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Study Says An Elevated Level Of Testosterone Is Terrible For Your Poker Game

Research Focused On Hormone's Effect On Bluffing

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Maybe women are naturally better at poker.

A recent article, dubbed “Effects of Testosterone Administration on Strategic Gambling in Poker Play”, published by the prestigious journal Nature, laid out evidence that higher testosterone levels could negatively affect a person’s ability to win at poker.

The study was done on a group of 20 women, all between the ages of 19 and 26, wherein across two sessions each had temporarily elevated levels of testosterone or were given a placebo. The experiment featured heads-up poker and focused on the art of bluffing.

Could the results suggest it’s just a matter of time before a woman wins the WSOP main event? Not quite, but the findings were nonetheless somewhat interesting.

The study did find that “after testosterone administration participants, bluffing becomes more exploitable by the opponent, as bluffing is more strongly dependent on hand value and consistent with that, cold bluffing decreases. Thus, testosterone administration induces players to revert to a less profitable strategy.”

Contrary to popular belief, the hormone might actually make it harder to run that three-barrel bluff. “Cold bluffing” was defined as the time you bluff with complete air.

The study also found that you’re more likely to be a calling station with elevated levels of testosterone, given the hormone’s apparent ability to increase status-seeking behaviors, despite the clear disadvantages that they yield.

Why did the study only feature women?

“We exclusively recruited women because the critical parameters (quantity and time course) for inducing neurophysiological effects after sublingual administration of testosterone are known in women but not in men,” the researchers said.