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Listen to your Gut

Listen to your Gut When at the Tables
by Loki Luchs of

I have something to confess; I have a voice in my head. The fact of the matter is that I think a lot more people do than admit it. My problem with this is that, without exception, for all of the major mistakes that I've made in my life, he’s been there chiding me with warnings of danger and demise. He’s a snide, mocking, condescending, little-prick, but the problem is that he’s always been right. He was right when he told me that “that potato-salad has been sitting out for a couple of days...” He wasn’t lying when he told me that “red-heads are great to look at, but not to date...” He was Johnny-on-the-spot with the sage advice: “You're pouring gasoline on the inside of a burning pit…” It’s a shame that I've never been the type to listen.

Some call it a gut-feeling, others a 6th sense; I’ve come to believe that it’s a self-defense mechanism that developed over the millennia to promote survival. It warns me when I'm in danger. The voice gives me a perspective that is honest and objective. It really wants what’s best for me, because its got a vested interest in me.

When was the last time that you were talking to someone and you suddenly got that feeling that something wasn't right? Something about the situation made you uncomfortable but you couldn't quite put your finger on it. This will happen in poker all of the time. If you're not used to watching for “tells” or betting patterns, you might still be able to figure out what to do by listening to your gut. When I began playing poker, I found that my intuition suddenly had a lot to say. Whenever I have found myself weighing the options in a difficult situation, I find that he likes to chime in. While we may not all have a gut feeling that is as vocal as mine, its important to get into touch with yours.


Many of the great players talk to themselves at the table. I won't speak for any of the top professionals (who would likely sue me for accusing them of schizophrenic tendencies), but personally, I'm having a dialogue with my gut when I vocalize my thoughts. Here are a few recent ones that I've had.

1. Me: “That’s a weird raise.” Him: “He probably missed his draw and he’s trying to buy the pot. You're a moron.”

2. Me: “Check-call twice, and a check-raise on the river.” Him: “He might have slow-played the whole way… it’s possible he was making crying-calls and hit a third deuce on the river. You should have checked behind on the river. You're fish-food.”

3. Me: “You raised early position pre-flop, bet the Ace-high monotone flop, checked the four-flush, bet a quarter of the pot on the river.” Him: “She had a premium opening, hit the flop’s ace or had the K of Clubs for the nut draw, or maybe both, either checked the turn because she was afraid she was beaten or because she was looking to check-raise and is either begging for a call or is afraid of the raise. Make a flat value-call with your pathetic deuce of clubs and you'll win about a third of the time and pray that I don’t give you an aneurysm while you sleep.”

From a psychological standpoint, the reasoning for this would be that our brains process so much information, somewhere in our multi-layered consciousness we may have interpreted information that is important to our decision making, but hasn't been made aware to us at a conscious level. We've got so many visual, auditory, and tactile information to process, that many of the important pieces of information get filtered out with all of the nonsense. That primitive 6th sense that used to tell us that there was a lion waiting in the Serengeti grasses is still trying to tell us that there are predators stalking us on the felt.


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