“Wow you got your money in great there, nice suck out fish!”
Ever hear this or similar tirades from a player who looks like his head is going to explode?
Don’t be that guy; it will hurt your image and your wallet. Here are some ways in which the comment above can have devastating consequences on your winnings at the poker table.
- The “Fish” Leaves
That’s right. Dinner just swam away. Criticizing your opponent for their bad play made them so uncomfortable that they left the table leaving you with less potential chips to earn from a bad player.
Many recreational poker players expect to lose money when they come to the poker table to enjoy themselves. They think of poker as ‘gambling’ and hope to win not through skill but rather by getting lucky. But you, Mr. Negative just ruined the experience for them and now they have left the table. No matter how bad their play was, your play of opening your big mouth, was worse.
- The “Fish” Leaves and Now you are the Fish.
Has it ever occurred to you that maybe, just maybe, you aren’t as good at this game as you think? For 99% of poker players (yes even the self-proclaimed professionals) this is true. Poker is not about being the best, it is about playing against opponents who are worse than you.
When you berate an opponent for his or her bad play and that player leaves, you suffer the primary consequence of losing that player and the secondary consequence of potentially making yourself the new “bad player” at the table. When a skilled player notices someone react emotionally after losing a big hand, they are more likely to target that player as they may not be thinking clearly. Don’t paint a target on your back by losing the table fish.
- Don’t Give out Free Tools
Meet old man Sam who walks into MGM Casino in Las Vegas and sits next to you. Sam is a special player because he only plays pocket AA. So Sam sits in his chair very quietly for two hours until you raise AK for $10 and Sam immediately sticks in his entire chip stack for $180. Everyone else folds and the action is back on you. You chuckle, show Sam your hole cards and fold. When Sam asks you why you folded, you make a comment about how bad Sam plays and that you know he has AA.
A week later Sam sits down to your left again only this time, he is playing about 15% of his hands, and making reasonable sized raises. You aren’t sure if Sam is raising with AA or 22 and now he is much more difficult to play against. When you ask Sam why he changed his strategy he tells you, “Well you said I was a bad player, so I got myself some coaching so I can start taking your money.”
Are you still sitting there chuckling?
- Soft Playing your Friends
“Wanna check it down?”
When I see two players repeatedly playing soft against each other at the table it makes me wonder if there could be collusion at the table. What does that mean? Think about it this way. If Suzy is in a hand with you and your friend Al and Al bets half pot, Suzy folds, and you call, then proceed to check the rest of the hand down, how is Suzy going to feel when she figures out Al was bluffing and you had a draw? She’s going to feel cheated! If you are going to play with your friends at the table, then make it fun for everyone. Play the same way against your buddy as you would against Suzy.
- Blaming the Dealer
“You just had to put the ace out there didn’t you?” A menacing regular glowers at the dealer with gritted teeth before finally throwing his hole cards at her face and paying his opponent $100.
I saved the worst for last. Dealers are low wage employees of the casinos relying heavily on their tips to make a decent living. They do not influence card distribution or have any control over Flops, Turns and/or Rivers; so verbally abusing them isn’t just mean it is completely illogical. By creating a negative playing environment you can expect to slow down the game, upset the dealer and possibly be barred from the casino. All these outcomes can have a negative expectation on the dollar amount you can expect to win in a given session.
The takeaway message here is to always try and carry yourself well at the poker table. If you aren’t sure what to say, less is more
I’m Matt “Checkmate” Colletta. I’ve been playing poker professionally since about 2004.
As one of the poker pros on UpswingPoker.com, my goal here is to help transform at least one hobbyist poker player into a self made millionaire.