Every time you return to the live poker world after a spell of only playing online, you’re reminded of all those terrible, terrible habits you can’t avoid.
Sure, some of those habits are your own, but I’m mostly talking about your tablemates’ tendency to wind you up, often without even realising it.
There will always be some things you dislike about online play, and the lack of human interaction is probably one of them, but it’s remarkable how quickly the scales tip and you start to wonder whether sitting in silence with only yourself for company might be preferable after all.
Here’s a selection of the sort of thing that might have tested your patience on more than one occasion recently.
The Overfamiliar ‘New Friend’
This person will ask your name during the first hand where you find yourself heads-up with them, and you’ll start out suspicious of their motives. Do they remember you from a previous tournament? Have they been researching everyone at their table and hoping to put a face to a name? No, it’s neither of these things. You can’t think of a fake name or a good enough reason to ignore them, so you comply.
It turns out they just want to use your name as punctuation, which would be bad enough if they were only doing so when in a pot with you, repeating your name seven times to try to get a live-read, but it happens with every pot. They’ll regularly turn to you for approval, sometimes even appearing to ask you for advice (you have to nip this in the bud very early), and they inevitably turn out to be the most irritating and talkative person at the table. This means, even worse than them thinking you’re their friend, other people think this too.
The “I put you on ace-king” Guy
There’s no harm in patting yourself on the back after winning a big pot, but a little variety wouldn’t go amiss.
There’s a certain type of player, and you have an image of him in your head already, who has a rotation of three stock catchphrases, to the point that you think there must be a poker newbie class where they are taught nothing else.
These phrases? “I’ll give you a gamble”, “I call you all in” (used exclusively when betting, not calling, for some reason), and “I put you on ace-king”. For years, scientists have tried to figure out why the last of these will be used even when they have a hand that can’t actually beat ace-king, but no one has had any luck to date.
You know this guy knows poker because he knows all the nicknames. And by ‘all the nicknames’, we mean ‘all the nicknames from the mid-2000s’. They’ll confidently run through hands from the 2006 WSOP main event as if it happened yesterday, and no one (a) remembers them well enough to correct them or (b) is even listening that closely. In this situation, you probably just need to put your headphones on and ride it out. Much like their story, they’re not going to be going anywhere.
The In-Hand Talker
You’ve decided to get creative, cold four-betting with junk to get heads-up with a weaker player, and a paired flop is helping your cause. Or at least it was, until the guy who three-bet-folded takes the opportunity to bellow that he folded a jack. Oh, and he repeated it, just in case anyone didn’t hear.
You can’t even bring yourself to get visibly angry – you know he simply doesn’t know any better; to kick off at him would be akin to hitting a puppy, and no one wants to be known as the puppy hitter.
The Backseat Driver
The one player per hand rule is there for a reason, but that doesn’t stop them. Motivations can vary here – sometimes the backseat driver will want to keep a novice in the game, sometimes it’ll be connected to the overfriendliness aspect, but it’ll usually take the same format.
Just as someone’s about to lay down their hand, a voice will come out of nowhere telling them they have to call. Sometimes they’ll even have a lengthy explanation of pot odds to accompany this. No one gets any benefit from this – not even the player who’s being helped, because…well, who enjoys being patronised in any environment?
If in doubt, stick to the mantra of ‘get it quietly’. As tempting as it can be to over-celebrate – and the pot may mean a lot to you in isolation or in the context of a tournament – whenever there’s a winner there’s also a loser.
You want to avoid doing anything you wouldn’t want to be on the other side of, and that includes rubbing it in the face of someone who’s just lost a big pot. Unless they fit into one of the above categories, in which case go nuts!
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- nataliya semenenko
- sergey kolesnikov
- Ben Stinton
- Stuart Fox
- Colin Andrews