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Signal Searching

I'm starting to love the Hoy for the pure fact that when I bust early, I can go and watch some Heroes. Yeah, not the best reason to love a game. At least I got in for half price. I've been tearing up those $13.75 HU SNGs for tokens lately, going three for three since I started trying them.

I was thinking about my atrocious day at NiceLook Sunday. I'm mostly over it, but after reading posts at PokerStage and UpForPoker, I recalled something from the game. Otis from UpForPoker and Falstaff at PokerStage both wrote about the rituals they go through when they play live poker. I've written about my rituals so much, we can play fill-in-the-blank for most regular readers, but if anyone found this corner of the blogospher from those fine aforementioned writers, you can read THIS RECENT POST as an example of my ritual ("black dollar-sign Superman shirt, cargo pants with a slew of pockets, baseball cap, hooded sweatshirt, new elephant card cap, sunglasses, and iPod"). In fact, I just found THIS GEM OF A POST about the origin of the Superman T-shirt, the cornerstone to my poker attire ritual.

That's all in the way of background. Most of you know my poker ritual and gear, so I figured I'd expound upon it a little. There is generally a reason for every item I have with me. I've explained the benefits of a superhero t-shirt before. It sets me up as a goofball and hopefully will garner me some action. The hooded sweatshirt is so that I'm never cold. During poker, I tend to run hot and cold, and I don't mean my cards, either. I'll feel a shiver of cold and throw on my hooded sweatshirt and then five minutes later feel hot and shed the hoody. If its a place that is hot, I'll wear my grey convertible cargo pants and zip off the legs to make them into shorts. I wear cargo pants so that my pockets have room for everything I need, and particularly have sealed pockets (either velcro or zippers) to hold my bankroll. I've lost things before by wearing loose pants with loose pockets while hanging out with loose women, so I've adapted in an effort to curb my irresponsible ways.

The key is that I don't want anything to distract me from the poker. I don't want to be so sweaty that I'm too busy complaining or adjusting to concentrate. I don't want to be too worried about my wallet that I'm constantly checking its locale instead of checking the douschebag opponent's hands for tells. I want to be free from everything except for the rigors of poker.

So, let's get back to my recent trip to NiceLook, an underground poker club in NYC. I like to listen to my iPod here and there throughout the session. If I'm getting a little bit bored, I'll throw on some rap to get my energy going. If I'm feeling in tune to the game, I'll throw on some techno music. If I need to relax, I'll throw on some classic jazz (Miles Davis) or classical music.

But one thing I never do. I never let the table know what I'm listening to. There is a lot of information available out there if you want to take it and for the first time on Sunday, I found the benefit of seeing your opponent's iPod. Someone can dress like a tool to garner action, or act like a big shot to garner fear, but they generally put music that they like on their iPod. No one is playing classical music as a false tell. If they are listening to classical music, they are likely somewhat refined and conservative, and/or they are trying to relax and play tight and controled. For this reason, I generally keep my iPod in my pocket or face-down on the table. On Sunday, the player to my immediate left, a short-stacked Asian kid, let his iPod in plain sight. I actually changed from my prescription sunglasses to regular glasses to read the damn thing, but once I could see it, I saw that he was listening to some top-40 song from Rihanna.

Let's be real. From seeing that he was listening to wannabe gangsta, bubble-gum pop R&B, its not as though I now knew everything about the guy. But I did know a few things. First, he was going to probably be pretty loose, especially since he was on the shortstack. Rihanna's bubble-gum R&B is not for the conservative (although not for the hard-core either), so I was confident that, at least on some level, he was going to play a young style of poker, i.e., fairy loose. I was also fairly confident that he wasn't a real worry. After all, he's clearly not too creative if he is listening to that top-40 garbage. Now, if he was listening to some Asian music that I never heard of, then I'd think he was a crazy Asian gambler (the default read I get from Asians). If he was listening to some more cerebral rap, I'd be more concerned that he was more of a thinker. Whatever the case, if information is available to you, take it. Even if you have to change your glasses, get that info. You're doing yourself a disservice by ignoring it.

Another favorite trick that I've mentioned here before is simply turning off your iPod. I like to start with it on, turn it off, and keep bobbing my head. I want players to think I am deaf to their words, so they can speak freely. I want to hear them when they don't expect it, so I can get to their real selves.

There are points to everything in my ritual. Even the sunglasses are there for deception, so I can constantly scan the table without alerting my competitors to my gaze, or turn my head in one direction (such as at the board) but turn my eyes elsewhere (such as your expression when the turn comes).

I've officially rambled enough, so I best bet going. Just remember, poker is a game of information. You want to control the info you send out and gather as much RELIABLE info as possible. By doing things like reading your opponent's iPod or pretending like you can't hear his conversation with your neighbor, you are effectively eliminating your opponent's impetus to send out false signals. You are manipulating the situation so that you get the best info, and they get the worst. A ritual can be many things, but it should always be about information. What you send, and what you hope to receive.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 10:34 AM,


At 1:15 PM, Blogger bayne_s said...

At the halfway point of BBT let me just say again "Rue the Day"

At 2:45 PM, Blogger lj said...

how'd you finish up last night? hopefully you put my stupid AQ chips to good use. : )

At 5:14 PM, Blogger Stefan Klein said...

I played live poker yesterday and gotta say, hell this was the worst in a long time, I just could not keep my legs still during 1 important hand cause I had to pee like mad... damn that... besides this bull"piss", rituals are great, but nevertheless, after some time people will notice a fake id unless you act really good.

At 2:28 AM, Blogger bayne_s said...

Rue the Day


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