After watching televised poker where the big hitters and amateurs playing in high-profile tournaments often wear sunglasses, too many viewers think they should do likewise. Many novice players believe that if they wear sunglasses, they will look and play like a professional poker player, but truth is going with the shades in the wrong environment makes someone look more like a Nobody.
Before your next live game, limit, no limit or a tournament, make sure the situation is right for sunglasses.
If you are online, anything goes. If wearing only a leopard-skin Speedo with a Superman cape makes you feel and play better, go for it. But when playing in front of others in a card room or home game, much of your table presence is pre-determined by appearance.
At a $2-4 table anything goes. People will play all kind of cards to hit straights and flushes because the price is always right. There is no bluffing in a low limit game. Just about any hand is good enough to play, and it’s close to impossible to bet someone off a hand.
Bluffing in a limit game begins around $5-10, but even then sunglasses often look out of place. The way to get someone off a hand in a higher limit game is to keep your foot on the betting pedal. Keeping a covert eye on your opponents does not necessarily improve your chances of winning. Betting patterns most represent a player’s tendency at a limit game.
Players at limit tables are focused on their cards and the board, so unless you have a problem with bright lights, keep the sunglasses at home and enjoy yourself.
The minimal bluffing that exists in a limit game is usually accomplished by check-raising someone early and then either betting or re-raising after the turn. If your opponent stays around for the river and you are on a bluff, you are probably beaten.
Sunglasses do play a role in no limit and tournament games, but not necessarily ones played at a home.
There is really no reason to wear shades if you are playing with your friends. If you play for the first time at someone’s high-stake home game and you want to keep some anonymity, the sunglasses can be helpful. However, if you are with your buddies, the glasses are more likely to bring you more snickers from them than their chips.
At a card room or casino, there is a value in wearing sunglasses or going without.
You can set a tone about your play if you sit down with sunglasses. Opponents at the table are going to look at you and immediately think you are going to be a bluffer. You are going to be seen as someone who is constantly looking for tells. Players wearing sunglasses immediately draw attention. If you realize the others at the table are going to think about you in this manner, play against the role sometimes. If you give off the tone of being a bluffer but play generally tight, your opponents will have less of a chance of gaining a read on you.
Going without sunglasses also says something about the kind of player you are or want others to think you are. Going without sunglasses won’t make you play like great professional poker player, but you will give off strength at the table because you are telling opponents you don’t need table props.
If you don’t wear sunglasses and fear someone is going to watch your eyes for a tell, a good rule of thumb is to stare straight down at the table. Avoid any talking or making eyes at other players who will try to bait you into doing so.
Another tell to avoid when not wearing sunglasses is the immediate stare down at your chip stack after cards hit the board. That is one of the most fundamental tells opponents are looking for. Be cognizant for this and don’t give the quick look down, rather be deliberate and calculated with any move.
The final decision about what to do with sunglasses ultimately comes down to what you are most comfortable with at the table. However, if you are going to play at a low limit game, please leave them at home.