Main Menu
No.(2) (3) (4)
No.(5) (6) (7)
No.(8) (9) (10)
No.11 12 13
No.14 15 16
No.17 18 19
No.20 21 22
No.23 24 25
In Association with
Play now at the William Hill Casino
  | Home   | Index   | Info   | This Week   | Poker   | News   | Email
07/10/2005 No.18
he Guardian Poker Column
Victoria Coren
Friday October 7, 2005
Email : TheEditor on any subject.
How to play poker
(How to play has been running from issue 16)

With poker, as with all big things (work, marriage, suicide attempts), there is no point thinking about what you're going to do until you know what you're going to wear.

This may sound trivial. It isn't. There is no real need to play live poker these days, with all those internet options, but if you are keen to try a face-to-face game then you must think about your "table image": your appearance may give away clues before you even pick up a hand.

There is a fashion among modern players for wearing sunglasses at the table, with a low-brimmed baseball cap and an iPod to block out conversation. Why stop there? Perhaps you should go the whole hog: turn up at the game in a balaclava, stuff your fingers in your ears and sing the national anthem loudly throughout. Like an IRA member with doubts.

I do sympathise with the logic of hiding. But good players are not looking for "fear in your eyes", as the movies may tell you. They are looking for betting patterns. They are looking to see which cards you favour; when you raise, when you call. They want to know whether you play aggressively, passively or hopefully. All the sunglasses in the world won't mask this key information.

Besides, your opponents will guess as much from the iPod and shades as they would from the "tells" you are trying to disguise. Such props reveal that you are a relatively new player, potentially nervous, and perhaps more familiar with online and TV poker than the live game. This helps a clever opponent to know how you might play.

If you wear a plain sports shirt and jeans, with no facial furniture, you look far more anonymous. If you fear that you might give away tells, forget trying to hide and concentrate on standardising your behaviour. Either sip your drink every time you make a bet, or never. Either talk throughout a hand (good cards or bad) or don't talk at all. Raise exactly the same amount, whether you have a pair of aces or a pair of twos.

Keep it plain, simple, and regular. That'll fox 'em.


The Editor's WSOP Reports