As they say, eyes are the windows to your soul. They are believed to give a lot of information on your mood, intentions, etc.
In poker, one of the ways to outsmart your opponent is to recognize tells — unconscious behaviors that would potentially reveal the true strength of their hand. Some of these tells involve his/her eye movement.
Is he staring at the flop a little too long? Maybe he missed it and is now looking for ways to fix it. You get the point. Probably most of you have noticed some revealing eye movements of your opponents that you could use to your advantage.
Staring at your opponent for too long for tells till it gets a little weird? You wearing sunglasses means that fellow-players simply can’t tell if and when you are staring at them. This gives you time to observe each one of them, giving you additional information about their game. Of course, given that you are a good people reader as sunglasses alone are not going to do the trick.
For some of you introverts out there, a pair of shaded frames on your noses creates the illusion of more privacy which is essential for you to play your own game. It has nothing to do with confidence. It has to do with the feeling of you having the personal space that you need in order to better focus on your game. You can kind of pretend that you are somewhere else, psychologically distancing your-self from your fellow-players. Whatever makes you feel comfortable!
Some poker players wear sunglasses for confidence boost. Knowing that pros cannot read you as easily as without the shades, your confidence level rises and you play better instead of focusing on your nerves the whole time. It creates the sense of security, knowing that your eyes are covered and that the opponents cannot read your tells – an important aspect of the overall psychological preparedness, as Frank Wise, the author of Eat Professional Poker Players Alive, points out.
Even some pros feel better wearing shades. That is when they play against other hardcore pros. Jonathan Little is definitely pro sunglasses in these situations.
“I think in general sunglasses are good for the game. They give players more confidence to play, they’re able to show up and play their own game. I know if I had to play at a table with a bunch of Phil Iveys (10 WSOP bracelets!), I just wouldn’t play unless I could wear sunglasses because I would not feel confident enough in my abilities. So, it gives players the ability to play better.”
The increased level of comfort and confidence can level the playing field a little. For example, you are a good player but your poker face let’s you down from time to time. So, mitigate that leak with a pair of shades and see if it makes a difference.
We all know that a pair of well chosen sunglasses can make you look super cool. Don’t we all want to look cool from time to time? Especially at live events where there are a punch of photographers present and your chances of getting a cool “shaded” pic of you published on a poker site are pretty high.
The older you get, the less important the “cool” aspect gets. But for some younger players, sunglasses are definitely a fashion statement. Think of all the shapes and frame colors available. Great, isn’t it? There are even digital ones that can be super fun as you can program these to display any text you want.
We have nothing against people’s fashion choices.
Some believe that sunglasses let players cheat more easily, giving them a completely unfair advantage in the game. Talk about marking the cards with invisible ink and seeing the marks with a pair of altered sunglasses. Would it work? Certainly, the likelihood of somebody trying this method is higher when shades are allowed.
In general, with all the advances in tech, some believe that cheating by counting cards with the help of wearable devices is going to go up. It is yet to be seen, the fate of sunglasses in live poker.
Daniel Negreanu is strongly against wearing sunglasses in poker. He has voiced his opposition to shades in his blog.
“If anyone wants to start a petition to ban them in any form of poker whether it’s tournaments, cash games, or televised events I’d do whatever I could to help . . . You should always be uncomfortable playing high stakes poker against someone wearing sunglasses. I’m not making this up, it’s just a fact. Banning sunglasses helps to protect the integrity of the game against cheating. For that reason alone, they should be completely outlawed from poker.”
Moreover, Negranu believes that being able to see your opponent – eyes and all – is the main and the most important factor, differentiating online poker from live poker. He is right. But is he right about banning sunglasses entirely? It’s a matter of debate.
This summer, we will have two stops. One in London on July 11th – 15th and the second one in Sunny Beach, Bulgaria on August 8th – 12th. Register here for the London stop or if you can’t make it to London, register here for Bulgaria stop. Bring your sunglasses! Wink-wink.
Sunny hugs! <3
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