Thursday, July 20, 2006

Poker Players By Profession, Part 1

John Milton: Let me give you a little inside information about God. God likes to watch. He's a prankster. Think about it. He gives man instincts. He gives you this extraordinary gift, and then what does He do, I swear for His own amusement, his own private, cosmic gag reel, He sets the rules in opposition. It's the goof of all time. Look but don't touch. Touch, but don't taste. Taste, don't swallow.
"The Devil's Advocate"

Why do we use stereotypes? Because they are easy, that's why. You can't judge a book by it's cover? Bullshit. I pretty much know exactly what is going on in a Playboy just by looking at the cover. Actually, I take that back as recently the cover featured Jessica Alba, and as many people have stated the inside was a great let down. Even after debunking my entire argument, I'm going to continue on anyway.

I hope to provide you, gentle humble reader, with a greater character study and insight into other players sitting around your table according to their occupation. I pull this research from years of experience. Experience garnered from home games, bricks and mortar games, casino games, watching "Rounders", and other such experiences I like to call "life". We used to practice something similar when I was in college, and you could tell a persons degree by just watching them walk a few metres (usually that few metres was into a class room with the name of the course on the door, but that is beside the point).

I am not only going to characterise your opponents style by their occupation, but also things to look out for and how to beat (or limit the loss) against each opponent.

One caveat though – this will not work for online games and may not work for most casino games. The reason behind this is people lie. If anybody ever says anything online, they are lying. In a casino, most people will make up their back story to hide this kind of insight into their psyche. Hey, I can't tell you how to decipher a person's occupation by the way they play at the table, and using this guide back to front for that sole purpose is not only unlikely to work but completely pointless – unless you are looking to win a few prop bets along the way, in which case hey, it's your money.

I estimate that this will be a multiple part post, as there are far too many occupations to cover in just a single reading. And please, just because you have Job X, and have mad skillz don't think that proves this character study wrong. I'm invoking the Maddox defence here – YOU are wrong instead. That is not your real job, or you are in fact not that good at it.

Let us start with a few of the obvious ones:


This is a very loose term, and can imply a very varied meaning. Does the guy who spends all his unemployment checks on the horse races qualify as a professional gambler? Is a poker professional with multiple bracelets a Poker Pro or a Pro Gambler as well? For this example we will separate them.

Professional Gambler – this can cover a wide variety of beasts, so you best look around and figure out if they are a professional gambler or a compulsive gambler. While all professional gamblers have a little compulsive gamble in them, not many compulsive gamblers have a professional gamble in them. But how to judge? If they are pissed out of their mind, take a seat and enjoy the ride. If they are trying to borrow cigarettes while at the table, happy days! If they look like they haven't shaved in months, smell like Courtney Love and have multiple plastic shopping bags stored on their person, chances are they are not here for the long run.

If they are an actual professional gambler then consider what level you are playing at. If this is a decent sized game and they are heads down full on concentration mode, then this might be slim pickings. If this is a very low level game and they are laughing it up, then they are here to gamble and you are going to get paid off. They will be playing a wider array of hands than Gus Hansen wearing a blind fold and looking to bluff so be prepared.

Famous Poker Pro - Here is something that should be obvious to you – if your opponent happens to be a regular at WSOP and WPT final tables, you can consider them a hard target. That doesn't mean you have to stand up a leave the table, just if you are going to loose all your money here, make sure you get a good story to tell later. Get a photo once you get felted, and if you manage to make a few dollars then add a zero to it before you tell your friends. I'm not going to go into detail on how to play against a Famous Pro Poker Player, because what the hell would I know and if you are good enough to match it with the best in the world then what the hell are you doing reading this drivel?

Self Proclaimed Poker Pro – Here is a different breed, the Poker Pro who nobody has ever heard of. This is not a myth, and most readers probably know of a few people who make their living grinding out wins without too much fanfare. But then again there are those people that won $300 yesterday and consider themselves a pro today, right before they go back to Kinkos for their shift tomorrow (FYI – Kinko's employees = fish. You heard it here first).

You need to know which kind of pro you are dealing with here. The fact that they refer to themselves as a Poker Pro and not a pro gambler makes them different. If they are an actual poker pro, make their living at the turn of the card then you are in for a tough time, just play your game and have some confidence. If however they are of the other variety, the $5 Pro variety, please just call when they over bet. Even if you don't understand how that was the most perfect, sophisticated bluff ever, you'll thank me.


Yeah, well you can play against them if you want to. You may win, you may loose, but either way it is going to be boring as hell. They are going to be tight and frugal, so give some respect and feel free to take their verbal cues to their hand.


Don't play. They are evil beast that will hunt you down. There are just some problems in life that you need to avoid if you can, and a pissed off Tax Accountant is one of them. They are inhuman. Fuck that.


Forget it. These guys know how to play, they know how to read people, and they know all the tricks. Don't play against a concierge. Don't try to cheat a concierge either. They know people, who know people, who know people – know what I mean?


For better or worse, lawyers have a reputation for being on the higher end of the intelligence spectrum. Having said that, just like any other breed of human there are plenty of stupid lawyers out there.

For the most part, the middle aged to older lawyer wearing a nice suit or at least neat casual – probably a decent player and someone to be wary of. Especially be wary of criminal lawyers, as they tend to have deeper pockets and know some really good poker players.

The younger lawyers, who can't stop telling everyone how good their firm is, giddy up! He's here to prove a point and probably has money for the first time in a long time, and it's burning up in his pocket. Help relieve him of it.

And finally, not to be forgotten in this category is the Law Student. The Law Student believes they know everything already, because they are studying law. Woo Hoo! There is also a great chance that they have seen Rounders and think that they are Mikey McD paying their own way through law school, even though they are already clerking at their father's law firm who pays all their fees up front. The Law Student needs to tell everyone that they are a law student, and should be respected because they are a law student. Here's what you do: Ask them for some legal advice. I don't care what it is about, how obscure or obvious the answer will be – trust them, they know the answer and can't wait to tell you. Feed the ego, then empty the bank roll. Tell your friends about it too. If you get invited to a game at a law school itself, get prepared for the loosest game in your life. Take a friend, take your whole bankroll, and take your time.


This includes people in public office, under the employ of people in public office, or even educators of political sciences: Don't play. You are probably a better player, but they'll cheat.


HighOnPoker said...

You should've finished the quote. It's one of my all time favorites:

Look, but don't touch. Touch, but don't taste. Taste, but don't swallow. And while you are jumping from on foot to the next, what is he doing? He's laughing his fucking ass off, Kevin!

At least that's how I remember it.

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