Talking At The Poker Table
Chatting at the tables: help or hurt? The table conversation has been debated continuously for as long as I can remember. It can be used as a method to extract information from your opponent when used correctly along with sharp instincts. We see the best professional poker players, like Phil Hellmuth, Dan Negreanu and Joe Hachem, employing this controversial tactic quite often with documented success. What is surprising is that opponents, very sad, induce them to talk, knowing that this can lead to their own death. I have repeatedly seen player after player giving too much information during a tournament in what appeared to be an innocent conversation only to be used against them later in the hand or tournament.
Many players consider poker to be a “social” game where meaningless play is acceptable. I beg to differ. Poker is not a “social” game at all, in the opinion of this writer. It is a game of information and theft at all costs. Information is collected by looking at cards, cards and people. When people start talking at the tables, it provides one more way to collect valuable information that would not be available to us if we simply played cards.
Listening is a skill!
Have you ever heard your parents say QQ Online, “You couldn’t hear me because you were too busy talking?” Well, more true words were never spoken. If you’re talking, you can’t be listening, which ultimately impairs your ability to gather the necessary information from those who feel the need to tell the world exactly how they play. There will be plenty of time to chat after the tournament or during the break. When you sit down at a poker table, you are theoretically sitting in a den of thieves. What do thieves do? They sympathize with how to LIE, DECEIVE and STEAL. Poker players are no different, although in the legal sense of this metaphor. Although we are not stealing property, we are constantly stealing chips and lying on our hands while we are at the tables. We always have our radar up and running, listening to any relevant information that can help us achieve our goal of getting our opponents’ chips. That is why it is extremely important to be very careful about what you say and to whom you say it at the poker table.
I will never forget to watch an episode of the 2006 WPT, when Kido Pham, a very good player, left the tournament. Kido had a good stack and was struggling to win the title with six players remaining at the final table when he lost his head. He got involved in a heads up with an opponent with about the same number of chips and just went crazy. He started singing children’s songs and making all kinds of silly comments in an attempt to incite his opponent to reveal the strength of his hand while Kido himself was in a cold stone BLUFF. His opponent never said a word and then, finally, during this verbal nonsense, Kido wrongly said, “I CARE.” As we all know, verbal bets ARE LINKED and Kido has lost almost all of his stack in a really stupid hand. A few hands later, he was completely embarrassed and on the trail watching with the rest of us.
Another incident made us watch the infamous Kelli Griggs make a fool of himself while heads-up for the title against J.J. Lugar. Kelli tried to speak to J.J. Enjoy the best hand at the 2006 WPT Ladies event. Kelli continued to chant: “It’s my destiny. It’s my destiny.” It was certainly her destiny to be sent to the rail with second place money. It was a complete embarrassment for Kelli and the poker game. You will not deceive an experienced professional very often. Especially, an amateur playing at her first televised final table. J.J. saw through the absurd and put the pieces together and went on to victory.
There may be a lot of poker on TV these days. Perhaps chatting at the poker tables at these tournaments is a reflection of our society as a whole. Whatever the case, you must be very careful about what you say and who you say it to while playing poker tournaments or cash games. While you certainly can’t judge a book by its cover, you can definitely blow up yours.