Whether you are playing online poker or a live poker tournament, you will encounter players using a wide range of styles, drawing on whatever strategy suits them best. But wherever you go, players tend to fall into types. It doesn’t matter if you are playing in Las Vegas, London, Brazil or cyberspace, you’re sure to come across the table captain, an action junkie, a silent assassin, or the bad beat magnet.
Here we take a look at some of these individuals, united by their love of poker.
The Table Captain
Table captains ensure a smooth-running game. They are sticklers for poker rules and etiquette. The table captain is often the elder at the table, who moderates the discussion and will try to change the subject if things get a little too boisterous. It’s their decades of wisdom that puts them in a universal position of respect and power. The best table captains are encouraging like a coach, but many run a tight ship, so don’t get on their bad side. The captain can be as traditionally powerful as a high-end attorney or as unlikely as a listless lunch lady in primary school. Captains are often amateur jurists who will enthusiastically adjudicate low-level disagreements, especially about sports trivia.
The Happy Noob
You can spot a beginner from a mile away. They are glowing and proudly wearing poker schwag. They often use recently-learned lingo. Most of all, they absolutely love the game and are not shy about it. No one loves poker more than noobs. Everyone remembers the honeymoon period when they fell in love with poker for the first time and want to play it every waking moment. It’s always fun to play with new players because their excitement is real and infectious. As the saying goes, “Ignorance is bliss.”
The Action Junkie
Every profitable table has someone who induces the action. The action junkie can be a loose-playing whale with deep pockets who enjoys splashing around chips or an adrenaline junkie who craves intensity. Instead of jumping out of airplanes, they’re raising your big blind. Once in a while you encounter an opponent who is outright crazy, thriving on chaos.
The Know-It-All Chatterbox
The American TV sitcom Cheers had Cliff Clavin, a know-it-all mail carrier who often irked the fellow bar patrons with obscure history lessons and long-winded stories about nothing. Sure, sometimes the person who knows random trivia (e.g. who scored the most goals in the 1978 World Cup) can be mildly entertaining during a boring session. However, it can become utter torture to sit next to an insufferable know-it-all who will not shut up. When the table discussion delves into genealogy and the names of every direwolf from Game of Thrones, it’s the ideal time to put on those headphones or mute the chatbox.
The Wannabe Pro
It’s important to have goals and aspirations, especially in poker. The wannabe pro isn’t quite there yet. Maybe they will never fully realize their dreams, or simply don’t have all the proper off-the-felt skills to get there. They are not hard to miss. They know every line of dialogue from Rounders.
They talk a good game, stream all their online sessions, favorite Daniel Negreanu’s tweets, and dress like the pros you see on TV. Style only takes you so far, especially at the poker table. Substance pays the bills.
The Silent Assassin
The opposite of a wannabe or poseur is an actual pro. These are the professional snipers who knock you out of a tournament before you ever see it coming. Like special forces, they are highly skilled and often operate in the shadows. They swiftly move in and out of danger zones with precision. They are the opposite of James Bond. You won’t find them in a tuxedo, but most likely in a hoodie. They seek to blend in without drawing attention to themselves.
They never waste energy in the chatbox and thrive on anonymity because nothing is more dangerous than a shark that hides in plain sight.
The Bad Beat Bens and Beckys
Bad beats are a part of poker. They happen all the time. If you cannot handle a bad beat, then you should not be playing poker. The best players in the world have a Zen-like attitude and try to forget bad beats as soon as they happen. Pros can take a wicked beat in their stride and remain focused on the task at hand. When you live in the present and focus on the moment, you will not be terrorized by that nasty one-outer you took five hands earlier thanks to the super-loose Swede in seat 1. It’s tough enough to maintain your own mental stability at the tables, but it can be torture sitting next to a bad beat magnet. Unfortunately, no one likes to sit next to a constant complainer. Poker rooms all over the world have their share of Bad Beat Bens and Beckys. They have a long list of bad beats and past grievances that they will be happy to share with you. Don’t be a Bad Beat Becky!
The Jaded Vet
The jaded vet is often the jokester at the table, but their jokes are drenched in sarcasm and deeply-rooted poker trauma. They have a constant dreary disposition about the world and always get their pocket aces cracked. The vets have been around the block enough times that they’ve seen everything. They played cards back in the outlaw days and knew Devilfish on a first-name basis. They experienced multiple poker booms and could regale you with tales about going busto to robusto and back again. Nothing impresses a jaded vet, especially the young kid from Germany who binked another high roller for millions. There’s a fine line between a jaded vet and a hater. At some point you ask the lifers, “If you hate poker so much, why are you still playing?” They will respond, “I ask myself that same question every day!”
Like the Nirvana song says, “Just because you’re not paranoid, don’t mean they’re not after you.” There’s always one person in the poker room who has watched one too many online conspiracy videos. They’re constantly talking about reptilian shapeshifters and the Illuminati. So, it’s not uncommon for those tin-foil-hat wearing players to spout absurd theories at the tables about why online poker is rigged and how many motherships are hiding behind the dark side of the moon.