OK, I promised this discussion yesterday, so here it is.
A friend of mine made a resolution to stop being so sarcastic and demeaning at the poker table, which got me thinking about my own table talk. I'm not nearly as bad as I've seen him at times, but I do know that I tend to talk throughout a game. I don't actually get in people's face or anything (well, I did once, but that's for a whole other discussion), but I do tend to push buttons when I'm playing the game.
So this got me thinking about the who, what, when and how of my table talk. Basically, is it effective, or should I modify it as well? I certainly don't want to change anything that is working for me....but perhaps changing it will improve what is already effective for me.
With all of that, I'll start with a discussion of my LIVE game table talk. At the end I'll hit on my online personality....because it is 100% different from the real me.
To begin with, as I said, I do talk a lot at the table. I have found that I can learn a lot by just sitting and listening...but I can learn a hundred times as much by talking to the people. The players at the table think I'm chatting, making small talk, or whining.....when in fact I'm judging every word and response they give me. They'd be much better off just ignoring me completely, but most people simply can't do that. A lot of people try using their iPod to facilitate ignoring me. This is cute, but it doesn't work. I just try all that much harder to annoy them and make them take the ear piece out to hear me.
So how about the sarcastic table talk? Is there a place for it? I say ABSOLUTELY YES! If I think for one second that I can get you to do something stupid later on with sarcastic talk right now......be prepared, because its coming. On that same token, if I can get you to think I'm upset (on tilt!) by making angry or sarcastic comments....cover your ears if you are easily offended. My goal is to win a game. If I can't outplay you, I just might be able to get you to make a mistake.
That being said....here is a little secret I have stated before, but I will now discuss in detail. I DO NOT GO ON LONG TERM TILT. Ever. I have not, in the past 18 months of play, thrown away all of my chips on an angry or upset play. Not once. I am very proud of that. However, on several occasions I have been asked, after making a big raise following a bad beat..."You on tilt, JP?" I have two answers, and both work equally as well.
1. "YES". This one actually gets the most folds. Nobody ever believes anything at a poker table, so why should they believe this.
2. "I NEVER GO ON TILT". And I say it with clenched teeth. I mostly use this when I want a call. It is very effective. Why the average poker player react the opposite of what they see and hear is just one little aspect of poker you need to understand.
The reason they ask if I'm on tilt is because immediately after the bad beat I spend a little time stating my opinion of the previous play. In that commentary, I might indicate that I am not too impressed with the mental acuity of the other player. I do this because they're thinking "great call", so SOMEBODY needs to remind them that it was a bad call. Now, with one of these comments, its no big deal. But sit at a table with me for 4 hours, and you might grow a tad weary of them. And that is my goal. Remember, think LONG TERM, not short term.
So....that being said, am I really mad? Of course not. If you make a bad call, then I WANT that call. I've said that 1,000 times. If you call my all in with pocket 2's, and I have pocket Ace's....I will never seriously be mad about the call if you win. I'm an 80/20 favorite to win with my Aces, but that means 20 percent of the time you'll win. I will never be upset for losing a bet that I am a 4 to 1 favorite to win. But I won't tell you that. If you beat me, you'll think I hate you and your children. And if I get a big hand in the next couple....while I'm still running my mouth, you will swear I'm just raising you because I'm on tilt.
Don't get me wrong though....I am a "little" upset. Not at you, but just at the facts that the poker gods smiled down on poor play and rewarded it. So, unless I have a monster on the next hand, I'm folding. No speculation while I'm even a tiny bit upset. Ever.
So that's my bad table talk...but what about the good talk? There are several reasons for just having general conversation.
1. Take note that when I talk to you, either I have folded and you are still in, or we are both still in. I won't normally talk to you if you've folded and I'm still in the hand. Sorry, but I'm working over here. But if I can talk YOU into talking while you're still in the hand, you just might get distracted enough to do something stupid....and I'm one step closer to the money. Sure, I'd like to get your chips, but if I can't then I want someone else to get them. Either way, I want YOU to lose them.
2. I get to judge your concentration level. Short answers means you're paying attention to the game, as you should be. If you get involved in a conversation with me, you're paying attention to something besides the game, while you're still in it, and I plan to exploit that later.
But wait! How can I be paying attention to the game while talking, and I think you're not when you're talking to me? I have a trick for that that I'm not going to share, but trust me, I'm paying attention to the game at hand. I may ask you questions, and even respond to your answers, but I'm honestly not paying much attention to you.
UNLESS: And this is important. Unless you are one of a select few individuals that I play with on a regular basis. You guys know who you are. And you know that none of the above applies to you. I don't want anyone to think that I'm in collusion with any other players at the game, because I'm not. I want to take their money as much as anyone else's. But I tend to not get tricky with some players. If I can beat them, I'd rather beat them by outplaying them than to do it with other stuff.
EXAMPLE: If I flop a straight flush, and I think you have a flush or trips playing for a full house, I may do 100 different things to get you to call a bet. If I do the same against a select few people, I may bet enough to make it clear that calling would be the wrong thing to do. If you are reading this, and play against me, it is up to you to figure out where you fit in that discussion. I am not going to tell you.
So anyway, table talk is important to the game. It is as important as anything else in the game. The key is to use it to your advantage, rather than just being a chatty-kathy. Same goes for the sarcasm. If you are just being an A**, then perhaps you should reconsider. Nobody wants to play with you if that's the case. But if you use it effective, then it is a monster tool in your arsenal.
And by the way, the guy in question didn't say he was going to ELIMINATE the sarcasm, he said he was going to get it under control. I believe this is what I'm talking about here.
OK, that's enough for today. I think tomorrow we'll discuss a question I got yesterday about chip movement and what it means. If I remember.