What's in a Name?
A quick note... in ten hours I'll be playing in the $600 Aussie Million B Satellite on Party Poker. I'm gunning for a free trip to Melbourne to play in the Australian Poker Championships, and the chance to meet Heafy from Poker on Film. Stop by if you like at 11:15 pm EST.
So... what's the significance behind people's online poker screen names?
With the recent poker boom, all the good online names are being snatched up quickly. And if you have a common real name, your chances of getting something unique on Party Poker is very slim. Some names make me chuckle. Others make me shiver in disgust.
Most of the names break down in a few categories. And I'll briefly speak about each.
Rounders' Characters: You've seen those guys. I call them the least creative of the bunch; Worm36, MikeMcD14, and JoeyKnish69 to name a few. And so many players have adopted these names that if you try to ask Party Poker for TeddyKGB, you'll end up getting TeddyKGB23145566. Outside of the pokerati, no one understands that reference, but inside my apartment I poke fun at you and label you a big Rounders geek in my notes. Hey MikeMcD14, try slowplaying a flopped straight against me and I'll shove every one of Teddy KGB's Oreos up your least favorite orifice.
Poker Pros: There are a bunch of online players in cyberworld who take on the personae of their favorite pros; AnnieDuke1234, TexasDolly54, GusHansen618178, and Fossilman666. Unfortunately, sharing the same online name as a pro is about as close they are going to come to making a final table at a WSoP event, especially when they chase gutshot straight draws or call all-in raises with bottom pair. I wanna play against those folks.
Poker Terminology: Those folks decide to use a cool catch phrases as their screen name and sometimes try to tweak it. RiverBeat. FloppedQuads. JacksUp. Some of them are cheesy. But others are very clever. Those might be some of the creative names out there.
Jumble Guys: Those are the folks who use an odd mixture of letters and numbers as their names: ksiiik474kfoek or dhduggt2831142. Good luck getting Party Poker Support on the phone and telling them your account name if you ever run into a glitch and your table freezes.
Drug/Marijuana References: For some of you older hippies, you might be digging on the vibes of the younger-drug-MTV-chic-culture. If not, I'll clue you into various slang that some slackers would use in their screen names. Anything with Bong or 420 or Puff or Blunt usually indicates that the player at your table is a proud pothead, and usually (but not limited to) from the Northern California or Pacific Northwest area. Chances that they are stoned while playing are... well... pretty high. These are the players with names like: Fatty420, PuffintheAM, Bluntorama, Deadhead69, HighGirl420.
Fictional Characters: I play under a name of a popular 70s TV character. I had to change my first name after I realized I had people stalking me at the tables. Lots of James Bond references and literary ones too. The Simpson's references always make me laugh; DuffMan765, AllyMcBeal4, Frankie007, Morpheus541, and KilgoreTrout4.
Musical References: I've seen a few Phish and Grateful Dead related names, as well as a few titles of random Motown tunes and old jazz standards. Some of the younger generation likes to use rappers and other hip hop references to spice up their screen names.
Inside Jokes and Nicknames: Those are players using their real world nicknames, like BigMike33 or SmellyEd.
Location: These are folks who can't come up with an original name, so they use their city or state as part of their screen name. AmarilloSteve, JoeyTX, HawaiiMary, CincyLou. I always ask them how the weather is.
Year of Birth or Graduation: Here's a tip. If you see a number after someone's name and it's the last two digits of a year, chances are that person was born in said year, or graduated college or high school in that year. JonJay56 is either 56 years old, or most likely born in 1956. AlexD82 id probably a college kid. And HellBoy06, is probably also a college boy and will get his degree in two more years. Sure, I could be totally wrong here, but again, I'm making a snap decision on the fly. You have to attempt to size up online players quickly and age, to me, makes a huge difference. Chances are older players play more conservatively than younger players and will trap you when they have the nuts. On the other side, younger players who were influenced by TV and the popularity of the WPT, tend to play wilder, looser, and more aggressively than they folks in older generations. Some of these people could be using their old numbers that they wore during high school athletic glory days. My old hoops and hockey number was #3, so I like to add that sometimes. But I'm willing to bet that some folks are too lazy to come up with anything else, so they pick their year of birth to make their screen name unique.
Location, Location, Location
What's in a location? It wasn't my intent to speak about a player's location, but it's something I'll address for a few moments. On Party Poker, you can see where someone is from. Will that give you an edge? Sometimes. Here's some more broad generalizations.
European cities: Most European players are aggressive preflop bettors. This is not to say that they are loose. It's just that they don't play as tighter preflop as so many of the Sklansky disciples out there. I'm not telling you to call every single on of their bets preflop. But if you see a city of European origin and the guy ends to raise a lot, you might consider calling with one of your marginal hands (especially in late position) because you could have the best hand.
Las Vegas & Henderson: If I see either places mentioned (Henderson is a suburb of Vegas), I try to avoid playing with them, especially heads up. Are all online players from Vegas sharks? I'd rather not find out.
Canadian Players: Our Northern neighbors breed some of the toughest and fiercest competition in the poker world. There's some good players out there, so beware. Canadian players make a living off of greedy, stupid, fat Americans who chase nut flushes and call top pair all the way to the river. Knowing the big cities is easy. But familiarize yourself with some smaller Canadian town names and suburbs, like Carberry, Moosejaw, and New Glasgow.
College Towns: Ann Arbor, Pullman, Madison. Those towns are filled with bored, inebriated college kids with tons of free time and Daddy's money on their hands. Back to my generalization about younger players under the age of 24, especially with parentally funded bankrolls... those are loose and aggressive types, and a young gun with a belly full of cold pizza and a six Jello-shots from a college town is more likely to bluff with second pair and an inside straight draw.
Retirement Communities: Places in Arizona, New Mexico, Arkansas, and Florida are filled with bored, retired Americans looking to waste their time away blowing their social security checks on Party Poker. Older players tend to be more conservative. When a player from Jupiter, FL pushes me all in on a flop with all rags, chances are he has a bigger hand than then hungover frat boy from Madison.
Again, all these are just generalizations that I've encountered over my last six months playing online at Party Poker. I'm sure there are fish living in Vegas who are playing online. I'm sure we have WWII vets in college towns and Europeans aboard playing tight. But for the most part, you have to quickly profile your opponents if you wish to seek a greater edge.