Having a likeable table persona, and generally being regarded as a “good guy”, can have its benefits when playing poker. How you are perceived, and how you perceive others, can influence the way in which a game is played and whether or not other players are “out to get you”. Even though the ultimate aim of the game is to beat everybody else, you do not have to be a bad guy in order to do it.
If you look at some of the sportsmen recently heralded in the BBC´s Sports Personality of the Year, they are all generally likeable people. Tony McCoy, David Beckham and Rafael Nadal have earned their places in the SPOTY Roll of Honour because of achievements in their particularly sports. And, without doing them any favours, you would not particularly target them in a game of poker.
Poker too has its more likeable characters – and those that you could imagine yourself targeting during a game. Who do you feel would give you a better poker experience if you found them seated at your table? Negreanu, Rousso and Raymer or Helmuth, Matusow and Doyle? Yet, you are unlikely to have ever met these people and your answer will have been influenced by their persona.
These characters all exist in the day to day world of low and mid stakes online poker, and players who play at the same sites will regularly come across other players that they either enjoy playing with and respect their game or cannot tolerate and want see them wiped out as quick as possible. Once a group of players feel the same way, they will support and encourage those they respect, whilst alienating those players they dislike.
This can often lead to a poker phenomenon known as “unspoken collusion”, where players – without actually saying anything to each other – will understand the betting actions of another in an attempt to eliminate a player from the game. An example of this happening would be in a “Double or Nothing” Sit ´n´ Go tournament when six players are left in the tournament and players fold potentially winning hands to allow the player on Big Blind to remain in the game at the expense of another.
So, how do you develop a likeable table persona? It is not very difficult. Simply avoid the things which might annoy or upset your table colleagues – waiting too long before making a betting action, berating another player for a foolish bet or crowing when you win – and appreciate good play in others. It does not take much when you have seen a check-raise or slow play executed to perfection to send a “wp” on the chat, and that player will remember that not only did you acknowledge his skill, but recognised it also!
Not only will this identify you to that player (and any other observant ones seated around the table) as a likeable character, but one who is knowledgeable about the finer skills required to be a successful poker player. This in itself might prevent you being bet into when you are facing elimination from a tournament on the fringe of the bubble, and is just one of the advantages of having a likeable table persona.