Can Your IQ Affect How You Play Poker Online?

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BetMGM Oct 20, 2023, 4:54 AM

How smart do you have to be to win at poker? As with so many things in poker, it depends. That’s because there are all kinds of smarts, each with its own part to play when it comes to winning in both conventional and online poker. These include practical, creative, and analytical intelligence, which is commonly known as IQ and is the focus of this blog. Does your IQ score make a difference to your poker game? Yes and no. Let’s unpack what that means.

Defining IQ

IQ is short for “intelligence quotient,” and it measures a person’s ability to reason. In general, your IQ reflects how well you can use logic and information to answer questions and make predictions. In other words, it’s a numerical ranking of how smart you are. To get your number, you have to take an IQ test. Created in France more than a century ago to help identify which students needed more support at school, IQ tests gauge your short- and long-term memory in addition to your ability to solve problems and recall information. This aspect is called “fluid intelligence.” For example, an IQ test may ask you to figure out what a shape would look like if it were rotated. Fluid intelligence is about the “aha” moment you get when you join the dots to see the bigger picture.

Genius-Level Poker Skills

It goes without saying that it doesn’t hurt to have a high IQ if you want to succeed in poker. That’s because it takes above-average mathematical and logical reasoning skills to consistently win and make money from the game. A case in point is Canadian star Daniel Negreanu, who took the demanding Mensa high-IQ test in 2020. An IQ of 132 or higher is the passing grade, with 100 being the national average. To pass the Mensa test is quite an achievement, and Negreanu was obviously very pleased when he tweeted, “I decided to take the test to become a Mensa member and I ACED IT! Eat somma that!!!!”

Another world-class poker player (now retired) who also belongs to Mensa is Liv Boeree, who describes herself as “a self-confessed nerd with a first-class degree in astrophysics.” Boeree’s scientific background and competitive spirit helped her to become one of the most famous names in professional poker. She was the top female player from 2014 to 2016 and holds the championship titles for the European Poker Tour and WSOP, with career winnings of $4 million.

It Doesn’t Take a Genius

Only 2% of any population has an IQ high enough to pass the Mensa bar. That doesn’t mean that you need an above-average “genius level” IQ to play poker online. The fact is that intelligence alone can only take a player so far. A person with a high IQ will probably acquire fundamental poker skills faster than most, but that’s only the beginning. After all, decisions in poker aren’t always about logical deduction and reasoning. True, a mathematical knowledge of the odds is essential, but other information is also at play. And that information is limited.

In a game such as chess, players compete on the basis of complete information. All there is to know is already available to them at the beginning of the game, so victory or defeat is purely a matter of logic and training. In poker games, by contrast, mathematical information is limited to what the cards reveal, which is down to chance. (“Poker is 100% skill and 50% luck,” says Phil Hellmuth, author of Play Poker Like The Pros, one of the best poker books to improve strategic thinking). To make matters worse, wily opponents try to feed us false data (otherwise known as bluffing) while we leak information to them, which they use to manufacture more false information. Ultimately, the ability to adjust to their opponents on the basis of the limited information available is what gives winning players the edge.

Adapting to New Information

What does adapting to information mean in practice? It’s all about thinking in ranges. Here’s an example. Say you’re playing an opponent who bets very frequently in a specific situation. This imbalanced betting strategy is important information that you can use to exploit this opponent. It’s telling that they can’t always have a strong hand when they’re in that spot. As a result, you can adapt by widening your range when they bet. In other words, you can allow yourself to bet and call with looser hand strengths. Conversely, a player who tends to bet very seldom and usually only when they have strong hands is informing you that you should tighten up your range.

As Fedor Holz writes, “Once you feel really confident about your fundamentals, you can take all these different pieces of information and start adjusting your strategy. There is so much potential for you to take in all these different things that your opponents will voluntarily share at the tables and make them work for you.”

Widen Your Range of Online Poker Possibilities at BetMGM

World champion golfer Gary Player once remarked, “The harder I practice, the luckier I get.” The same applies to poker. The more you play poker games online, the more information you get to raise your game. For unlimited opportunities to develop your full potential, register at BetMGM. Get your hand in any time on our mobile app for a broad range of cash games and poker tournaments with stakes and buy-ins to suit every level of skill. Play the game your way at BetMGM! 

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Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.