Sunglasses and Headphones at the Poker Tables

Although at times the fluorescent lights can be too bright (some might say as bright as the sun), especially after a heavy night, there is a way to avoid this glare with the help of your sunglasses. No other event attracts so many interesting characters as poker. During my time spent participating in and broadcasting live tournaments, I have witnessed more and more players hiding behind their shades and blocking out sound with their headphones. The peak of all this would have to be when a player appears in the sweet combination of shades, a baseball cap, headphones and a hoodie...

This short post is meant to be a thread-starter, I am curious about your opinion on this newly rising tendency, and also what accessories you have at arm’s reach when playing poker.

I, personally, like to keep cool with a pair of Oakleys. This is mainly because of my lifestyle: I spend a lot of time in my room, and when it comes to going out, I tend to squint a lot in direct sunlight. My love for my sunglasses led me to try them at the poker tables, but I soon discovered it was more a disadvantage than an advantage. This was because poker rooms tend to be pretty dark already, and using the sunglasses made it a struggle to see what cards I was holding.

Phil Laak
Phil Laak in full form and undercover

The main concept around the use of sunglasses, hoodies and baseball caps is to hide the player from the inquisitive eye. They are said to help us disguise our bluffs or our nut hands. The question on everyone’s lips is: Do our eyes really give off that much information? Can an average poker player in an average club or casino really tell what kind of cards we hold or when we bluff just from a glance in our eyes? Honestly, I don’t think so, that is why my opinion is that these accessories actually make us a weaker player. I think the main reason behind these guys using these items is more a show-off and they seek to feel like big poker players rather than being one. An exception and good counter-example:

Chris 'Jesus' Ferguson
Chris ’Jesus’ Ferguson

Another opinion on the use of sunglasses within a game is that they are a helpful tool to spy on your opponent without them noticing your watchful eye. This might have some reasonable ground, but it is not worth for me to be bothered by suffering in the dark and not being able to see the colour of my cards (maybe I should get a pair like Elton John’s Smile)

Elton John

All in all, it is a matter of personal opinion when it comes to this issue and I am not suggesting it’s a bad idea, but I do recommend not to use a very extreme piece that reflects the whole poker table, because that will only raise attention to you instead of hiding you.

The other very popular trend nowadays is the use of headphones. Is the beat really going to help us when playing poker? Listening to 50Cent’s ’Get Rich or Die Trying’ album might sound like it is on the right track, but I highly doubt the lyrics are going to help your gameplay. I personally have never tried making use of them during a game, because I know I would definitely lose precious tells which I can only focus on without the blaring music. Of course, I could still see the bet amounts, my cards and who the biggest calling station is at the table, but I could not eavesdrop on the opponents’ conversations, which would give me the edge over them.

Phil Ivey
Phil Ivey mostly just listens to music to give him his expressions

Having a look at today’s poker pros, we can see a lot of them listening to music while playing (and even more that are not). I can’t deny that music could have a beneficial effect on our gameplay (while playing online I regurarly listen to some soothing tunes) and it undeniably has an effect to calm us down after a bad beat. The ideal solution would probably be to take along a portable mp3 player with some decent but not flashy headphones that weigh down our head and just listen to music for a few seconds when in need of escape from the dull sounds of the poker world in order to sort out our thoughts and adjust our minds.

What are your opinions? 

Dame Edna