks with specific examples of how I have used my intuition to make good decisions not only at the poker table, but in my actual life. I will continue to explain how to enhance your intuitive abilities, and I believe that developing your intuition is an absolutely essential part of living a healthy, conscious, and abundant lifestyle.
Check out our extensive poker strategy section if you are interested in taking your game to the next level!