There’s a favorite saying in poker: “If you’re at a table and you don’t know who the sucker is, then YOU’RE the sucker!”
It’s true, and I’ve been the sucker many times, as much as I would have wished otherwise. The good news is that the “sucker” phenomenon works to your advantage.
In multi-table tournaments, you will often have the option of where to sit. In the end, you will be facing off against the top guys no matter what, but it helps to have a lot of chips and you have to make sure you survive to the final round, of course. If you’re not already a star player, a lot of your early tournament success will come from where you sit in the beginning.
I hate to be a chauvinist, sexist pig, but there’s no question about it. The more women there are at a table, the more likely they are to make silly mistakes and put a lot of money on the wrong hand. In fact, they are also the most likely to not understand the rules of the game and even blatantly give away their hand by asking “Is a full house better than a flush?” right after the flop. If you’re a woman reading this, my advice stays the same.
A side benefit of this that the tables with the most women also attract horny guys who want to flirt with the ladies and have little to no interest in protecting their hands and betting properly. They become easy targets because they don’t have their eye on the ball.
Ok, slow down. I’m not suggesting you go to the local middle school and start card games on the playground. Even if they had a high enough budget from their lunch money, no one would ever believe your master plan was only to steal their money.
What we mean by “kids” are college age players or people slightly over 21. There are some extremely talented young players, but most of the time, the younger ones will make mistakes the older ones don’t. For one thing, the younger crowd has less emotional control. They will get more heated up when things don’t go their way, which will give away their hands, plus lead to poor betting choices.
Younger players also have smaller bankrolls, so they know that if they lose $300, it could seriously effect whether they can pay their rent or not. We all know that the more important the pot money is to you, the less control you have over the game. Take advantage of that.
There is a profound difference between people that go to Las Vegas to play poker vs. people that play poker because they’re in Las Vegas.
There are many vacationers who barely know the rules of poker and will even take a David Sklanksy book to the table with them before the dealer makes them put it away.
These are the people who see a poker table in Atlantic City like the Tea Cup ride in Disneyland. The trip feels incomplete without a spin at the table, so they do it and pay hundreds of dollars or more for the privilege.
Men who are good at poker do not want to be disturbed when they play. They don’t want to explain the rules to their girlfriends and don’t want to have to check in to make sure the wife has a drink and isn’t getting harassed by the guy next to her. Actually, all men would prefer that those obligations were not part of the dating or marriage game, but the ones who are serious about poker will not take that baggage to the table with them.
If you see a man sitting with his significant other at a poker table, chances are neither of them are good players. I suppose it’s possible that both of them could be superstar poker champions who feed off each other’s power, but this is about as common as the movie “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” where the man and wife are both James Bond caliber assassins.
And if you see multiple couples sitting together, it’s an even better opportunity, especially if they know each other already. The men will want to impress the women they’re with, for one thing. This will inflate their egos and murder their judgment. When there are multiple couples that came together, the men will often try to compete, even if it looks friendly, because every guy wants to be the alpha-male of the group. Plus, you have the compounded effect of the men having to take care of their significant others on top of all that.
5. Big Drinkers and Drunk People
This one may seem obvious, but there’s a little more to it. If someone is obviously wasted, they might be removed from the table before you get any of his money, so don’t bother with the people who are nearly comatose. However, if you see someone especially rowdy with several beer bottles, then he’s likely to be a good bet. Aside from the lapses in judgment, he’s likely to be over-eager to push a lot of money in to be the life of the party.
6. Anyone Who’s Especially Emotional
As we talked about in an earlier article, emotion tends to cloud your judgment in poker. This is true for both negative and positive emotions, so look for both the angry people and the elated people.
If someone walks in bitching about there being no parking or is abusive to the server, he is a good target. If a lady skips in nearly walking on air because she has a fresh new engagement ring, she is someone to sit close to. Anyone who comes in happy about a job promotion or a bonus is a good opportunity as well. It’s even better if someone is very happy over a bonus and is actually coming to the poker game because of the bonus.
This article reveals some of the dark side of poker and could lead you to question its ethics. The truth is that poker is, and always will be, a zero sum game where money is redistributed from poor and inexperienced players to seasoned and competent players.
Aside from a few beginners’ luck stories, the people mentioned above (besides talented women and young players, of course) will lose their money whether you sit next to them or on the other side of the room. What you have to decide is whether you want their lost chips to catapult you or someone else to the final table of the tournament.