Poker: Food Speaks

There is no better sport than poker. What other sport allows its participants to drink beer, smoke cigars and eat hoagies during the action? It’s a nice change of pace to play a game and not worry about the problems associated with physical action and sweat. As satisfying as it is to park yourself at a table all day and be concerned only with avoiding bed sores, there is a risk if you literally plan on spending breakfast, lunch and dinner at the poker table.

Food at the poker might bring a player plenty of nourishment, but while he is eating a meal, the other players are also satisfying their appetite for knowledge. As a good rule of thumb, avoid eating at the poker table. The main issue with eating is not that it might lead to a mess, but players who eat at the table are prone to giving away significant tells.

Hunger pains felt during the course of a tournament or an extended stay at a cash game should be treated as a strong signal that it is the perfect time to leave the table for a much needed refresher. Consider taking breaks an important part of your strategy since remaining at the table too long saps concentration and mental energy.

Another way food can distract a player is the moment following its arrival at the table. A person eating is clearly craving food at that particular moment. Since most people like to savor their food, the others at the table should be fairly confident the one with the plate in front of him will only play premium hands. Playing a hand with newly delivered food is a monumental tell. Since the player has a decision to make – eat the food or play the hand? – The final selection will come down to what is better. A hamburger is much better than J-4 unsuited, therefore that is an easy decision, drop the cards and grab the quarter-pounder. A hamburger loses some appeal when the cards next to it are pocket 10s. If a player all of a sudden loses interest in his food and focuses entirely at his hand, everybody else at the table should only get involved with a top-level starting hand.

The hungry man wouldn’t be giving off that tell if he just decided to leave the table for a brief food break.

If the combination of food and poker is so important to a player, then he should stick to the anonymous world of online poker where opponents have no idea what everybody at the table is doing. A player can be involved with a hand, eat dinner and write a story about poker all at the same time. Physical tells don’t exist online.