All the way through our formative years, it has been drummed into us that “you do not get a second chance to make a first impression”. Yet, when you sit down at your next online poker game, just take a look at some of the names around you. How can some of these people ever consider that you would take them seriously?
Your name and avatar are the first things that your opponents see, and before a card has been dealt they will already be, subconsciously at least, forming an opinion about you. Therefore you need to get a screen name that is relevant to your style of play, shows strength, and the smarter the better – for a person who is capable of creating a clever pseudonym is more than likely to be a talented player.
Interpreting some of the names around today can be quite revealing. A title containing “Goldfish” may imply that the player is a fish laden with gold, anything to do with “Dreams” can demonstrate that this player does not believe that they have the ability to win anything substantial, and can only fantasise about it, whereas “Shambles”, “Chance” and “Gambler” are self-explanatory. Many people use their personal name, which indicates laziness, and in the instance of “John429785” indicates that they are a more than likely a novice. Names can also indicate age, gender and geographical location.
Make sure that if you include words like “rock” or “steady” that you live up to them. Nothing is worse than losing foolishly, and then being ridiculed about it – especially if the manner in which you lost contradicts what you advertise with your screen name. People will remember that “Dogclaw The Brave” plays like a pussy!
Avatars, and what your image says about you, are equally important. Pictures of pets, children and cartoon characters can advertise a soft spot. Imagery relating to alcohol and marijuana indicate that you may not be a serious player, and no image at all is better than a poorly taken photograph. The best avatars to use are quality sporting images – these imply that you have knowledge of odds – and professionally taken head and shoulders photographs. Again, a smart avatar indicates a smart mind.
Finally, you should be aware that some people will use their names and avatars to deliberately mislead. Male players have been known to use female aliases to appeal to stereotypical values, and it is quite feasible that somewhere in cyberspace, your 250-pound balding builder is masquerading as “EasyMaisie” – but only at weekends!
A lot of decisions made at the poker tables are influenced by our subconscious. Sometimes it is referred to as a “gut feeling”, but these feelings originate from somewhere, and if you are transmitting authority and competency through your screen name and avatar, this will affect other players and the way that they play against you.