Math vs. Intuition: What Is The Right Poker Strategy?
In poker, “old school” players are often seen as highly intuitive players that always know how to use their instinct and reach a conclusion without overthinking the situation. And for many years now, the game was dominated by such players. It makes sense since poker is a people’s game.
However, in the past decade or two, players who use math to analyze their situation have become much more notorious. This strategy is also appropriate since the main goal in poker is to get the most profit in the long run.
When analyzed further, we can see that the intuitive players use the right half of the brain, the one responsible for our instinct and creativity, while the mathematical players use the left half of the brain, the analytical and logical part.
How Does Observation And Intuition Affect Play
If Bob scratched his hand the last time he was bluffing, the next time he bets while scratching his hand will probably mean that he is bluffing. This is a prime example of analogical thinking or making decisions based on analogy, which is a specific characteristic of the right half of the brain. The left side, however, will analyze every individual aspect of the situation and come to a conclusion based on that.
It’s obvious that both of these components of thinking are similar in life, but in poker, they are very different.
Many players who use their intuition totally refuse to view poker situations as math problems. They just make decisions based on their instinct. As such, they are much better at reading other player’s minds, and when they know what cards they’re up against, they don’t need to spend much time analyzing.
In the same way, players who use math to play poker also discard the idea of just “knowing what to do”, especially in poker where things are genuinely difficult to figure out.
But, which one of these strategies is better?
We have a whole brain for a reason, and using only “half” of your brain to win a poker game seems crazy.
And not only do we need to use both sides of the brain, but it’s also essential for playing a winning poker game. The only way to make a logical analysis correctly is to gather as much data as possible.
Putting It Together In Texas Hold Poker.
If your neighbor calls you over to help him fix his car, and you spend the time to analyze the situation and gather the necessary tools only to find out that the car had just run out of petrol, all the time you spent in your analysis is worth nothing, or even worse, you came to a wrong conclusion.
When playing a poker game, the right side of the brain is the one to notice the details, for instance Bob scratching his hand. But then, the left side of the brain is responsible to come up with a better decision on how to act based on that information. The right side of the brain may notice the scratching, but the left side will consider if the scratching was caused by something else, like a random fly landing on Bob’s hand.
A successful poker game includes collecting information about the surroundings, analyzing every piece of the information, and making a move that will bring the most profit over time. Simply gathering information about other players without knowing how to act on it won’t do much good in a poker game. Similarly, making the right move is worth nothing if it’s based on wrong information.
But still, this is not an either/or situation. Every poker player uses both parts of the brain. Even the most “right-brained” player is still able to calculate basic odds, just like the most “left-brained” person can still notice when someone gets overly excited over a card on the flop. However, every player uses one side more than the other.
But in order to be a complete and successful poker player, both sides of the brain need to be trained and used, especially the one that doesn’t come naturally. We all use one side of our brain more naturally than the other. Which is it for you? Work it out and work on developing the other side. To win in poker, you need to use your whole brain! Try it and see. Use the maths and link it to observation and intuition and you will become a winning player.