One of the most overlooked factors in all of poker is the concept of table image. How are you perceived by your fellow players? Are you loved? Feared? Hated? Do they see you as a loose player or a tight one? Do they see you as a straightforward player, or are you trappy? Which of the seven dwarves are you? Which top pro do you most resemble? If you were a Ninja Turtle, which Ninja Turtle would you be? What is your favorite card suit? Do you have any tells? Do you prefer Parliament or Funkadelic? What is your favorite hand? Do you have any superstitions?
Your opponents will be watching you for answers to all these questions, and you should be watching them through wrap-around shades. Generally, you want to put off the aura of a top flight poker pro. That's why Phil Hellmuth made a category in his book just for himself. He's an eagle in a world of mice and elephants. You should be an eagle, too. Or even better, be a eagle poacher. That's a guy who shoots bald eagles with a machine gun, and he is the most feared and respected of all hunters.
There are two major categories of table image: Live and Online. We'll deal today mainly with live table image, as it is much more intricate a subject.
Table Image In Live Play
Spelling. This is of utmost importance! Can you spell poker? If you can't, please refer to Chapter 14: How to Spell Poker. (Here's a quick little mnemonic device, though: Just think of a Joker who has to urinate. It's the Pee-Joker, or, P-oker.) Failure to properly spell "poker" will destroy your table image, perhaps forever. You should practice this fundamental skill three times a day, after meditations.
Apparel and Accoutrements. You are going to need the standard gear, of course. Wraparound shades, highly reflective, iPod with big chunky headphones, big hoody. But have you considered some of the other necessary gee-gaws?
For example, your card protector. What are you going to bring to protect your monsters from the muck? Pity the sad fool who is just using a chip to protect his hand. Your card protector says a lot about who you are, and how you are to be perceived. Some people will use a little figurine, or perhaps a lucky ring, or even a picture of family trapped in amber. But the advanced player who is looking for every possible edge will take the opportunity to make a real statement here.
My advice? Try a gun. A loaded gun. It's simple, it's direct, and you won't get bluffed much.
Some other ideas to bring to the table: Cowboy hat, rainbow wig, do-rag, tray of blueberry muffins, latex Dracula mask, signed pictures of yourself.
Know Your Enemy. When you are first seated, introduce yourself. Include your online avatar in quotes between your first and last name, like they do on TV, so that everybody will know you mean business.
After a minute, pick a player at random and say, loudly, "Your sharkscope stats are a joke." This will establish you as a serious and knowledgeable player, and not to be trifled with. The guy may even claim not to know what sharkscope is. Just nod sagely and say something vague like, "It's beyond my control, man."
Now . . . watch your enemies and drink in their tells. Stare them down. Don't stop. Follow them into the bathroom if that's what it takes. Do they tend to bluff after pissing in the middle urinal, but if they have a monster they head right for the crapper? How do they tend to play after eating corn? This is information that is right there, available to you, and most players don't have the intestinal fortitude to glean it.
Establish Yourself. The best thing to do is to make sure that people know who's in charge. So just raise all in the first ten hands. It's a little known fact, but you can't call an all-in without Aces or Kings if it's for stacks. It just doesn't make sense. Once everybody's folded around to the big dawg, you'll be ready to bark.
Losing. This sometimes happens. It is total BS, but it's sadly happens. You might be on your eighth all-in push and get called by some donkey who just can't fold King Jack. Now, you're holding 33, so you're 51% to win the hand; a clear favorite.
You should totally win this every time, but sometimes a donkey gets lucky and a Jack peels off, which is a total joke. Typical. So typical.
Your diatribe is going to have to be perfect now in order to maintain your strong image. You need to immediately establish to the table that losing is a VERY rare occurrence for you. Do this by stomping your sunglasses into a paste. Walk around the table in slow, meandering, counter-clockwise laps for about ten minutes, muttering "King Jack for all his chips, unbelievable" to yourself. You should also explain to each person at the table what a donkey call that was. Also, describe the hand to the cocktail waitress that stops over to take orders.
Winning. You'll be doing this a lot. The thing to remember about winning is that people like an honest winner. So if on that eighth all in you get called by King Jack while you're holding pocket treys that hold up, you should still let the person know what a bad call he just made. Everybody will appreciate your honesty, and respect your superior poker knowledge. Explain in detail the reasons that this was a bad call. Tell the guy a few times, just in case he didn't hear the first time.
He still doesn't seem to have heard. Say it again.
Huh, nothing. Well, call him a donkey. Make funny donkey noises. Do a donkey dance.
Huh. He's choking you. That's not going to help your table image; try to break loose.
So, You've Been Killed. I'd recommend getting a tombstone with pocket Aces carved on them. That way, when there's no room in hell and you rise to eat the brains of the living, your fellow zombies will be aware of your finesse in the cardroom.
Table Image Online
Technology is great, and Internet poker has made establishing your preferred table image easier than ever.
With most software, just right click on the table and select the image you would prefer from a list of available options.
Here's a professional tip, though:
The most lucky table image is Space:
The least lucky table image is Ski Lodge:
Please, use this information wisely.
[Excerpted from Stupid/System: Poker Strategy For Huge Donkeys, (c) Julius_Goat 2008, All Rights Reserved. Cover design by Mookie "Big O" Pokeroum.]