God Bless Men
Contrary to popular sentiment, as a woman playing this great game of poker you have a distinct advantage over your male counterparts. You might think it's due to your clearly superior brain. Perhaps you attribute it to your ability to multi-task. You might even think that your edge comes simply from your more intuitive nature. Yes, all those are qualities inherent in women, but, no, that is not what I am thinking of. The true genesis of your advantage comes from the mere fact that you are a woman.
What on earth could I mean by "the mere fact that you are a woman?" Well, there is an interesting phenomenon that occurs when you put a woman at a poker table—and all you men out there should be paying close attention to this: Some men become unhinged—they forget they are playing a ruthless game in which emotion should be separated from strategy. They forget that the gender of one's opponent should make no difference in how one should play the game. And that is a good thing for all us girls.
So for your poker pleasure, here are two types of men you might encounter at the table and the ways to profit from them:
1) The Flirter: Yes, you will meet a lot of flirters at the table. These are men who can't get past the fact that, when confronted with a woman, they begin to think with the wrong part of their bodies. They see cleavage or a short skirt rather than an opponent. They see you as a romantic conquest. They see you having cocktails with them.
Profit from these guys—and I don't mean go out on a date with them (unless you really want to). If, and only if, you are comfortable with it, you should flirt right back at them. Engage them. Let them think they have a chance with you. Let them think that flirting with them is the most fun you have had at a poker table in years.
What will this get you? Bets saved. These guys don't want to take your money: they want to take you on a date. So they will often not raise you when they should. They will not put the kind of pressure on you they should. They won't bluff as often as they should. And sometimes they will go so far as to out and out tell you when you are beat. Oh, the number of times in my early career that I had a guy say, "Honey, don't call, I have a flush." And then show me his cards.
All those bets you save by being friendly with your flirter is money earned. And money earned—well, now, isn't that the whole goal of poker?
2) The Angry Chauvinist: Poker is the classic old boys' game, right? Men go to their Wednesday Night game to escape the ball and chain at home, right? Sad as it is, there are certainly men out there that do and, when confronted with "the old lady" at the poker table, these kinds of men get bent out of shape. They are offended by your mere presence at the table. I mean, how dare a woman invade their male sanctuary and have the audacity to sit down at the table and ruin their good time?
You can really profit from this type. They are angry that you are there. If you are comfortable with it, antagonize them. Giggle girlishly when you win pots. Check-raise them at every opportunity. Show them your bluffs. The mere fact that you are there already pisses them off, so piss them off more.
What will this get you? Extra bets! Men like this don't want a girl to beat them; they want to show you who's boss. They will bluff you too often. They will call you too often. So play value poker against these guys. Run the nuts into them. They will be calling stations against you. Make sure you call them down more often than another opponent since, make no mistake, these guys are trying to bluff you much more than they should be.
All those extra bets, those extra bluffs that you call down, the extra bets that they pay off on the river because they don't want to lose to a chick: those extra bets are money earned. And, again, isn't that the whole goal of poker?
Now, having said all this, be aware that you will find fewer men who fall into these traps as you move up in limits. As the limits get higher, you encounter more and more pros, and the pros tend to have more control over these aspects of their personalities. But although there are fewer of them, you still will find men like this at any limit you play.
I hope for the men out there that you have taken notes and that this will improve your game as much as it improves the games of the women out there reading this.
Annie Duke is the most dominant female force in the poker world today. The all-time leading female money winner at the World Series of Poker, she's also the only woman to win two major poker tournaments in a single year, 2004, when she won the $2500 buy-in limit Texas Hold'em event at the Bellagio Five Star World Poker Classic and the $2000 buy-in
eight-or-better clash at the WSOP.
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