What’s in a name? In the world of online poker, a screen name can mean many things.
Or sometimes, nothing at all.
What to consider with an online poker name
A persona is something to ponder while we await the launch of online poker in Pennsylvania.
A name could be a bluff or deflection, such as a girly name for a guy. For instance, Cindy34 might be a dude. Some male players have gone so far as to create an entire false female identity, hoping opponents will play them differently.
A name may be meant to intimidate, invoking a mythical figure of great power, such as Isildur from Lord of the Rings.
Or it might show a depth of knowledge about the game, or maybe it is just funny. Or both.
Humor can be a good online choice
How else to explain Acehole? It is at once self-deprecatingly funny and also “indicates you know a certain amount about how to play,” one poker veteran says.
Unless, of course, it is just a bluff.
Don’t give away too much online
While a handful of players use their real names or some variation, most of those who play online like the relative anonymity of selecting a screen name because a pseudonym doesn’t offer any tells.
As Mike, a veteran player online in New Jersey says, he keeps extensive notes on those he plays against, hoping for a psychological advantage about how his competition plays the game.
That’s fairly common with serious players.
That was harder to do a few years back when the pool online was huge and booming, says Mike.
But with a smaller number of players in the pool of poker players now, according to Mike, it’s difficult to remain unknown these days.
Notes on a player can be formidable tools, he explains, especially with the tracking stats compiled by what is known as a heads-up display, or HUD, which tracks a player’s hand history. HUDs are allowed on some sites, but not all.
Don’t include telling info with your handle
While many online players use numbers in their online handle, using a birth year which gives away clues about your age or generation or a clue about how long you have played poker might not be to your advantage, unless it is a red-herring or simply a lucky number, says Mike.
While you don’t want to give away that you are a clueless newcomer, there can be some advantages to hinting that you are still learning.
Mike likes the name Newbie, for instance, because other players may make assumptions and play differently against Newbie than they might against someone named ThortheDestroyer.
But innocuous and not memorable might be a good choice for names if your goal is to stay in the background. I mean, who is going to remember KCS1234?
Some online names jump out
On the other hand, some names do stand out:
- OJ Limpsin
Keep in mind, some opponents will ask about the origins of a nickname using the chat function. The players I spoke with say they sometimes answer questions usually with a cheeky story, but Mike turns off the chat when opponents go too far.
And, while you can actually find online poker name generators, Mike thinks that’s a bad idea.
Make it personal, just not too personal
“People put thought into the name they choose,” says Mike, whose own poker name comes from a lucky event in his life as a poker dealer in a live poker room.
He’d previously used a variation of his dog’s name as his online handle, but he likes the connection to luck, which comes with the name he uses now.
“Choose a name that has personal meaning to you. I think that’s what most people do,” he says.