Types of Vegas grinders

I've been going to Vegas every year for the last 10 years, usually for about 4 or 5 weeks each year. Over that span I've learned how to make a preliminary categorization of players based on some of their physical traits, until they show me signs that don't fit that categorization.

I think most players are familiar with the stereotypes of the young Asian women (usually dangerous players) and what we call the "cap boys" in Spain - young American guys who have baseball caps on at the table (almost always dangerous players). But there's one type of player that people often misjudge: the old-fashioned guy wearing lots of jewelry.

You've encountered this guy, I bet. He's usually an older guy, maybe in his 40s or 50s, and he's got a ring on his finger or maybe some gold bracelets around one wrist. I don't mean WSOP bracelets, but just a typical gold bracelet. He may have his wife sitting behind him. He looks like a typical older tourist who has come to Vegas to gamble.

This guy often plays in a crazy way. He might always over-bet the pot or make other unusual moves that make you think, "Ok, this is the fish of the table." No way. In my experience, 95% of the time this guy is a seasoned grinder who knows exactly what he's doing. He's been playing for years and always uses the same bag of tricks to give other players confidence so that they make a mistake against him.


These old-fashioned guys want to seem crazy or that they play poker badly and have no idea about the game. They want to seem that they are an easy mark but it's false. That's the mask that they wear in order to get your money. They know how to play the game. They are looking for one shot. When they get it and they get the money with one of these over-bets or other unusual moves, they put the chips in a rack, stand up and say good night.

My first two years in Vegas I was duped by these guys at times. I made a snap-judgment, "Aha, this guy is a fish!", based on the guy's appearance and his strange way of playing. By the third year, however, I said "No way am I going to make the same mistake against those guys this year!" I know that they are silent assassins, just waiting for that one shot to double up and then take the money and run.

You meet lots of dangerous players at the table. As I mentioned, many of the Asian women you'll encounter and lots of the Cap Boys are players to watch out for. But you already know to watch out for them. In poker, it's the players that you don't seem like threats who might do the most damage to your bankroll!

Juan Manuel Pastor is a member of Team PokerStars Pro

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