COLORFUL ENCOUNTERS OF THE POKER KIND
A live poker game can be very interesting and not just because of the action at the tables; some of the characters and personalities you will encounter can be more memorable than the game itself. There are a few who are a staple of every poker game, others are so rare it may take you years before you encounter them. Here are some of the colorful characters you might encounter at the poker table.
Description: This type of player is generally very quiet and will keep to themselves, only conversing or communicating if absolutely necessary. For some, the noise at a poker table can be distracting and makes it hard to focus on playing the game. Wearing headphones allows these types of players to focus on the task and block out all the unnecessary noise.
They will generally be hyper-focused on the action and will rarely need to be told when it's their turn to act. Most communication will be non-verbal and confined to hand gestures. Depending on the casino’s rules, they may also use a hood, hat, or glasses to hide their faces.
How to Identify Them: The headphones are a dead giveaway, most of the time they are large and cover the entire ear, but some prefer the smaller headphones that can be hidden under a shirt or jacket.
Likelihood of Seeing Them on a Scale of One (Unlikely) to Ten (Highly Likely): Seven. Headphones are a common sight at poker tables, especially in a tournament or high-stakes game.
Which Playstyles They Favor: If a player is more interested in the game rather than conversing, expect them to be better than average and competent enough to switch between all the playstyles as the situation requires. Generally, they will be one of the better players at the table. There are exceptions, of course, but on average, players with headphones should be treated with caution because they are probably pretty good at poker.
Description: These types of players just don't seem to stop talking, ever, even while in a hand. Topics include the weather, their kids, poker, the way the game is going, news events and whatever else they can flap on about to fill the silence. Most of the time the dealer will need to warn them to be quiet while an important hand is in progress.
Chatterboxes are more interested in poker's social aspect. They will usually be the ones holding up play because they are more interested in chatting than paying attention to the action. Start talking to them at your own peril; you may never get a moment of peace again. Sometimes you just need to tell them to shut their word hole. As politely as possible, of course.
How to Identify Them: They are easy enough to spot, just look for a player who won’t stop talking, even when nobody else is engaging with them.
Likelihood of Seeing Them on a Scale of One (Unlikely) to Ten (Highly Likely): Eight. You will encounter chatterbox players regularly, there seems to be at least one in every casino at every table. If you are really unlucky, you will get stuck seated with a couple of them and have to endure constant chatting about utter nonsense while you are trying to focus on the game.
Which Playstyles They Favor: Loose, tight, loose passive, loose aggressive. Generally, chatterbox players aren’t very good at poker. Because they are constantly talking, it’s difficult for them to focus on anything except what their next topic of conversation will be.
THE SILENT PRO
Description: Professional poker players can sometimes be found in lower stakes games and casinos when they are either looking for some low stakes fun, practicing, or just in town looking for a game.
How to Identify Them: Unless they are a total narcissist, most professionals won't announce their status to the table. However, they are easy to spot; a professional will most likely be calm, collected, and amass a large stack of chips with seemingly no effort. Anybody at the table who knows the statistical chance of each hand winning is most likely a professional.
Likelihood of Seeing Them on a Scale of One (Unlikely) to Ten (Highly Likely): Four. Professional poker players will generally stick to high-stakes games, or tournaments where they can make the most money. Unless you are playing in high stakes games, you are unlikely to encounter a pro on a regular basis.
Which Playstyles They Favor: All of them. A professional poker player will be better than average, even if they are only moderately successful in their career.
THE RARE FEMALE
Description: Poker games will usually have predominantly male players; female poker players are relatively rare. A few ladies’ poker championships are starting to gain more publicity, and there are plenty of famous female players, but they are still a minority in the poker world, and you are unlikely to see more than one at the poker tables.
How to Identify Them: It’s pretty self-explanatory.
Likelihood of Seeing Them on a Scale of One (Unlikely) to Ten (Highly Likely): Three. For some reason, poker is a male-dominated game, and women rarely sit down at the tables.
Which Playstyles They Favor: It varies with each individual personality.
Description: Beginners come in all shapes and sizes, and they all have one thing in common; just like a 16-year-old on prom night, they have no idea what they are doing.
How to Identify Them: A beginner will generally have very little understanding of the basic rules and make mistakes, such as forgetting to post the blinds or acting out of turn. Their hands might also shake from nerves.
Likelihood of Seeing Them on a Scale of One (Unlikely) to Ten (Highly Likely): Six. Most beginners won't come to the casino until they are more confident in their abilities, but occasionally, a few will test themselves.
Which Playstyles They Favor: All of them, but not with any competency. Beginners can be tricky to play against because their lack of knowledge makes them hard to read; they might not know that going all-in with a pair of 9s is a scary prospect when the flop opens up a straight draw. For the most part, a beginner will play very loose and rarely fold.
Description: Similar to the headphone’s player, hooded players will generally stay quiet and keep to themselves. They wear a hood to help hide their physical tells, so will probably be careful about how they interact with the rest of the table. Hats perform a similar purpose, and some people may combine them with glasses and headphones to completely block out all outside sound and try to lessen the chances that they will give off a physical tell. This can be a benefit to other players at the table if the person wearing all the gear is ugly; that can be a distraction to the other players.
How to Identify Them: Look for a quiet player with a hood, hat, glasses, headphones or all of the above; you can't miss them.
Likelihood of Seeing Them on a Scale of One (Unlikely) to Ten (Highly Likely): Six. A lot of casinos and other establishments actively discourage players from hiding their faces for security reasons; it depends on the venue.
Which Playstyles They Favor: Hooded players can be a bit of a mixed bag. Some are very skilled and wear the hood because it gives them an advantage at the tables; they will generally favor tighter playstyles. You can also encounter players who like to wear a hood because it looks cool; they will generally be beginners in hiding, in which case they will favor looser playstyles.
Description: There is always one, a player who dials up their aggression to 1000 and doesn't let up the entire game. Sometimes they do it to make a statement, as part of a broader strategy, or that's just their personality.
How to Identify Them: Easy enough to spot, they are the player who bets big every time.
Likelihood of Seeing Them on a Scale of One (Unlikely) to Ten (Highly Likely): Eight. Being overly aggressive often produces results in the short term, so a lot of players like to try it out, at least for a while. Expect to see overly aggressive players frequently.
Which Playstyles They Favor: Tight Aggressive. Loose Aggressive. Overly aggressive players won't ever take a backward step. Expect a lot of raises and big bets. If you decide to go to the river with them, make sure you have good cards, or it could be a costly game for you.
Description: No, not megastar Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, although that would be awesome. These types of players are tight beyond all reason, sometimes only playing one hand every few hours.
Generally, they will be older or retired people with nothing but time on their hands, and no real need to play if they don’t want to. They might enjoy a bit of a chat or just watching the game. The polar opposite of the aggressive player, the rock will never play anything but a sure thing.
How to Identify Them: Look for anyone who has folded every hand for a prolonged period of time.
Likelihood of Seeing Them on a Scale of One (Unlikely) to Ten (Highly Likely): Five. Tight players are fairly common, but people like this are usually regulars at one particular casino or venue.
Which Playstyles They Favor: Tight passive. Tight Aggressive. Players like this will generally play very tight and passive. However, if they get a good hand, watch out, because they will become very aggressive. It’s pretty easy to see coming though, if a player folds a hundred hands in a row, then suddenly starts betting, odds are they have good cards.
Description: Poker is a game of deception, but some players take that too literally and make up ridiculous backstories or straight up lie about their experiences to everybody at the table. These types of players will talk almost as much as the chatterbox because they need everyone to know how rich and successful they are. Some of them really should have their pants on fire from the lies they come out with.
How to Identify Them: A liar will usually dig their own grave; eventually they will slip up and make a mistake, maybe about their beach house in Malibu that they bought purely through poker winnings, or was it in Florida? The biggest giveaway will be the venue though. Why would a multi-million-dollar poker professional, who nobody has ever heard of, show up at a local club to play a $10 game? It's not impossible, but highly unlikely.
Likelihood of Seeing Them on a Scale of One (Unlikely) to Ten (Highly Likely): Five. You will encounter liars at every poker table, but the genuinely brazen ones are thankfully rare. It takes a special kind of person to openly lie about their entire life to impress a bunch of strangers they will probably never see again. We’re not saying their sociopaths, but you might want to consider carefully their offer of a ride home.
Which Playstyles They Favor: Loose and aggressive. If they are pretending to be wealthy and successful, it's unlikely they will want to be seen backing down too often. Most of the time, these players will get out first because they usually have no idea how to play poker; everything about them is a facade.
THE ONE WITH THE SUPERSTITIONS
Description: Gambling brings out a whole range of emotions in people, from joy to rage to extreme happiness to depression. It can also make people very superstitious and willing to do and believe just about anything if they think it will bring them luck and ultimately win at the tables.
Superstitious players will have jewelry, a talisman, a ritual, or a specific piece of clothing they believe helps them win. Some are actually quite good at poker, but if they lose what they think is the sole reason for them winning, they fall apart.
How to Identify Them: Superstitious players will stand out because they might stroke a necklace before each hand, or maybe they will place a lucky charm on their chip stack. More obvious displays might be praying before each hand or tapping their chin three times before each bet. On the more extreme end, a superstitious player might wear specific clothing every time, or refuse to shower or brush their teeth after a win out of fear that the good luck might wash off.
Likelihood of Seeing Them on a Scale of One (Unlikely) to Ten (Highly Likely): Nine. Players who believe in and magical items that bring good luck are relatively common. Some are hard to spot, but you will most likely have one during every poker session.
Which Playstyles They Favor: Tight Passive. Tight Aggressive. Superstitious Players will generally stick to one style and will very rarely be adaptable. It makes them easy to predict, but also very dangerous because they are patient enough to wait for the right cards.
Description: Some poker players love to put on a show. They might wear extravagant clothing to make them stand out or be so loud they can be heard from anywhere in the casino. Showboats will try to make the most significant impact possible, and often greet each player individually when they join the table. These types of players are a lot of fun, provided you aren't there to have a serious poker game. They might start cracking jokes, telling crazy stories, or just generally trying to be the center of attention.
How to Identify Them: You will see them or hear them coming from a mile away.
Likelihood of Seeing Them on a Scale of One (Unlikely) to Ten (Highly Likely): Four. Showboats players are a rarity nowadays because casinos usually try to discourage antics that disrupt the establishment and other players' enjoyment. You might still encounter one, but they will most likely be forced to tone down their loud personality.
Which Playstyles They Favor: Tight loose. Loose. Passive loose. Showboat players generally play pretty loose because it suits their personality and desire to be the center of attention. If they stop cracking jokes, or suddenly go quiet, take note because they might have just been dealt a monster hand.
THERE ARE MORE OUT THERE
These are plenty more colorful characters who you might encounter during your time at the poker tables. When you sit down, take a moment to have a look around and check out who you are playing against. Poker seems to bring out all sorts of characters, and you can meet some truly interesting people who will give you some truly memorable moments.
Which poker player are you?
This is a reference article to poker characters one might find at the poker table in general. It is for information and entertainment only. It is not related to, nor a reflection of, Global Poker, its views, opinions, products, content, or its games.