Like the rest of the world, poker advanced through a new millennium, and it does so with the baggage of previous
centuries. Poker used to be the exclusive habitat of cigar-chomping men, playing "a man's game." No more. Rather than just
ignore, or accept, or begrudge, or even celebrate the integration of public poker, thoughtful players should focus on what's really
important: where the money is in this, and how we, both men and women, can get some of it.
Mirroring most any male majority group in society, the poker world is overrun with a lot of demeaning sexism and sexist attitudes. I'm
not going to focus on the politics of that. I want to talk about the profit.
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Many men simply refuse to accept the fact that women as a group play poker more successfully than men do. That doesn't mean women
overall aren't losers. Of course they are. The nature of the game is that the group of all players lose the house
rake -- women just lose less per capita than men. While it's
true that among the top players men are represented disproportionately, the disproportionate advantage there doesn't come close to
compensating for the lousy play of the mass of men. And, as more women start playing poker at a younger age, the disproportion of men
at the top will dwindle -- at least as long as so many men remain arrogant, macho dipsticks.
Let's assume 80% of
poker players in cardrooms are men. Among the group of tremendously awful, huge long-term losers, far more than 80% are men, probably
over 95%. At the same time, in the group of the most successful players, less than 20% are women, probably under 5%. However, if as in
a diving competition, we throw out the top and bottom numbers and look at the middle group, the mass of women players -- most playing
tightish, non-hormonal poker -- do far better than the mass of men, a great many of whom let ego, machismo and testosterone effect
their play dramatically. The group of mediocre long-term losers is proportionally higher in men.
Which gender has a higher capacity to memorize logarithms counts for little in poker. What counts is how a person plays in the heat of
battle. Men bring all sorts baggage to the table that counteracts any possible genetic
mathematical advantages that some insist exist: they drink
more, they smoke more, they eat more --- and they let their egos get in the way of how they play far, far more. In most circumstances,
men blindly throw themselves into things without thought or
study far more than women. So it goes in poker. Many
male players misuse what should be a winning asset, aggression, particularly when they play against female players.
So, how can we use this to put money in our pockets? How does knowing this help our poker game?
For women the answer is simpler. They need to understand their gender virtually always matters. In each individual hand, many male
opponents will relate to them in terms of their gender rather than the cards they hold. So, non-card based strategies are more
important to women than men! A youngish woman for instance should build a game strategy based on knowing that she will often be
flirtingly softplayed, while other men will often try to run over her. A soft-spoken older woman needs to realize she is going to
bluffed constantly. Each female player needs to understand the universe she actually is in, the universe the bulk of male players put
her in, and build her counter-strategy with that in mind.
Male players need to treat women the same as they do other men. Showing off, flirting, softplaying, over-aggression... these all are
the road to the front door of the poorhouse.
And then comes the complex part.
There is money to be made by playing off any male-female dynamic at a table. For instance, if some normally aggressive preflop-raising
liveone is not raising whenever a woman he's flirting with enters a pot, but is still wildly splashing chips post-flop, it makes sense
to take advantage of these cheaper opportunities with speculative hands that could well win a nice pot from the liveone. Or,
especially in a tournament situation, if you recognize an apparently very tight female is in the big blind, and some man raises whom
you guess might be thinking he can run over her blind, then this is a prime "three bet with anything" opportunity.
Almost every hand offers similar tactical advantages if you look for them. Sexual politics calls for situational adaptation, even at
the poker table!
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