Trust Your Gut when You Play Online Poker
It is hard to pinpoint exactly what makes a great poker player from a good player or just an average player.
For example if you consider one of the best poker player in the World Johnny Chan, versus another good poker pro (but not as good).
They seemingly know the same techniques such as odds calculation, standard play, poker strategy, etc. It can be argued that the difference comes from instinct and gut feeling.
Gut feeling in poker
There are three types of poker players.
- The mathematical poker player: Players such as Chris Ferguson and David Sklansky know all the intricacies of the math of poker. In each hand that they play, they know exactly the probabilities affecting their chance and the outcome.
- The instinctive poker player: Players like John Phan base their decisions at the poker table on their instinct for the most part. They have a good idea of the odds, but their gut is what drives them.
- The dual poker player: Players like Phil Ivey know both the statistical subtleties of the game and the psychological framework. The combination of both skills is what makes them unbeatable.
It is certain that all good poker players know the odds very well, or at least well enough, but what makes a great player is his instinct and his ability to listen and to trust his gut.
The gut feeling in poker is an instantaneous impression crossing the mind so fast that most people are not well aware of this feeling at all. But great players are cognizant of it, and learn how to use it to their advantage.
Learn to trust Your Guts in Online Poker
An example of gut feeling was described by the great player Johnny Chan. He had rockets in a five handed NLHE game and was second to act. As the UTG folded, he bet 4.5BB and was called by both blinds.
The board came JJ6 rainbow. What Johnny likes to point out, and here this is crucial, is that there are two types of paired boards. Either there are draws, like with a flop 667 with two spades, or there are no draws, like with the flop JJ6 rainbow in this example.
If a player has a set, he will want to protect his hand on a drawy board, but there is no such need in our flop with no draw. So this type of flop is prone to slow playing a set.
When the betting started, both blinds checked but the big blind checked very fast, and this is what alerted Johnny Chan. So he checked too. The turn was a brick and both blinds checked again, but this time the big blind took more time before making his decision. Johnny checked also, a rather unusual move in this situation.
The river card was a brick once more, the small blind checked, but this time the big blind took a moment, then bet 8BB into the 13.5BB pot. Johnny knew he had to fold his pocket pair of aces, and he was proven right when the big blind showed pocket sixes, having flopped a full house.
It is a difficult decision to fold bullets even though your gut feeling is telling you that you are beaten. Many players would have bet with them or would have called some bets. Here this hand cost absolutely no chip to Johnny Chan, because of his tremendous poker skills and his reliance on his gut.
The majority of party poker players will never be able to tap into there gut feeling the way Johnny does. It takes a lot of practice to learn to recognize your gut and to trust it, but most of us know when we hear it or feel it, we just do not know how to used it well.
In order to master your gut feeling when you play online poker, you need to have a good balance in your mind and emotional control over yourself, plus the self-confidence in your instinct.
Your gut feeling may not always provide the right answer, but it can be right often enough to give you an edge over your opponents.