One of the things my students comment on the most during our lessons, other than my good looks and quick wit, is my focus on opponent profiling. You can’t put someone on a range if you don’t know who they are. While I usually assign all kinds of homework to improve their understanding of other human beings, there are an awful lot of people who are too lazy to put in that much work.
So … in the interest of fairness, I thought I’d just give the information away here on CardsChat rather than charging for the information and paying my mortgage. It is widely known that I hate money, and this article is just more proof. So, without any further absurdity, I offer you eight personality types you might encounter at the WSOP tables, and how to play against them.
If you study this guide you are virtually guaranteed to make a final table this year.*
Old Man Coffee
You’ll run into this guy fairly often at the smaller buy-in events and in most mixed-game tournaments. You’ll know him because he will be grumbling about something, usually how long the drink service is taking. In a mixed game event he will be obsessively counting the hands because he alone is aware that playing one too many hands of Omaha High-Low can change the whole course of the tournament and ruin everything. Oh, and he’ll be drinking coffee and be so old that his social security number would only be playable for the low.
Old Man Coffee, or OMC, will play approximately two hands per hour. If he wins them both he will believe poker is finally fair. If he loses one, he will be fairly quiet. If he loses both, he will grumble under his breath incessantly and complain about the slow service even more than usual.
You can beat OMC by avoiding him when he makes an oversized preflop raise. Just fold when he raises and go back to stealing his blinds orbit after orbit. If he is playing better than is typical, you can tilt him by asking him if he ever got the coffee he was waiting for, bringing up what a great president Jimmy Carter was, or telling him about your favorite EDM songs.
The Big Fan
If you’ve played at the WSOP in previous years, you already know this one. Perhaps you were this person. I certainly was the first few times I was able to play a bracelet event, though I’d like to think I was a little more casual about it than most. Still, it’s hard to act like you’ve been there before when you haven’t actually been there before. You’ll spot this one because they will be wearing a new WSOP-branded hoodie and be taking photos of their chip stack during level two.
The Big Fan will be fairly tight the first few levels. They are enjoying the experience and don’t want to go broke before they’ve had a chance to take it all in. And most of their time will be spent telling you a story about how they met Phil Hellmuth once. They will then patiently listen to another Big Fan tell them a story about meeting Daniel Negreanu at a charity event and follow up with their story about seeing Phil Ivey at the airport last year. This will be followed up by a few poker rumors they’ve heard, and a story about their pal who made a final table in a circuit event last year.
If you want to beat the Big Fan, just crack their big pair. They’ll raise a little more than usual, to let you know they have a big hand, and if you flop two pair or better, and plan it out carefully, you’ll win a big pot from them. It will be hard to really put them on tilt, they’re just having too much fun, but they are easily distracted by pointing out famous players at nearby tables. If there aren’t any famous players within your line of sight, just make one up.
“See that guy over there? That’s Mitchell Bransky. He’s Doyle’s illegitimate son. He and Todd Brunson got in a fistfight a few years ago in a huge cash game in California. Ted Forrest tried to break it up and ended up with a separated shoulder. Neither of them are allowed in the Commerce anymore.”
This guy will be a common sight at the WSOP. He will be easily recognized because his face will be 78, but his hair will be jet black or dark reddish brown. He will look utterly ridiculous. He will be wearing a long sleeve shirt with the cuffs turned in to reveal a different pattern inside, shoes that were trendy three years ago, and blue jeans that cost at least two hundred dollars.
Grandpa Hairplugs will not play particularly well, but he won’t make many crazy bluffs. This is because, and this may seem crazy given his appearance, he hates to be embarrassed. If he has a hand good enough not to be embarrassed, he will call off happily. As long as someone can say “Nah, you have to call there” when he tells the story later, he doesn’t mind calling. He won’t be particularly aggressive or loose, so shouldn’t pose a big problem.
You can beat GH by waiting for a real hand and betting it carefully all the way. If you don’t push too hard, he will call you down. And folding if he puts in a big raise is key as well, since he won’t be running big bluffs. You can also distract him by pointing out a young girl in the tournament area, or just telling him that he looks great for his age and then letting him talk about how well he takes care of himself for an hour.
Action Jackson (AJ)
You can spot an AJ because he is talking a lot, but not about where he’s from or what the biggest poker celebrities are doing. He is only interested in one thing – action. He’ll be talking about prop bets, trying to negotiate new prop bets, and trying to get you to bet red or black on the next flop for a ridiculous amount of money. AJ will almost always be male, women are too smart to be betting their entire net worth every weekend, and he will be wearing fairly expensive clothing, possibly a sports jersey or just a $40 V-neck t-shirt.
AJ won’t be a bad poker player. He’s been gambling every day for years, and he’s learned a lot from the pros that he often plays with. Those nosebleed stakes pros love him and constantly reassure him that he’s an excellent player so that he’ll keep coming back. He loses a little money to them at the poker table and a lot more on the golf course or betting on sports. He will definitely mention his “friendship” with some well known pros, probably while he is ordering a jack and coke at 2 o’clock in the afternoon.
Beating AJ is all about playing well and being patient. You can’t do much to get him to tilt, his mood is based entirely on whether the Marlins cover the spread tonight. But he isn’t paying a ton of attention to the table and he won’t even notice you if you aren’t willing to bet with him or marvel at the stories of the bets he’s made. So you can surprise him, especially if you wait until the Marlins give up four runs in the ninth and he’s bemoaning his bad luck.
The Backpack Kid
The Backpack Kid will show up in a comfortable hoodie, hang his backpack on the back of his chair, and sit down like he’s going to work. He will say hi to every other circuit grinder within a four table radius, just to make sure that he’s still in with the cool kids and gets to sit at the lunch table with them in the cafeteria. Poker is his identity, his social group, and his source of income. That income might not be much since he only has 12% of himself and is $46,000 in makeup after yet another rough year. If he wins the main for five million he will have nearly $300,000 for himself, which he will burn through in a year of playing only the biggest buy-in tournaments against competition that is way too strong for him. Probably has a man crush on Shawn Deeb.
He won’t talk much and will often have earbuds in. They will be expensive, probably airpods that connect to the newest generation iPhone. He’ll be reasonably tight since he’s probably learned GTO preflop ranges and remembers just enough of them to talk with his poker buddies like he is an expert. He definitely talks a better game than he plays.
Beating the backpack is tough because he plays fairly well. It’s his expenses and his backing deal that leave him constantly broke. In general you should avoid him, especially if he raises from early position. He has a membership to Run It Once or Upswing and has watched quite a few of the videos, though to be honest he wasn’t paying that much attention. He’s certain that he plays well because he’s made a number of final tables and may even have a circuit ring. The only way to tilt him is to keep bringing up how sorry you are for him after he takes a bad beat.
His name might actually be Joey, Mark, or even John, but his personality will be the same. He’s been playing this game a while and he knows how it should be played. And if you don’t respect his game, he’ll have a lot to say about it. He’ll be wearing something from his favorite sports team, probably East coast or Chicago (da bears), and he’ll run his mouth constantly. Don’t worry about spotting him, it would be really tough not to notice him and know exactly who he is. He will tell you where he’s from, and why it’s the best place to be from, within two minutes of meeting you.
Tony only cares about respect. Everyone should fold to his awesome power and he should always win. If you don’t respect his raises, he will be irritated. And you’ll definitely hear about it. So be aware that he hates to be embarrassed and won’t make any play that would look bad if he has to show his cards. He will try to bully you, and he is used to getting his way. If he is betting and begging you to call, he probably has a monster.
You can beat Tony by slow playing your real hands against him or waiting until the turn to raise as a bluff, and giving him a chance to believe he has cleverly figured out your hand. Robbie sincerely believes he is a genius, and he has a GED to prove it. Put him on tilt by bringing up a bad season from his favorite sports team, denigrating his old neighborhood, or offering up the opinion that California is really the best place to live. Mocking his east coast accent also works, though he will definitely be willing to fight you, especially if you refer to him as Bobbie from Boston when he is actually from New York or Chicago and his name is Joey. If you can find a way to secretly order him a ridiculously feminine drink he will lose his mind when it shows up.
The assassin is my least favorite opponent in cash games, and palsy well in tournaments too. She is easily recognized because she is a woman between the ages of 22 and 32, wearing headphones, and stacking your chips. When I play $2/5 games in Vegas, the last thing I want to see is a young Asian woman wearing headphones – it’s the biggest giveaway of a really strong player.
She won’t talk much, because she’s busy thinking about how to own you in the next pot, and because she’s tired of deflecting the unwanted advances of Grandpa Hairplugs. She won’t play a ton of hands either, but when she plays them she will be sticky and hard to bluff. If the pot gets big, you are going to lose it.
If I knew how to beat this particular opponent, I would be rich. The best way to deal with her is to avoid her at all costs. If she raises and you have a big hand, reraise bigger than usual and charge her a high price if she’s going to try to outplay you after the flop. But really, just avoid her. Or slide a floor person a twenty dollar bill to see if they can arrange to move her to a new table.**
Gunter (German Guy with a Fanny Pack)
We’ll call him Gunter, because it’s a lot shorter than his profile name. And you’ll know Gunter by his comfortable European clothing style, and his hearty laugh which you’ll hear often. Honestly, no one will be more openly friendly than Gunter. No, he probably won’t be wearing Lederhosen.
Gunter will play fairly well. He’ll be enjoying himself too much to play really great, but he won’t make big mistakes and he won’t put chips in the middle without a hand. He’s probably played quite a bit of poker in Vegas already because Germans get an amazing amount of time off work and love to travel.
If you want to beat Gunter, you’ll have to distract him. Talk about things like your massive gun collection or how you know multiple people who have gone broke because of medical bills. These things are unheard of in Germany, and he will be baffled. You may also be able to distract him with beer. The beer in America will be garbage to him, but he will still drink it. The downside is that you will be drunk as well, because there is no chance you’ll be able to outdrink him. The best option might be to order yourself a non-alcoholic beer. He will never suspect it because he has no idea that such a thing might even exist, or why.
More To Come…
And that is the end of part 1, but have no fear, I have enough player profiles for at least three more of these articles. I hope this was helpful to you in profiling opponents and knowing how to beat them at the WSOP this year, or that it at least made you laugh.
*Guarantee not valid in Nevada or anywhere else. If you suffer from moderate to severe cluelessness, ask if Fox’s opponent profiles are right for you. Do not use if you are allergic to Fox’s opponent profiles. Some side effects have been reported including bankroll loss, bad beats, and immediate onset explosive diarrhea.
**Floor personnel at the WSOP will not move a player away from your table for a twenty-dollar bill. If you find one willing to do this, please send me their info.