3 Tips for Interacting with Online Poker Players
Years ago, I had a poker column in a short-lived, local, New Jersey sports magazine. In one column, I wrote about how making friends at the poker table can benefit both your enjoyment and your profit. I suggested things like always carry gum or candy in your purse, because that guy with the bad breath may check to you in a critical situation because you gave him a Life Saver. I could sell penny candy for a ton of dollars.
I also stressed how important it is to be nice to everyone but especially those on your immediate left. This is because money moves clockwise around the table. You need to do everything in your power to keep your stack from moving to the left along with everyone else’s. A simple “how are you?” or “nice shirt” can earn you a check from your new buddy on the left. Who wouldn’t benefit from one or two free flush draws in a given session?
But when it comes to online play, I give very different advice. Here are three tips on player interaction specific to online play:
1. Stay Anonymous
As with any online transaction, you need to protect your personal information. Online poker is no different. Don’t use your real name in your avatar. Don’t give any specific information out in the chat as to who you are or where you live. In fact, stay out of the chat altogether (more on that later). You are in the game to win and hone your poker skills. Making friends is not on the to-do list. Get out in the sun for that, people!
2. Give Out False Tells in Everything You Do to Keep Your Opponents Guessing
If you are a new player, put the word “shark” in your screen name. If you are a 200-pound bodybuilder, select the avatar of a 90-pound weakling. If you are a rock and only play the nuts, limp in with 72 offsuit once in awhile. If you have an easy fold after you have been re-raised, take your time folding anyway. Getting others to think the opposite of the truth can be very profitable.
3. Keep The Chat to a Minimum and Only When It Serves You
Unlike a brick-and-mortar card room, when I play online I leave my Midwest politeness at the virtual door. In a world where there is actual software to track my play and opponents are free to gather data on me, why would I give them any more help by writing in the chat? How would that serve me? Plus, even if on the surface a nice dog lover by the screen name of CamdenPuggletries to chat me up. That player might actually be a hunter from Cherry Hill. You don’t know who you are talking to. Some of the players at the table could literally be robots. Plus, chatting about the Phillies in the chatroom distracts you from the task at hand.
Now, there are occasions where the chat can help you get information. I’m all for that. A “nice hand” or a “I think you had me” might elicit some information from a novice opponent in a later hand. The player may even show cards to you after a hand to prove he had you beat and expect you to do the same. There is nothing wrong with tricking someone into thinking you are in an “us vs. them” situation. Of course, when it comes time to reciprocate, don’t. Information is currency. Don’t give it away.