Intuition is a key factor in poker. The game is not solved and a solid amount of your winnings certainly does come from experience and analytical abilities, but a cut of the cake depends on how good you are in reading the situations and your opponents.
There are several reasons why intuition is important:
- you have limited time to make a decision. Due to time bank restrictions, online poker is about reasoning fast and make up your mind within 30-45 seconds. Especially in tough spots, this time might and won’t be enough. It doesn’t mean that you have to rely on your pure gut feeling for making hard calls or folds, but that the time might just not be enough to calculate the odds or all the possible combos, therefore trust your instinct is the last resource you can use.
- your reads on opponents are never perfect. Yes, there are bad players who can be read as they were playing with cards face up, but in most of the cases, guessing about the bluffing range in a given spot is hard and must depend on your read of the game, your history with the opponent and your sensations at the moment of the hand.
- bad intuition is so much dangerous. You can use it as a weapon, but you definitely cannot use it as your first resource. You are not that good as you think you are and most of the money will come from hard study and good analysis, not from extraordinary calls spotting a bluff out of your opponent’s cards.
When to trust your instinct
If you are in a spot with a medium strength hand and your opponent behaves very aggressively, making you feel something is weird or wrong about the hand, there are good chances you start developing a reasoning that includes many questions as:
- should I call?
- Should I fold?
- How did he play in the previous 10 hands?
- Do we have history?
- Is he a regular or a bad player? And more.
As said in 30 seconds is very difficult to focus on these small details and trusting your guts it a nice way to get out from the hand. Not the only way, but a good one.
How to increase your intuition
Intuition depends on your inner abilities on reading situations – yes – but mostly on your experience. In fact if you are *that* good in playing “by heart”, it means that you have played a similar spot versus similar opponents dozens of times and, subconsciously, something tells you that you are right about a fold or a call.
If you do not feel to have such great experience yet in your poker life, just do not trust your guts.
It will not be nice to hear, but most of the intuition and the experience which generates it, comes from losing money; every time you make a bad intuition-call, you will end up remembering it and these lessons are as hard as valuable, for every player.
Winning or losing, make sure to flag mentally and physically the hands where you have decided to act basing your decisions on your guts, because they are the most interesting to analyze after session and the ones that are going to bring the most knowledge on your opponent’s styles.