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I haven’t been doing very well in my poker endeavors lately, but that has given me the chance to watch the other players more closely. Since I normally play sit-n-go tournaments, the play is much different than it is with a ring game playing with chips instead of cash.

Everyone has a screen name (mine is not capricorn cringe) and some people have a picture as their icon (I don’t), which can make it hard to tell if you’re playing against men or women. But in poker, just like everything else, men and women are polar opposites and if you know what to look for, you can easily tell them apart.

In a tournament, some people type “good luck everyone” or maybe just “gl” or “gle.” Some people respond “thanks, you too” or “gl 2 u 2” Those people are women, almost exclusively. I would go so far as to say that the only time a man says it is to make you think he’s a woman. Men don’t wish you luck, they wish to crush you.

If you win a hand, you might see “nh” or “vnh” – that’s shorthand for nice hand or … you get the idea. Again, women do that. Men rarely congratulate you for beating them.

Most men don’t “talk” at the table. For one thing, they usually aren’t skilled with the keyboard and it takes too long. When they do talk, you know it’s a man because he berates you for being a “donkey” if you happen to luck out and hit a flush … or maybe just two pair. Doesn’t matter what the hand is, if he doesn’t like it and he’s annoyed enough, he will yell at you for being stupid – after you just took half his chips.

If men aren’t trash talking you after a bad beat, they complain about their hands. Let’s say he goes all in with AK suited. That’s not a bad move if you’re short-stacked. But let’s say I have a pair of 4’s and it doesn’t cost me that much of my stack to call him. True, there is about a 35% chance* of the other players having a higher pair, but in my world, the other players folded and it’s just me and him. In that case, the odds are much higher in my favor. Then let’s say nothing else hits the board. No more (or not enough) of his suit to get a flush, no Aces, no Kings. I win with my little pair. When I read, “That’s bullshit!” – I know it’s a man. Women bitch about a lot of things, but they don’t bitch much about losing to a better hand. In fact, if that was a woman, she would have said, “VNH!”

Men try to be smart about poker. Poker odds and probability is pure math. I don’t like math. I can figure out the odds of getting dominated by a higher pocket pair (number of higher pairs * number of players / 2) but that’s about as far as it goes for me. So sometimes I’ll call with 9-10 suited just because it looks pretty. Here’s a secret: I’m not the only woman who does that.

Women will play crazy cards just for fun, just because it might work out. It is an option to show your cards if you win a hand without a showdown, but most people don’t. I do sometimes. I sometimes show my little 6-5 offsuit … and I sometimes show pocket Queens. Because I want you to know that I don’t always do the right thing. Right after I show you a hand I should never have called with, much less raised with, I won’t play crappy cards again. But you don’t know that for sure, do you?

And that’s the main difference between men and women: women rely on luck and bullshit a lot more than men do. In poker and in life.

*I got the odds of that hand from this site because even after 4 math classes, I still can’t calculate odds properly or balance my checkbook.

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