Just like any other media driven sport in the world, poker has its own fashion and its own distinct look. And just like all other sport related looks, the 'poker look' stems from the stars of the sport. You have your jerseys from sports like football and hockey, polo shirts from golf, the suburban look of x-treme athletes and many other looks. But what exactly is the 'poker look'?
A month ago I made my first trip to Vegas and of course went straight to the poker rooms. Staying at the Mirage I naturally went to their poker room first to dip my feet in the pool of Vegas poker. Seeing as this was my first time in Vegas and not too sure what sort of players I was up against I decided to hit a $1/$2 limit table first.
As I sat down I gave a general greet to everyone and managed to only get a reply from one person, some old guy with a comb over who winked at me. Except for the scary old guy it was a pretty cold reception but I was here to play not make friends anyway.
After about half an hour I could already see a pattern. I was being excluded from all conversations and more importantly they where all being a lot more aggressive in their play towards me. After 30 minutes of this I got a little annoyed, so I took the little bit I had won and headed to the nearby pizza place to get something to eat.
While waiting for my order I noticed one of the players from the table I was playing at placing an order. Curious as to the way I was treated on the table I walked up the guy and talked to him. After quickly introducing myself and mentioning how I noticed him at the table I got straight to the point and asked, "not to be rude or anything but I noticed that the players at the table where a little hostile towards me. Is there any reason for that?"
Taking off his leather cowboy hat he looked at me and in a thick Texan accent replied, "don't take it too hard son, we do that to all the casual players that waltz on in."
Seeing as the cold reception was pretty much instantaneous and the fact I played a reasonable game for the hour I was there I had to ask, "but how did you know I was a casual player?"
Laughing the guy replied, "Look at the way you are dressed!"
So I went back to the room to exam my attire seeing as I didn't want this treatment the whole time. In the room I checked myself in the mirror to find myself wearing my boots, jeans and t-shirt. A little casual but I thought I had seen other people wearing the same in the room, though they could have been 'casual players' too.
I knew I needed to do some research so I switched on the television in the room and turned to ESPN where I managed to get lucky with the World Series Of Poker running. Grabbing the notepad near the phone and a pen I nabbed from the front desk I glued myself to the television screen and took notes for the next couple of hours determined to find the poker look.
After the WSOP finished up on ESPN I checked over my notes and discovered that there was indeed a poker look. In fact I had observed that there were a few distinct poker looks. They fell into four categories.
Firstly there is the old school poker look, which is mainly worn by the old school players, although there are a few newer players that had adopted the look. This look involves a cowboy hat of some design, usually a sports jacket that doesn't necessarily have to match the rest of the outfit and in many cases big glasses.
Secondly there is the mid generation geek look which consists of no real style at all except the most plain shirt possible, maybe a comb over and in many cases a sweater.
Thirdly there is the 'big player' look worn by the players who try to impress while they play. All that is needed for this look is a nice shirt, not quite buttoned up all the way, a gold chain or two and a haircut that Tom Cruise would envy.
The most popular look though is the more modern new generation poker look. What's needed for this look is any combination of sunglasses, an mp3 player, a baseball cap and some piece of clothing that has some poker phrase/logo.
So with this information in hand all I needed to do now was pick a look. First one was out of the question as I wasn't going to buy a cowboy hat just for playing poker and I try to wear jackets as little as possible. Scribbled out the second one without even blinking. Third one wasn't really any good either as I have to dress up for work and I play poker to have fun and relax.
So that left me with option four, which wouldn't be too hard to throw together. I couldn't play at the Mirage, as they would know me for the fraud I was. So the next day I left the Mirage with my mp3 player, my Oakley's and picked myself up a hat that said 'I am king' with a big king of hearts in the middle.
A friend of mine who had come on the trip wanted to check out the MGM grand so we headed over there where of course I headed straight to the poker room. Quite impressed with the look of the place I had arrived just in time for a tournament.
In my full poker get up I headed to my table where I once again made a general hello and was greeted by hellos and even a few names. I was in! Sitting down I put my chips on the table and got ready to experience the inner poker world. Unfortunately things spiraled downwards from there.
First mishap came shortly after the tournament started where I picked up pocket queens. I raised pre-flop and two players came in to see Q 10 3 off suite drop which would have been great except I was tapping away to the music that I hadn't noticed that it had come to my turn to act. The dealer seeing me tapping away at the table took me as checking. A king dropped next giving one of the players his busted straight and eventually the pot. Not happy I immediately took out the headphones and shoved my mp3 player into my backpack.
I managed to take the knock and get back into the game and was doing fine until an hour later when I found I was continuously scratching my scalp. I suddenly remembered that I didn't wear hats because they had a tendency to irritate my head. So the hat joined my mp3 player in the bottom of my bag, though I still was looking the part with my Oakley's.
Not long after that the final straw fell. I was dealt A K of spades so I raised and was seen by one player. Down flopped 2 8 J of spades, so I had drawn the highest flush with very little chance of being beaten. First to act I of course check and then proceed to call his bet. Down drops an ace of hearts again I check and he bets which I call. Last card drops and it's a rag card and playing this out long enough I bet big. He then raises and this results in me going all in to see his cards, which turn out to be A J.
Now at this point I am ecstatic and turn over my cards revealing the flush only to see the dealer push the stack towards the other player. I take of my sunglasses to see the cards better to discover that one of the spades is in fact a club. Of course the glasses go into the backpack and with the last of my costume disappearing and the hoax being revealed I am sneered as I leave the table.
Going back to the Mirage and my room with my tail between my legs I turn on the television and switch to ESPN and decided to leave the poker fashion to others, next time I am just going to play cards.