What your Clothes Say About Your Gambling Style
What we wear says a lot about our character. That’s why people defending themselves in court or attending a job interview are best advised to dress respectably. Presenting a strong first impression can get people on our side subconsciously before they’ve even heard what we have to say for ourselves.
There are all kinds of situations in which our attire can reveal clues about our background and the way we live our lives. One of them, believe it or not, is in the casino.
Most casino games don’t rely on what are known as player reads. However, in games like poker where participants play against each other rather than the house, any information we can glean about a player can impact the way we play against them. When you’re going out, your clothes tell a story, unlike playing in your pjs at an online casino!
Whilst these reads can never be used solely to predict how a player is going to play, they can support other information and cement an inkling about their aggression or how tight they are likely to play. Below we present some of the stereotypes associated with different playing styles in the casino. See if you can spot some of these player types the next time, you’re at the felt and check to see if the presumptions we make are indeed accurate.
The Typical Vegas Tourist
In places like Las Vegas, a lot of the opposition you’ll face when gambling will be from tourists. These come in all shapes and sizes and just by virtue of being a tourist to the city, we shouldn’t expect them to play a certain way. However, Las Vegas and the poker tables of Sin City are particularly populated with a specific kind of tourist.
Many of those visiting Las Vegas each year are retirees looking to enjoy their twilight years. They’ll show up as a couple or a small group of friends, with the ladies heading off to enjoy the shows and the boys hitting the casino floor.
This variety of tourist will be rather well off but usually not what we would consider truly wealthy. They’ll have probably allocated a certain amount of cash for the day or week and will want it to last as long as possible.
You can often expect the typical Vegas tourist to play tight (unless they’re winning or have had a little too much to drink). They’ll be cautious, won’t bluff loads, and will play their hands pretty straight up – if they’ve got it, they’ll play back at you and if they haven’t, they’ll get out of there. You should play aggressively versus these players, being aware that them representing strength usually means that they are strong.
You’ll find this type of Las Vegas tourist wearing comfortable but never scruffy clothing. They’ll favor shorts and perhaps a light dress shirt to deal with the heat. On their feet you’ll probably find sandals or something easy to cover a lot of ground in. It’s likely that the casino isn’t the only place they plan to visit and will have dressed appropriately for a full day sightseeing in the Nevada sunshine. Therefore, you can expect our typical Vegas tourist to be carrying accessories that other players won’t. This might be a camera, tourist map, or bum bag to keep all their important bits and pieces safe.
Someone dressed for a day in the office is likely going to be a slightly more dangerous opponent than our Las Vegas tourist. These types of players feel comfortable to live in a business suit even when doing non-business activities. This usually means they spend a lot of their life in a suit and probably have a larger than average bankroll.
These players won’t be true sharks but they will often understand the game on a level that some weaker opponents do not. They’ll bluff more than the tourist will and, therefore, present more of a challenge even to experienced players.
The kind of person that wears a suit 24/7 is likely to hold a high up position in the corporate world. They’ll be used to strategizing, won’t be short of cash, and will thrive on the competitive nature of poker. All of this makes them a more dangerous player than the average Joe.
Given their increased aggression, you can trap our business-focused friend in huge pots. We can also make meta plays against them, using their perception of us against them as an exploit. Whilst they’re definitely trickier to play against, they make plenty of mistakes and there is still a lot of potential to profit to be made from them.
Sports fans often find themselves sat around the poker table. They proudly display their allegiance to their team by wearing their colors and will typically represent poorer opposition than our opponent from the business world.
The sports fan likely showed up to the casino to watch a game in the bar or even bet on it. This probably means they’ve knocked back a few beers too. They could be chasing their sportsbook losses or trying to turn their winnings into a small fortune. These factors combined means that they’ll likely play a very loose aggressive game but with little nuance to their play.
The sports fan will likely take any effort to play back at them as a challenge. They’ll try desperately to win every pot they’re in. To play effectively against this style, you should stick to premium starting hands and build massive pots with the goods. If you do end up bluffing against them, make sure it’s you that shoves your stack in first. If they have the opportunity to attempt to blow you off a hand by going all-in, they’ll almost certainly take it.
Typically, what many players would deem a “maniac” in player classifications, the sports fan will leave a lot of money on the table. However, when they do have it, they’ll burn you in a massive pot. Playing against such an opponent naturally invites high variance since you’ll be playing for stacks a lot but it’s very easy to play with an edge versus them.
Cowboy Hat and Expensive Jewellery are Very Modest but Expensive Clothing
There is another kind of businessperson that like to frequent the casino too. These guys are typically CEOs of large companies and are at the casino because that morning it was a toss up between playing at the PGA golf course or propping up the poker table.
We’ll nickname this player the tycoon because they’re incredibly wealthy to the point that they’re largely removed from the business world that made them their fortune. For them, the poker game is about the game itself, not the money.
They’ll make blasé calls just to see what you had in a hand. In fact, I recall a particularly flashy Italian tycoon type player who used to play in the NL game at a casino in the UK. Aldo had made his money years ago and now got his thrills from the poker table. He would dress in expensive Italian suits and have more gold on him than an Indian temple. Testament to his style, he would routinely cry, “Donation!” as he made his hopeless river call – meaning that he knew his hand would lose but just wanted to know that he beaten. He didn’t care that it cost him money.
Needless to say, players like this will go to showdown a lot. You, therefore, want to play cautiously when it comes to bluffing the river. They’ll also play very loose because they’re more interested in the camaraderie with the boys than actually winning. Putting them on hands is difficult thanks to their very wide range across all streets.
They’ll chase draws hopelessly and put money in the pot with far too many dreadful hands. However, they will hit some disgusting hands against you when they flop lucky and it will be very difficult to put them on a monster on the kind of boards they actually hit with their non-conventional starting hands.
Hoody, sweats, shades, cap
Finally, there’s the shark. The shark is typically younger than most of the other player types we’ve discussed above. They look exactly like half the players you’ll find at the WSOP final table. They’ll be in their 20s and be trying to hide as much of their face as possible.
You see, our young shark likely learned most of their chops online. They’re acutely aware that by virtue of playing in the real-world, they’re instantly giving away more information than when they’re 20 tabling mid-stakes NL games in a dark room somewhere. They’ll wear shades and a cap to minimise how much fellow players can learn by studying their faces.
You’ll also see them wearing comfortable clothing. This might include a hoody and sweat pants – the hood also allowing them to escape the scrutiny of other players somewhat. The shark plans to sit at the poker table for many hours grinding. For them, the trip to the casino isn’t about the thrill of the game or an excuse to show-off their wealth, it’s all about exploiting players and making cash.
As well as being dressed in a way that they’ll remain comfortable for many hours, you might also find them listening to tunes on headphones. They want to study the game free from distractions to make the best reads possible. This often involves detaching themselves from the inane chatter of our other player types and operating at a state of extreme focus. They’re by far the most dangerous player at the casino and you never want one sitting to your immediate left.
Player Reads: Just Part of the Story
Of course, stereotypes are never completely accurate and there are plenty of exceptions to them. It’s important to use your player reads carefully. Use them to support other information, rather than making plays directly from them straight away.
For example, you might choose a seat to the left of someone resembling the tycoon or sports fan, rather than to the right of a potential shark. However, you shouldn’t make a hero call with bottom pair on a scary flop just because the guy opposite you is wearing his favorite team’s jersey. You might pay extra attention for overly aggressive moves from this player but must wait for confirmation of your loose player type categorization before making massive plays based upon them.