I’ve taken a pretty long break from poker and plan on resuming live tournament play tomorrow at Mohegan Sun. This cannot stop me from sharing with my loyal readers my observations about poker fashion. Oooh child, it’s time to dish! Let’s tawk about what’s in and what’s out. *snaps*
Poker In: Monster™ Headphones.
Look around any large poker room and you will find a shitload of kids wearing the same exact set of headphones with a “9” or a “6” (or is it a “q” or “b”?) on them. There has been a noticeable and rapid proliferation of these things in pokerland. Mildly annoying! It seems that no one wants to use their crummy old ipod earbuds or any other headphones, they’ve gotta have these. I’ve asked people why, and have been informed either that “Monster headphones are the best!” or that “Monster headphones are endorsed by Dr. Dre!”
I happen to know a lot of true audiophiles (even some who work in the business) and I’ve now asked them about this product, and I also did a little bit of research on my own. These headphones are actually demonstrably not the best; most experts have given them lukewarm reviews and some call them overpriced. That leaves us with the second theory: that a West Coast rap producer who was last seen either jacking every hook in the P-Funk catalogue 18 years ago or “discovering” a white rapper 11 years ago is the driving force behind the popularity of Monster headphones in the modern poker community. Okay. I’m convinced that a third theory must hold the real answer. Perhaps Tom Dwan or some other young poker demigod served as a trendsetter?
Poker Out: Ed Hardy gear.
In a development as surprising as the sun rising this morning, heterosexual men have grown tired of bedazzled mesh caps.
Poker In: Facebook Spew.
Facebook status updates are fascinating. And by fascinating, I mean morbidly fascinating. Car wreck fascinating. I’m sure that some good sociological studies on them have already been done, but allow me to state the obvious: these spur-of-the-moment ramblings are an enlightening glimpse into the minds of your “friends,” and Facebook doesn’t discriminate. Even your dumbest, weirdest and most deranged acquaintances are allowed to share with the class, and the burden’s on you to either “hide” them or remain exposed to the spew. I prefer rubbernecking. I stay exposed.
I have accumulated a lot of poker friends on Facebook. And this has been a rewarding experience—poker players love to update their status! I’ve been reading them religiously for some time now.
My primary finding is that there is no correlation between skill at poker and the ability to type coherent thoughts. And I’ve noticed that there are certain character profiles. Here are a few:
- Mr. Itchy Fingers. This guy updates his status four times per tournament level. He does this well before the money bubble in $300 events. Who are these updates supposed to appeal to? The other poker players could care less and everyone else has no idea what the hell you’re talking about.
- Mr. Amnesia. This guy wins $250,000 in a weekend, then waits less than 48 hours before resuming his daily vitriolic “fuck my life! OMG aces cracked again! I hate poker!” rantings. Classy.
- Mr. Birdseed. “I’m at the final table of the $7 rebuy on Absolute!!11! Plz come root me on! I’m gonna ship this one! Run good one time!”
- Mr. Fame Whore. This dude’s is so desperate for the world to recognize his accomplishments and superior skill level that all he does is complain about being under-promoted. He may even dream up a bizarre, unintelligible motto and spam you with it every few hours. Awesome!
Poker Out: Humility, a Sense of Perspective.
I can’t recall if it was Al Alvarez’s book or Anthony Holden’s, but there is a telling passage about playing poker in a Las Vegas card room on the day Ronald Reagan was elected president. The author (an Englishman) announced that the United States had elected a new president, and the only remark made by another player at the table was that the odds posted on Reagan winning the election a few months earlier turned out to be good value. The game moved forward without further comment.
This is an accurate depiction of the world unto itself that poker exists in. The day after the heath care reform bill—which is likely the most controversial and far reaching political event the US has seen for some time—was passed, my facebook page was filled with commentary thereon (some frightening in its own right). But then you had the poker players, who littered the page with the usual updates about relatively stupid shit like running kings into aces again. I don’t think other professions work this way. Obsessed much?
Poker In: “Muppet,” “Monkey,” et. al.
Poker players devote a lot of time to coming up with new ways to describe morons. These are just two of the terms of art that are currently in favor. I have always loved the Muppets, so that one’s my personal favorite. It is of course roughly synonymous with:
Poker Out: “Donkey.”
Poker players are finally giving the time-worn “donk” a rest. You’ll still hear it quite often, but it’s no longer on the tip of everyone’s tongue every freakin’ hand.
Poker In: The Intimidating String Call.
You’re a live tournament poker pro doing what live tournament poker pros do: playing a live tournament. You could be at The Borgata, The Rio, a cruise ship in the Caribbean or in your cousin’s basement. It really doesn’t matter. The buy in could be $100, $1500 or $10,000. It really doesn’t matter. The blinds are 300-600.
The bad guy opens under the gun for 1700. The bad guy could be an internet kid wearing Monster headphones, an obese Italian-American in a sweatsuit, or a woman with monstrous tits. It really doesn’t matter. It folds to you in the hijack, cutoff, button, whatever (it really doesn’t matter). You decide to call. You’re heads up to the flop.
The flop comes 10-6-5 rainbow. Or it comes K-J-10 of diamonds. Or maybe it comes 7-2-2. Or it could be three aces. That’s right, it really doesn’t matter. The bad guy bets 2800. Now the stage is all yours!
You are gonna call this bet. You may be calling because you have top pair. Or possibly a flush draw. Or maybe you’ve flopped the nuts and are gonna trap the bad guy. Or maybe you’re attempting the old double float river bluffraise with eight high and no draw. It really doesn’t matter! What does matter is that you are about to execute the coolest, most amazing, fantastic move in the book, and you’re going to relish every second of it.
You look at the bad guy, then you look at your stack of chips. Gee whiz, there’s a lot of ’em. Now you start to dig in. Do you pull out 2800—two yellows, a purple, and three blacks? Nope. Here comes the really sick part. You remove only three black chips from your massive stack and fling them into the pot.
Three hundred? What the fuck is this? Have you been daydreaming? Are you retarded? Color blind? Hell no! None of the above!
It’s… an Intimidating String Call! You’ve now stated your intention, looked incredibly suave, and maybe even scared the living shit out of the bad guy using merely three black chips! You will get to the purples and yellows when you’re good and ready. WOW! SICK!
Poker Out: Chip Tricks.
And good riddance. The standard flipping and riffling that most of us do subconsciously will be with us for the forseeable future, but that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about sophisticated chip dance routines that take weeks of practice to master. You used to see a lot of that, but I’ve noticed very little David Copperfield stuff lately. Maybe people are actually concentrating on playing well? I dunno.