Player typing is covered in every beginner text on poker. In most texts, some version of a 2×2 matrix ranging from tight to loose and aggressive to passive is outlined. In others, like Arnold Synder’s bible on how to play short format tournaments, The Poker Tournament Formula, a wide variety of sub-types are identified, from Ball-Cap Kids to Flush Masters. Although some writers delve into the implications of personality, the primary focus is on the playing style of these sub-types.
The general personality of other players, beyond their playing style, certainly impacts my live poker experience. I’m lucky that my primary cardroom is largely populated with very pleasant and entertaining characters. I generally treat them all well, as they do me. I’m there to have a good time and to play.
However, I have run into a few personality types at the table who test my patience and ability to hold my tongue (which sadly is not a strength of mine in general). Here are the types I find particularly troublesome:
- “Joy, Joy, Joy…..Rage” A couple of hours of pleasant, engaging conversation with this seemingly stable individual is shattered when a two-outer hits the river. While some players are chronically irritable, at least you know what you are getting into. With these players, the bait-and-switch is jarring. It always takes me a couple of hands to regain my bearings after the fist hits the felt.
- “I’m only 19, but I know more about poker than Dan Harrington and Daniel Negreanu combined” Oh the informative lectures this player will share from the pages of their most recently read poker book. They’ve mastered the words “donk” and “fish” and will explain at length how your last move was technically wrong, and likely a sign of your limited intelligence. Twenty minutes later they will make the same move, and expound upon how it was brilliantly executed in their hands.
- “I never get good cards” There are a smattering of regulars who roll their eyes at 95% of the hands they are dealt. If they are in a seat on either side of the dealer, they flash their cards to the dealer with a look of disgust and accusation. Their cards are folded with ever-increasing force. The bad news, is that you will need to work on repelling their consistent negative mojo. The good news is that their hand range is pretty easy to identify.
- “People usually walk away when I incessantly talk, but you’re cornered” Probably my most challenging type. I am fairly social at the table, so I appear open to conversation. However, I admit to getting fatigued by the manic talkers who fill 20 breathless minutes on just about any topic. Most of these people are not bad people, so I feel compelled to remain outwardly pleasant. But inside, after about an hour I am debating whether puncturing my own eardrums would be worth it just to make the noise stop.
- “I’ll have a little poker with my binge drinking, please” We have a player at our cardroom who stacks his completed beer cups in his drink holder throughout his session. Now for this guy, whose tolerance is the stuff of Roman myth, these cups scream “I am into my 7th beer and still outplaying you”! However, with most other heavy drinkers, you see the range of behaviors you’d expect: from players who forget that they are in the hand (or perhaps even in a poker room), to the sloppy “I love you man!” expressions of poker bonding, to those looking to break the tedium with a fistfight. Pray your table breaks soon.
Encountering a wide range of personalities is actually one of the things I like best about playing poker. Even the players above make it a richer experience. But I have to admit, these guys test a lot more than my poker skills.
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“Like a boss!” – Will Kassouf
As a 28 year poker playing veteran in my local card rooms, I’ve always said ” The content of a man’s character will ultimately come out at the poker table” It gets worse in some instances when you are the lone female. It’s been an adventure! Warm regards, GMB
I hear you. I feel that, as a woman, I see both the best and the worst of the mens’ behavior at the poker table.
What’s been really interesting, inclusive of both genders, are our own responses to extreme behaviors/situations that can be endemic and collectively constant in the culture. How has it changed our own character in the long term? For better or worse, for good or bad. Where are we in the continuum? Ultimately as a poker player, my standard of weight is usually am I able to optimize the situation at hand to better my position in the game? That is my criteria. I’m there to have fun yes but I’m also there to take the chips cheerfully. So, you my friend are tedious but welcome! Love you all! GMB
I agree completely. The likely more interesting examination is how other peoples’ behavior impacts and changes us. I often find myself really enjoying players that most other players don’t like very much. And the rare times I have become acutely irritated or angry it isn’t at a player rationally I think should send me on tilt.
A very common type, are the mathematically challenged players, who are always irate or whining about bad beats and getting sucked out on at the river, after their min bets have given even a one outter odds to call or a donk made a bad call and just got lucky.
I usually wait until they demonstrate it is a pattern, not just a one off and until it gets annoying before I ask:
What’s the difference between poker players and puppies?
Eventually puppies stop whining..
If live, I wait til I am victim of a bad beat, then fain whining, then smile and tell the joke.
Sometimes they get it, sometimes they don’t, but everyone else does. Well. everyone but the other puppies.
That’s a good one as well. They do think if they bet, no matter how big, you should go away because they’re ahead. Even if you are open ended with a flush draw, and they bet a quarter of the pot, they think there is great injustice when one of your 15 outs comes out on the turn.
A great deal of the attraction and entertainment value of poker for me is the endless cast of characters! What a hoot are human beings. I truly love the challenge and endless plain fun I find meeting the broadest range of individuals one can find randomly gathered. Bankers, Construction workers , housewives, high school principles students, postal workers, artists, literal billionaires and welfare recipients, all races religions and political persuasions. If you can find universal joy and acceptance at any average 1 /3 NL 2/5 NL you can mark yourself….tolerant….and at peace!
When I started watching poker on TV, before playing myself, I assumed that the amazing characters they highlighted were a function of TV selecting and creating these personas through creative editing, or that these were just unusual cases. Then I started playing and realized my local card room rivaled the World Series in how compelling the various people were, and such a cross section as you describe. I never get bored!
Most disturbing for me has been the person who is clearly over his/her head financially. They’re beyond desperate and have surpassed the threshold of pain They’ve been up for 3 days, smell bad and are fighting sleep and demons. Despite their situation, they’ve managed to remain polite In spite of being frightened and a bit overwhelmed.They’ve gotten way over their heads before they knew it and are lost and dazed. How do we find ourselves responding? Do we find ourselves hoping they are able to get “even” ? Do we find ourselves on occasion giving “air” or must we become disengaged to be able to play our “A” game. Has this put us on a different kind of tilt without even knowing it? I often wonder to what extent these scenarios have changed or define us? Hmmm…..XXOO GMB
I play in tournaments with a woman who is very nice and we have become friendly, but she is not a great poker player and often buys in and busts through multiple tournaments on a weekend day. She sometimes has ended up short of cash and borrowing her buy-in or considering whether to dip into her gas money. Her play is so loose that sometimes I want to reach across the table and prevent her from calling even in a hand against me. She’ll bust and contemplate the next tournament and I’ll suggest she call it an early evening. Just painful.
Poker is not a game for the weak of heart or for that matter for any body with one, Hugoism #13
When speaking of losing in Hugoism 13b
But in all seriousness we must protect trouble players from themselves.
I posted this under another heading and will repost here if that is OK, I don’t know how to link to the other post in March.
each state will have poker player registration.
can only buy-in through the states registry or appointed delegate which will take it’s fee (tax) on each buy in.
MAX buy in for one year will be limited to 10% of cross income for anyone making less that 50k per year.
20% for those make 50 to 150k
and 35% for everyone making more than 150k per year.
people with no income would be limited to $50 per month, ie entertainment value.
The states can lease out any part of the plan they want. or form larger collisions of states for economy of scale..
A federal protection agency would keep players from double dipping in multiple states.
all PROs would have an avatar indicating they are a pro ( make over half their income form poker, playing and indorsements). If players want to challenge them they can, but they better know something about bankroll management.
They also need to play the age and debility card. I am too freaking old to set in a casino for hours on end. But I can play from my recliner at home. I’m also a VET and earned for my freedom to spend my money the way I choose. This really tics me off.
Interesting ideas, would be nice if there were some regulatory safeguards. Bars are mandated to stop serving to those who have had too much to drink, but casinos are under no such mandate for gambling. Drinking is different obviously for public safety reasons, but protecting some people from self-destructive excess certainly is worthy of thought.