Table Talk: Do You Like It Soft Or Hard?

    • Table Talk: Do You Like It Soft Or Hard?

      I played some live poker this weekend; I don't do this too often, maybe twice a month, and there are a few reasons:

      Firstly, the cost: I'm a micro-stakes online player, with an average buyin of $10. If I want to play in a casino, it's almost impossible to find a game under £50, and if I do, there won't be much of what might be called 'poker' happening, just some mad-cap gambling. I am certainly not bankrolled for £50 MTTs, so I don't play too many!
      I can see the fields are softer in live games, but the stakes and variance mean I can't play everyday.

      Secondly, the effort: I am a bit of a slob, and if I can find an opportunity to not change my pants and stay out of the shower, then I'm happy. Schlepping out in the cold when I can stay nice and warm inside and play for bigger prizes is just not my usual style.

      Thirdly, the information: 100 hands into a tourney, I expect to know a lot about my opponents. Too often I glance up at my live opponents and am horrified to see that they do not have a neat box of HUD stats right next to their head; how very selfish of them.

      Fourthly, the noise: So many live players I sit next to are 'experts', with an opinion on how I play, how you play and how the dear old granny in seat 4 plays. I don't know about you, but, these days, I find that super-boring and life-tilt inducing!

      I want to focus on the fourth reason I make less effort to go to live games: The Table Chat.
      After this weekend, I actually think the culture in live poker rooms is slowly changing, and I wonder if anyone else has noticed it.

      Ten years ago, live table talk was pretty brutal. As a poker dealer, I would regularly have to warn players not to denigrate other people's play. I can not count the times I have said the phrase:
      “He's paid his money for the right to play his own game, so please stop calling him a 'dickhead'.”

      It seemed to be part of the buzz for live players to lose their shit when they got beaten, or outdrawn, and the sicker the outdraw, the angrier the player! There wasn't much serious discussion of where players had made marginal errors, or assessment of thought processes during hand. The dichotomy was simple: If he beats you, he's a genius, if you beat him, you're a donkey.
      In the early part of my casino career, I saw tables flipped, cards ripped up and ashtrays thrown; I started to believe that this was what live poker was meant to be.

      This kind of environment made live poker intimidating to a lot of potential players. Existing live players were cutting off their own income streams by scaring away fresh money.
      Perhaps the most obvious group of people who can be intimidated by this sort of environment are women, but I think it also pushes away men who don't feel the need to over-compensate for having a tiny penis by shouting obscenities at other men.

      When I played at a Manchester casino this weekend, I noticed that the table chat had a very different aura to it. There was discussion of bet sizing, arguments of whether that was/wasn't a solid 3bet steal opportunity, and, most prominently, a lot more questions were being asked:

      “Were you betting for value there?”
      “What were you planning if you whiffed the flop?”
      “Nice bet. How did you know what he had?”

      I only heard insults in the form of banter, and although a friend and I were both busted in the same hand by a gambling luckbox, we congratulated him, told him he made a superb call and then slagged him off quietly at the reg-desk where he wouldn't hear and we wouldn't hurt his poker ego, risking him not coming back.
      Ten years ago, I would have shouted “YOU TOTAL MUPPET! WHAT DID YOU THINK? THIS IS NOT ROULETTE, YOU FISH-FACED, DONKEY-BREATHED BUNG-HOLE!”

      Oh yes... I was part of the problem too, just because I'm a girl, doesn't mean I'm entirely blaming male poker players for creating the shouty, negative, cardroom environments. It was due to a certain type of player personality, and I was one of them. I'd grown up thinking that was part of the game, so I carried on the tradition.

      I supposed I have matured, as a person, and as a player.
      As I studied, learned and started to realise just what a complex and changeable game poker really is, I lost interest in the shouting, ranting and hating. I didn't want to hear it, and I didn't want to do it anymore; I'd realised it wasn't profitable. Scaring new and recreational players out of the poker rooms is definitely a -EV play.

      I'm really happy to think that the culture of player interaction in live poker is changing.
      I've heard over and over again that live players are not as competent with Maths and Game Theory as online players, and I believe that to be true. What seems to be happening is that online poker geeks have been bleeding into live poker over the last decade and changing the way live players think about the game.

      If I angrily shout “Why did you call, you donkey?” and he calmly answers, “Cos I estimated to have 50% equity against your hand, and your bet was 25% of the pot” then I have to stop in my tracks and think about what he's saying.
      If he just shouts back“because you're a stupid, ugly bitch” then nothing changes and nobody learns anything; I have players who are better, and more intelligent, than me to thank for helping me grow up.

      I still see a lot of rage at BlackJack and Roulette tables, and I suppose it's a natural human response to gambling. When you are purely punting, especially against stacked odds, impotent rage might be the only emotional outlet you have when you lose.
      It seems that, as the percentage of players who understand poker and think about maths and variance increases, the level of rage and anger decreases, which leads to less and less noise.

      I really enjoyed my live game this week, even though I played badly and failed to cash, I had a pleasant and educational time. I also noticed that in a field of fifty players there were ten women: 20% female attendance is much, much higher than a decade ago, and I think that has to mean something.

      What are your thoughts?
      Am I just mellowing with age, or do you agree that, in general, the vibe in live cardrooms is becoming more respectful, more intelligent and more about real poker than crazy gambling?

      The post was edited 1 time, last by thepokerbaffer ().

    • I´m not a live player but a online player and I have a big leak and thats the stupid chat box. I can´t stfu if a dumb fish hits his one or two outs and I lose my whole stack. Then I start to tell him that he is a fucking idiot and a very bad player .... Sometimes I discuss until 30min with a fish why he is bad .... A few guys haven even left the table because of my bad manner. I guess it would end horrible if I would play livepoker.^-^
      But I work on this leak and try to avoid the bad manner because that does not help me. It just harms my own game and it scare off the fishys. Without the bad players Poker would be not profitable.
    • Totally Klabautermann! I used to rant in the chatbox too, and I have "a very bad manner" also! If my mum saw some of my words, she would take me across her knee and punish me like a naughty child!

      Like you say, I worked out it wasn't helping me. Also, I think a growing understanding of poker and has calmed me down, I realise a beat is part of the game now, and not the gambling gods ganging up on me!

      Thanks for reading my post, and good luck keeping your rage under control! :thumbup: