Poker is a game above all else. That means that, whether you’re a play-to-win person or someone who’s just trying to kick back and relax, we’re all in it to have fun.
Sometimes, however, the more competitive players can scare off the more casual ones. These two definitions of ‘fun’ don’t always align in the best of ways. As a shark, you might smell blood in the water and start licking your chops with anticipation, but, if a fish can tell that there’s a shark sitting across the table from them, then they might play less hands—or worse, leave the table.
If you’re a winning poker player, then, chances are you take the game pretty seriously. You spend time studying, reviewing your hands, and learning how to make better decisions in-game, and all of this should help you to gain an edge over those who aren’t willing to put in the time and effort.
But, if you come off as too serious, then people simply aren’t going to want to play with you. You don’t want others to be afraid of you; in fact, you want them to like you, you want them to want to play with you, as this will make them more willing—or even eager—to give you their chips.
We all know what the classic “shark” looks like: sunglasses, hoodie, serious all the time, hardly ever talks. Nobody wants to play with this guy or gal because 1) they know that they are a good player and 2) they just aren’t fun to play with.
This means that being a fun person at the table can improve your win-rate. People want to play games when it’s fun, and so, by cultivating a fun atmosphere, you can juice up the action and make others eager to play into your hands.
Start by livening up your personality at the table. Instead of talking about poker strategy and the hands being played, try telling jokes or relating humorous stories. Don’t tell people what they did wrong, but look for opportunities to compliment people on their hands without giving them too more strategic insight.
Oh, you got there with a 2-outer? Good job and keep it up!
You want the mood at the table to be light and easy-going, and you want the other players, especially the fish, to view you as a friend. This facilitates a game where people want to take risks, get involved, and, ultimately, donate some chips to your stack.
Why So Serious?
By being serious, you can make people unwilling to play with you or even just draw attention to your own skills. If you have an edge on the table, it’s in your best interest for nobody to realize it. Keep their minds off the game so that they don’t even realize that you’re about to go straight for the jugular.
This is yet another skill that the winner player needs to cultivate. Besides analytical skills and psychological skills for player profiling, it also behooves you to work on your charisma and social skills. Put on a show at the table—who knows, besides improving your win-rate, you might also have a little more fun!