The game of poker is not just about navigating the cards, but also navigating the players on your table. As you never really know who you’ll come across at the felt, I’ve always enjoyed observing people’s behaviour and what makes them tick. Heck, there’s definitely a sitcom in it.
Over my years playing, I’ve come across numerous “player types” and a least a dozen come to mind right now. Here, then, is a list of 12 types of people you might come into contact with at the poker table.
BAD BEAT STORYTELLERS
We all experience them! Some of us choose to suffer in silence and move on; however, there are those who feel the need to get it off their chest and tell the world about their tale of woe – I’m talking about the bad beat storytellers.
I’ve always wondered why there’s a tendency to only remember the bad times despite there being many good times. You could win big playing at an online casino like this one, but more often than not you’ll tend to remember those times you just couldn’t manage to hit the right cards. It could just be we want someone to say we’re wonderful.
The worst thing you can do when someone approaches you looking agitated, angry or forlorn, is to ask them, ‘tell me what happened’. You have now given the green light to have your ear chewed off Evander Holyfield style.
It’s around five seconds later when the eyeballs start slowly rolling towards the back of your head that you’ve realised what you’ve done. You are now trapped.
One way I combat this is visualising a quartet of violins playing as the person recalls how he just got one-outed.
An accessory I always keep on hand that helps me repel bad beat story tellers is a pair of headphones. Once they’re on, nothing can penetrate my ears.
Now, I’ve always been a marketing ideas sort of person and the poker community is a big user of headphones. If Apple is reading this, then if they want to break into this huge market, they should a release a pair of Bad Beats by Dr Dre. I think they’d sell a million!
I WOULD’VE WON THE HAND IF I PLAYED
Most of us are all smart after the fact. Even Frank Sinatra had regrets, but then again, too few to mention.
Poker is all about making the right decisions in the here and now and being comfortable with the decision you made despite what might happen post-flop.
I’ve played with people who will fold 93 off-suit after a 3 and 4-bet, which is a perfectly good fold. You’d probably have to be a huge banana to call that.
The board might come out 33927 and then Mr. Smarty Pants who made a no-brainer fold preflop tells the table, ‘you would’ve lost – I would’ve flopped a boat’.
A number of times I’ve taken down a pot only to be told by another opponent that they would’ve rivered a flush, only for me to retort: “yeah but you folded… so what’s your point?”
Generally, these players are more prone to tilt so there’s an opportunity to take advantage of that.
HIT & RUN
I once called over a supervisor and told him with a straight face that he needed to call the police straight away. He looked back at me with some trepidation and asked what happened? I proceeded to tell him there’d been a hit and run. After a few seconds, the table and supervisor started laughing.
THE TABLE CHANGER
Another frustrating player to play against is the table changer. This is the person that chips up only to change tables and buy back in for the minimum. One rule in place at my local casino is that you have to be at a table for a minimum of 45 minutes before you’re allowed to change tables.
READ MORE: Top 10 Reasons for Cash Game Players to Request a Seat Change
Things don’t often pan out for the person changing tables. I remember a player chipping down from $900 to $100, only to then burn through eight buy-ins. There is a huge advantage having a big stack at a table. If you’re worried about losing it, then book the profit and play again another time.
THIS IS MY LAST HAND
Always be wary of the player who shoves all-in saying they’re going home, because it’s most likely they have a monster. I also find some players who say, ‘this is my last hand’ are still playing three-hours later. It’s a bit like Elton John announcing a farewell tour with 300 concert dates over two years.
WINS A BIG POT AND HIDES FOR HALF-AN-HOUR
I remember playing with someone who was notorious for winning a big pot then disappearing for around 20 minutes to go play blackjack and roulette before returning; winning a big hand and doing the same thing all over again.
One time I devised a plan to teach him a lesson. I managed to get the table to agree that when he returned, we’d all get up and wander away for five minutes. I think the message got through.
There’s generally a waiting list of people wanting to play poker, so if you don’t want to play, then don’t. Players like to play with a full table, not one that has three or four players missing at a time.
THE SUPERSTITIOUS PLAYER
Did I tell you the story about a friend of mine who was so superstitious, he got into a lift with 13 strippers and pressed the alarm button?!
Superstition has always fascinated me, particularly in poker. For instance, I’ve always chosen my seat based on whether I can have a clear view of the sport on television.
Many experts will say seat selection is one of the most important parts of the game. It has do with the type of players to your left or right, rather than if the seat is lucky or not.
The only time I’ve run with something remotely superstitious was calling an all-in with 88 on Chinese New Year. I proceeded to flop quads. Of course, in Chinese culture the number 8 is associated with luck. Naturally, I’ll only pull that move off once a year.
If you sit down at the table, you’ll see some players with a lucky chip card protector, trinkets or a piece of lucky bling. The point is you win at poker by making good decisions. Superstition dictates that those decisions are being left to other forces which you have no control over. Often, superstitious players tend to believe that you can win at poker without studying. To each their own…
I recall playing with a person who literally sat out for 45 minutes because they claimed a certain dealer was unlucky. I don’t think she won too many hands with the next dealer either. Sometimes it’s just not your night. Or, perhaps, you’re just not as good as you think you are!
WON’T CHANGE THE CHIPS
Sometimes when you arrive at a table you need to change your big chip into smaller chips, so you’ll throw it to a player to change-up. There are some players who will adamantly refuse to change their stack as they feel it is bad luck.
You’ll often hear a player throw a big chip to a player who has just won a big pot and say: ‘can you give me some of your lucky chips’. To me, they’ve just placed a target on themselves.
When you’re down to your last card you might hear a player yell, ‘one time!’ in the hopes of getting lucky. If it works then you’ll hear them say it again and again. Mentally, I’m generally packed up and half-way out the door by the turn, so if I ever get lucky on the river it’s a nice surprise.
THE POKER COACH
In poker you have to lose with class, but more importantly win with class. I’ve seen a type of player at the table who will not only win the hand but proceed to explain to the loser of the hand how he/she should’ve played it, or how much of a terrible player they are. The player on the receiving end didn’t take it that well.
This is a family-friendly poker media site, but let’s just say the person did a pretty good Gordon Ramsay impression.
I guess if they’re that good they’d be playing $5/10/20 rather than $1/2…
This is the player I fear the most. The reason being is that the ‘THE DRUNK’ has no fear. They’ll play any two cards, call any bet and usually get super lucky. You sit there gobsmacked at how they do it. These people absolutely kill it at the table – or is that Tequila?
You can spot the drunk a mile off. Their chips are usually in a mess in front of them, the dealer usually will say ‘are you awake boss?’ Most of the time they don’t even know what chips they’re putting in the pot.
To quote Erik Lindgren after the 2008 WSOP HORSE event which Scotty Nguyen won: “Some nights you just can’t beat a drunk.”