Playing the Player: 8 Common Poker Personalities

Poker is not just a game of luck and skill. It also showcases your inherent nature. Find out what's your Poker personality.

Diwali is akin to Christmas in North India. So while the Covid-19 virus has put a dampener on the most part of 2020, there is still a glimmer of light, hope and positivity as we approach the end of this year. I think mostly everyone is just looking forward to welcoming 2021. As if the new year will eradicate the pandemic and we will wake up on 1st Jan in a utopic world. Nevertheless, there is a festive spirit in the (polluted Delhi) air as we all look forward to meeting friends and family, and following traditions – one of them being indulging in a game of cards.

Continuing the Diwali Tradition

Playing cards close to Diwali is a tradition that we have followed since as long as I can remember. This is the only time when the cops turn a blind eye to the blatant celebration involving gambling, which is otherwise illegal in the country. It is said that the Gods too indulged in a light game of betting and playing cards. So why can’t we, mere mortals, do the same? Naturally, this year too plans have been made to continue the ritual. Arvind and I recently attended one of these ‘cards-night’. It was a night of moderate losses – He broke even and I was down by INR 500. As long as one has a good time, it hardly matters. Playing cards on Diwali is like decorating the Christmas tree – If you have many Christmas trees and a possibility of being broke by the end of the activity.

A couple of days back, on one of our drinking dates, Arv casually mentioned that a game of cards can reveal much about the person. I was intrigued. I do love a game of Poker or Flash, but beyond a source of entertainment or a ‘game-night’ pick I had never looked at playing cards as a way to assess people’s personality. I contested his argument. “Just because I show a lackadaisical attitude when I lose a game doesn’t mean I am careless about finances in may day-to-day life” I replied, feeling pretty smug and pleased with my reasoning.

I was so wrong!

Arv, with his gift of the gab, went on to explain something that was hiding in plain sight all along. The only game that reveals the players survival instincts is a game of cards. (By ‘only’ he meant a game that doesn’t involve violence or a need to actually put your survival instincts to test) **There is of course a caveat to this statement – the stakes of the game should be moderately high.

So What is my Survival Instinct?

As much as I hate to admit this, he is 100% on point. I love a game of Poker and I am aware of its unpredictability. So before sitting for a game, I mentally prepare myself to lose a significant chunk of money – I’ve figured that’s the only way to play Poker. 

However, if in a night, I lose 10 consecutive games there will be a point where I’ll lose my patience. I’ll complain and blame my bad luck. Only once I have enough assurance from my friends, I will continue playing. Turns out I just need a little push, and this is true in real life too. Any hardship and my first reaction is to bemoan my luck. Once I get positive assurances from Arv and my family, I am ready to carry on again.

The more I think about it the more it makes sense. In the last four years, I’ve played enough Poker with different sets of friends to narrow down a bunch of obvious Poker personalities.

8 Most Common Poker Personalities:

  1. The Aggressor: Just like his game, his real-life persona is loud, racist and down-right demeaning. In a game of Poker you would find him taking heavy risks accompanied by excessive drinking. It’s all fine as long as he wins. Once his losses start, watch-out for the nasty mood.
  2. The Pacifier: An exact opposite of the above. When it’s time to go head-to-head with someone, he is mostly like to fold his cards to avoid a face-off. In a real life situation he will walk away from an altercation. 
  3. The Joker: He likes to keep everything light and fun. A tense situation in real life or a game, he will be the first one to crack a joke, often at his own expense. It’s fun to have these guys around.
  4. The Cheater: There are quite a few of these around. They turn a blind eye to the rules of the game and are not so hung up about morals in real life too.
  5. The Discreet: They make the best Poker players. Their face shows no emotion. They tend to talk less while playing and give nothing away. They carry this personality in real life too. Meet them at a party and they would be the last one to break an awkward silence.
  6. The Victim: I have The Victim personality. Complaining and self-pitying takes the edge off and almost gives you a reason to continue to be part of the game. Same goes in real life. 
  7. The Bully: He is the guy who gets restless if he doesn’t win a hand every couple of rounds. These players like to be liked. They are the popular ones who enjoy being the centre of attraction. They like the win, but unlike the Aggressors they don’t start breaking glasses if they don’t win. Instead, they raise the stakes and bully people out of the game. 
  8. The Distractor: He will have a 100 questions during the game, and 90% of them will be asked during his turn. He uses distraction as a way to assess other’s cards and to make a decision. Have a conversation with him outside the game, and the trait continues in the form of off the topic questions and latest gossip.

Personalities are ever evolving and can rarely be slotted in a single mould. The above is not an exhaustive list. You can also have mixed personalities. Once after a long night of no wins, I tried to be The Bully and failed miserably. 

What kind of personalities have you met at the playing table? Do you find their behaviour mirror real life situations?

Featured Image by Amanda Jones on Unsplash

3 comments on “Playing the Player: 8 Common Poker Personalities

  1. So interesting to read about Diwali. Thank you 😊


  2. Very interesting! I really like learning about your holiday and tradition of cards! My family is very large and we also love to play cards when we get together. However we do not play poker or anything for money. I love the idea of the different personality types when it comes to cards. I don’t see one that I would recognize as myself – maybe because I’ve never really gambled. What a fun post, thank you I enjoyed reading it!

    Liked by 1 person

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