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Your Table Persona

napncrash Posts: 177Subscriber
edited May 2014 in Low Content Forum
Anyone else struggle with their table persona?

I am very much not myself at the table. I'm normally quite social and easy-going... but when I sit at the table, I'm almost anti-social. I'm terrible at small-talk with strangers.

Truth be told, I can't imagine I would like most of the people with whom I end up playing. The grumpy old guy, the hoodie/sunglasses superstar, the guy with a giant backpack and sweatpants, the guy with the breath from the black lagoon... I don't know. A lot of people at the table either annoy me or feel like their posing... like they're trying to be something they're not - playing some poker character.

Then there's me. I wouldn't like me either. I'm mostly quiet. I don't often give people much of a reason to DISlike me, but I'm not very good at the skill of faking conversation. I know it's in my financial best interest to keep the table lively and fun but I just don't have that kind of stamina. Maybe someday.

I find it hard; I'm looking to take these people's money. I'm looking to help them make mistakes. If things go well for me, that means things went badly for them. And in trying to do that, they are the enemy.

But I don't treat people like shit (anymore). I say anymore because in my early days, I, like a lot of players, thought I had a clue and everyone else was stupid. I certainly know better now. But I'm not perfect now and I wasn't perfect 6 years ago, either. I'm not proud of some of my horseshit comments back in the day, but I've matured, grown, and moved past that.

Often times, I play quietly, small earbuds in, listening to the Mets game or some non-poker podcast. Sometimes it's music but not often. I'm often scrolling through my phone to catch up on the news and other random stuff going on in the world. So I'm this bland nobody that seems disinterested in anything but winning money... well, that second part is the truth; but it's bad for people to think of you that way. I'm aware of it and I'm working on it.

I have a blast at my home game with my friends, but when I step into the casino, I don't have much to say to many people. It's a shame, I know I'm missing out on making new poker friends and finding real-life poker friends is a big time +EV poker AND life move.

How about you? Do you struggle? Is it natural for you to small-talk all day at the table? Do you find casino poker social and fun? Or do you find yourself more on the anti-social part of the spectrum while playing?


  • RizenRizen Posts: 58Subscriber
    I always engage in small talk at the table. I always introduce myself to the players next to me when I sit down. I also ask random questions to the table to see what people say and gauge their interest.
    I follow sports, stocks, real estate, commodities, local and regional economics, and government. It's important to me to be able to have meaningful conversations with anyone about anything

    I'm especially engaging to recreational players who I feel are "put off" by strategy talk and anti social behaviors at the table. I go out of my way to make these people feel comfortable. I never complain about bad beats or dealers because it just off a negative vibe. It's very important to me to be liked by rec players
    I've learned so much through Limon's podcasts about treating rec players like customers. Also I never have headphones or iPads at the table. I do whatever I can to foster an atmosphere that is welcoming to rec players
  • Arenzano Posts: 1,461Subscriber
    OP, it sounds like you are the one who is posing and playing a character. You say you're social and outgoing, but when sitting down at the table you become quiet and morose.

    You don't have to necessarily "like" the people you play poker with in a casino but they aren't your enemies either. You can contribute to whatever conversation may be going on in a genuine manner without overtly inserting any super strong opinions. Poker is a game played by people. People by nature are social. Sitting stone faced and checked out unless you're in a hand is not conducive to profit.

    Hopefully you'll work on being more social while playing. It may serve you well..
  • napncrash Posts: 177Subscriber
    I'm well aware of these things, as I said in the OP. I'm working on it. I was hoping for some support. Maybe someone else who finds themselves going into a bit of a shell.

    I'm not playing a character; I just have nothing natural to say to them. I'm also not morose. I'm mostly a non-entity, socially.

    I'm sure most of them are perfectly good and normal people. I know that. But I tend to catch up on the news and play poker. I find it hard to randomly small talk. I hear Tuchman has perfected the art.

    RE: headphones, I cycle back and forth. I find myself using them a lot more often during baseball season.
  • Some people find it easy to be sociable some don't. Just be as friendly as possible without feeling awkward. Introduce yourself and be friendly. Just like playing look for good spots to engage others.
    Also look for tables with lively players Then feed off that.
    Try not to think of other players as "fish,donkeys, etc. " If you consider them people who are there to have a good time and gamble you will understand them better.
    If the rest of table refuses to be friendly just wait it out or look for a livelier table.
    Just like other poker skills you'll get better.
  • DavidChan Posts: 1,208Pro

    Just try to build rapport with your fellow poker players. You may feel that you have nothing in common with them, but you should just engage them in a little conversation to figure out whether you might actually have something in common with them. Once you figure out that you may have some commonality with someone else (family is usually a good generic area for this because most people love to talk about their family), you can easily build rapport with some genuine conversation.

    The point is that you should listen to your fellow human beings at the poker table because people deserve to be treated like decent human beings. I am sure that you would like it if someone listened to you attentively and then bothered to talk with you about things that were important to you.

    Treat people in a friendly way because that is the right way to treat people. Don't worry about treating people like customers because that is usually shallow/insincere. I prefer just treating people at the poker table like decent human beings. Usually, decent human beings (even the introverted ones) like to engage in conversation with other people as long as the topic of conversation is something that they enjoy. Figure out what they enjoy by listening attentively and/or observing attentively. Then you will know how to break the ice.
  • floppedawheel Posts: 1,063Subscriber
    i hear ya, man. it's a struggle for me, too. being sociable and friendly, i find, too often gets crowded out by the competitiveness. i sometimes get on a 'social heater,' cracking jokes and just being congenial with everyone who wants to be, but that tends to be streaky and not consistent enough. i'm sociable enough off the table, but i'm not a social butterfly, tending to lean more toward introvert than extrovert, which is part of the issue.

    one thing that i tend to do consistently is to be particularly friendly with at least one of the guys next to me, and sometimes both. that will sometimes spread to engaging with the rest of the table, but if not, at least the rest of the table will see me conversing with someone and not think i'm some misanthropic weirdo. i'm also trying to get in the habit of introducing myself, like, exchanging names, to people i talk to. there are people i've played perhaps hundreds of hours with whose names i do not know. i mean, wtf? so yeah, it's a struggle.

    profit motive aside, the game is more enjoyable when i'm more engaged with the rest of the table. and that matters.
  • napncrash Posts: 177Subscriber
    Yeah, you understand where I'm coming from. I'm not a dick at the table, but my competitiveness overrides my my normal social self.

    And I'm working on a similar thing, working a bit on one neighbor. What I have found that's great, and I'm not even kidding, is bust open damnyouautocorrect.com and show it to your neighbor. Neither one of you will be able to help yourself from laughing. It's dumb, but smashes the ice. Maybe you can find your own funny website, video, whatever... but share something ridiculous with your neighbor and you can build from there. And it definitely steers the conversation away from poker.

  • Jakeflush Posts: 24Member
    Im shy,awkward and insecure away from the table, but there is something about the poker table that puts me at ease I will talk strategy with the regs, talk sports current events with rec players and talk family values with the little old lady, not just b/c it helps my bottom line but b/c its what I like to do I am miserable away from the table anytime I get to play Im doing what I love. Just take small steps to work on the social aspect of the game you don't have to become the mayor overnight, but trust me in the long run it will make you more money, and become a better person.-gl jake
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