How Much Banter is Too Much Banter at the Poker Table?
The poker table is a place for all walks of life. There are quiet people and loud people. Some love to interact with other players and some don't. We spoke with four of the biggest personalities during the Opening Event here at the 888poker London Live Festival and found out what makes them tick when it comes to talking poker at the table.
We started by asking our players what they thought of the William Kassouf hand at the World Series of Poker Main Event. In case you've been living in a cave, Kassouf was involved in a controversial situation when tournament director Jack Effel gave him an orbit's penalty after he used table talk to induce Stacy Matuson into a crucial fold. Had she called, Kassouf may well have missed out on his 13th-place finish, but the poker world is split on whether his talk (and subsequent hand motions) were OK. We're British - but are we fans of being more reserved than the legendary "Nine-high like a boss!" player?
Arron Fletcher: I think the Kassouf hand was blown out of proportion because it [involved] a female player which is highly sexist and silly. If you can't handle it, don't play. He's obviously annoying, but I really like him. It's entertaining and if it wasn't for him, the WSOP Main Event would be unwatchable. William Kassouf is fine and I love it.
Steve Watts: Love the 'Nine high like a boss'! I want as much banter as possible. Swearing, cursing and bullying people isn't good, obviously, but any table talk that encourages people into calling or folding is good.
Each of our four players have their own style. Teddy Sheringham is naturally more reserved at the table, for example, while Watts and Charles Chattha can often be heard discussing hands, European football and news within the poker industry.
Teddy Sheringham: I think everyone has their own rules. It's like celebrating a goal in football; some have extravagant celebrations, some haven't. That's just the way it is.
Charles Chattha: I think full banter should be encouraged; everything goes. You shouldn't take playing the game too seriously. I don't personally. I like to have fun. Obviously if you're playing for big money, sometimes you take it a bit more seriously, but at the same time, you have to play the game in good spirits.
If there is a limit in terms of talking, maybe it comes down to that celebration of a winning hand. In poker, even more so in life, one player's gain is quite literally at the cost of another. No chips are ever won without being lost by another person. So can talking turn into berating a player if you're not careful?
Arron Fletcher: I don't know what's too much. Some people deserve berating! But really, most of the people doing the berating are bad players and you don't want to stop them having fun! It's the same view I have about slowrolling. If that's what gives them kicks, then it's fine.
Times change in poker, of course. There was a time when it was almost expected to be part of the action at a live poker table.
Steve Watts: I started the game in the Jamie Gold era and I used to use table talk all the time, but I'm quieter now. I feel like I have a stronger game. Before I used to be carefree and muck about. When they're not that good, they talk, but William Kassouf has improved a hell of a lot.
All four of our players will be looking to celebrate victories in the forthcoming £880 Main Event and £2200 High Roller events as part of this week's incredible 888Poker London Live Festival. We look forward to seeing how they celebrate winning a crucial hand or even the tournaments themselves!