Making Poker Decisions Based on Our Instincts

In an earlier article, I talked about what role intuition plays in decisions you make during your poker session. I reviewed a few examples, showing that sometimes we don’t have enough time or information at our disposal and should instead make our decisions based on our instincts. Now I’d like to say a couple words about what you can track these intuitions back to, and if you can work on honing these skills.

Facility or knowledge?

In my opinion poker intuition is more reminiscent of knowledge, rather than some kind of superpower. In the first part I’ve mentioned this already, but let’s repeat it once again: you can only have instincts regarding things you have some experience with. In an actual situation where you have to make a decision every similar situation you’ve experienced before counts as information. This means that the players who have good instincts can draw a lot from the past. The point is that if this isn’t conscious, you can call it instinct. In my opinion the more hands a player has played, the better he can react to unexpected situations.

How can you develop this facility?

According to professional sources, these skills can be improved. If you accept that intuition is no different than an unconscious retrieval of unconsciously stored information, then you accept that this ‘library’ of information can be expanded, and this improves the skill further. The human brain is a sponge that collects and stores information. Practically, this means that the more hands a player plays, analyses, or just sees during his career, the better his instincts will get. The professional attitude, the learning and the background work has a huge role in our poker career. The personal skills and the talent is also determinative, but I’m sure that with enough willpower and practice everyone can get to a high level.

Live Poker Tournament Table

PokerStars Hand Replayer

Obviously you don’t have enough time to analyse your hands while multi-tabling – analysis is a separate process that must be taken outside of playing. But you always have a few seconds to replay your own hands quickly. The PokerStars Hand Replayer is perfect for this purpose, which you can reach with just one click in all your tables. I use this all the time. I suggest to always look for your opponent’s bet sizing s a key way to get information.

Developing your intuitive facility

If you have a little bit more time during your session, you should check some hands where you weren’t involved. If there is free time, I like to review all hands where I played a big pot, which I couldn’t follow in-game. If there is a showdown at the end of the hand, that’s the best. In these situations I stop the replayer and I try to guess which hands the players have. I also try to think about what their thought process might be in the given hand and why they chose to go with a particular move. With this interactive review you can collect information about the tendencies of your opponents and about their mistakes as well. This could be beneficial due to two separate reasons. First, you can use it against your opponent even in the same session when he makes the same mistake again or just uses the same betting line. This gives away information about his hand strength that you can exploit. On the other hand, as I already mentioned, the human brain is a sponge soaking information in and it keeps track of statistics subconsciously. When you see similar situations to ones we already encountered, your brain finds the right answers easier to come by.

Article created for PokerStars School by Pintér ‘TropiFish’ Márk