In today’s poker world, anyone has a chance to cash-in big, whether in a tournament or in a cash game. From the casual business man to the seasoned online professional, everyone has a place at the table, but can you tell who is who? Discriminating between the two means the difference between a profit and a loss, and it might not be as easy as you think.
Here is our list of 7 signs to help you spot a professional poker player at your table:
This is probably the easiest way to tell whether your opponent is a professional or a casual amateur. If he’s consuming alcohol, whether that is a beer or a double Jack and Coke, you can instantly rule him out as a pro. No right minded professional poker player would consume alcohol before or during game time.
The way a player stacks his chips is a good indicator of the type of player he is. An amateur player doesn’t give much attention to the way he stacks his chips, usually in a rather sloppy manner in mixed colours. One of the best indications is when an amateur has his big chips behind his small chips. All professional players know that this is incorrect, but most amateurs are either ignorant or forget about this rule.
Another good sign as to whether you’re playing an online “whiz kid” is age. If you’re playing in a high stakes cash game or a tournament with a relatively big buy-in, you can bet that the kid sitting across the table didn’t earn his buy-in working at Starbucks. If your at an expensive table and your opponent looks no older than 20 or 21, it’s a tell-tale sign that he’s a professional.
Amateurs tend to get excited when different situations occur on the table. Whether three kings fall on the flop or someone makes quads, your typical amateur will probably get excited and start blabbering, because this is all new to him. The professional on the other hand, will show extreme disinterest to the event, probably nodding and smiling to the amateurs comments.
One of the most important signs you are playing a professional poker player, is where their eyes are after the first two cards are dealt. When dealt the two hole cards in Texas Hold’em, an amateur player will usually be eager to look at his cards, which will give off tells to his opponents. The regular player will not look at his cards right away, but wait and follow the action to come to him before he takes a look. The professional player will be staring at you while you look at your hole cards. So next time you’re about to look at what cards you have, pause and give a glimpse to who’s observing you. Those are the pros.
If you’re an online poker junkie, you have probably heard of the term VPIP. If not, let us explain. VPIP stands for voluntarily put in pot, and is one of the most accurate signs that you’re playing a professional. A professional player will have a VPIP of around 18%-20%, which means he gets involved with pots every one in 5 hands. Amateurs will usually have a much higher VPIP, because they get excited when they see more flops with the possibility of winning more money.
We all know that poker is a mind game. Therefore, the strongest advantage professionals have over the novice players is the ability to control their emotions. You will never see a pro get upset after taking a bad beat or a suckout. You will also never see a professional get ecstatic after delivering a bad bead or winning a big pot. However, many pros will try to fool you into thinking they are amateurs by faking emotions and blowouts. This will give the impression that they are “steaming”. In fact, they are not, it’s all an act to get you to pay them off.