Online poker strategists are always looking for another angle, a new way to gain an advantage against their opponents. Poker tells are multifarious in the live realm, but not so easy to come by in online gameplay without spending a good deal of time observing a player’s actions and reactions. But there is a way to gather information on an opponent before ever playing a single hand against them.
I’m referring to an online poker player’s chosen alias. It’s one of the few things we have complete control over in this world. The way we represent ourselves through nicknames can speak volumes as to who we are as a person. And while many of us see that as a wonderful perk, it can actually be a major disadvantage when competing against the most perceptive online poker pros.
Think about your own nickname for a moment – assuming you have an online poker account, or any other online account that requires the creation of a unique username. What qualities does it contain that might provide information to others? Are there numbers involved? Is it derived from a popular television, movie or video game character? We’ll examine a few of these scenarios and the poker tells they give off.
Numbers are often the worst thing you can use in an online poker nickname, depending on why they were chosen. If you typed out a name, and it was already taken, so you simply added a “1” to it, there’s not much information being exuded by it, aside from the fact that someone else took the name you wanted first. But if you used something like “MyName1994” or “MyName82”, it could tell others that you are 20 or 32 years of age.
If it’s a more recent notation of a year, like “MyName2013” or “MyName09”, it might denote that you have been playing online poker for 1 or 5 years. For reasons I won’t bother explaining, use of the number “69” in a name should simply be ignored. The number “420”, on the other hand, means the player is probably a pot head, which could work for or against you, depending on their level of cannabis-induced concentration.
Use of a character name can give away a lot of information as well. The name “FFLightning”, for instance, would tell me that the player is a huge fan of the lead female character, Lightning, in the 2010 (worldwide release) role-playing video game, Final Fantasy XIII, or the early-2014 sequel, Lightning Returns. The majority of RPG fans are in the late teens to early twenties, signifying the player’s probable age range.
When an online poker name alludes to their style of gameplay, such as “NoFoldMalone” or “TooWeakJohnny”, you should naturally assume that they are representing the opposite of their true playing style. Malone will fold under pressure, and Johnny is by no means weak. In the same token, the use of alpha-numeric symbols in a name, such as “H01d3mMast3rm1nd”, tends to indicate a player’s complex consideration of hands and opponents. Just as the name is somewhat difficult to read, the player may use complex, alternating strategies that are hard to read as well.