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What`s in a name?

by Jeremiad1971 

Posted: 01 January 2007
Word Count: 963
Summary: A poker player tries to predict the character of his online opponents based on their screen nick names

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What’s in a name?

The use of nicknames in no–limit internet poker can lead to some interesting confrontations, made even more perilous with the knowledge that an all too easy mouse click can consign you to doom. Depending on one’s emotional state, it’s a world where everyone is a bogeyman or a sucker, transitional icons between poverty and wealth.

Some give Freudian clues to insecurities – “Superman”, “The Destroyer” or “PushurPooin” – but it is advisable to tread warily around solid, functional names like “redlark”, “Virginia gent” or “Fossilman”.

I used to deploy my real name, but, after a while, I decided to launch into this world of ego projection, believing I could use it to my advantage.

My first attempts at originality were not successful and, after forty-five minutes of forehead slapping anxiety, the best I could offer was “RandomNoun”. However, I wanted a name that reflected something so, with a nod to the crippling immaturity inherent in a pro player, I settled for “grazedknee”, casting players back to days of kiss chase and off-ground tick.

On the second day, a player typed something in the chat, directed at me. As most online sharks are playing multiple tables, it is rare to see anything in the chat box, unless you take someone’s stack and they provide intimate personal histories. Apparently, my mother was sexually loose with Nebraskan Lasso Man and the other occupants of his farm.

However, this time the entry was so good it nearly caused impromptu sock removal.

“Grazedknee, are you a Native American?”

Fantastical images of my birth and events leading up to my naming ritual distracted me from my deliberations on the best way to play ten jack suited from late position.
Somewhat rattled I explained, politely, I live in London and my alpha helix is a farrago of English and Irish DNA. He “lol’ed” his question off but the exchange stimulated a hitherto silent character, ominously named Marin68.


For all I knew he was a teddy clutching dummy sucker but the use of capital letters is usually a bad sign. For me, it suggested he had been at My Lai and wanted to syringe my nostrils full of Marmite to a backdrop of James Blunt.

I ignored his question but a few hands later, I was contesting a pot with him. I folded when he made the kind of raise that makes you feel like a rabbit and he’s holding you by the ears over a bubbling pot. I typed the sporting “nh”, for nice hand. My reward was:

Christ, what did he expect? I was a teenager in the eighties and the closest I came to international conflict was playing Risk. Somehow, I suspected Marin68 was not going to sympathise with my battlefield report of the odds-against massacre of my forces at Siam.

(There was the slow, craps style tumble, three sixes appeared, my fate was sealed and I still have nightmares when I see blue dice.)

My options were fabrication, desertion, or, after some thought, manipulation. Eric Berne in his book “Games People Play” uses poker as an example of a type of transaction between two people called “Now I Have Got You, You SOB”. The personality clash surrenders poker efficiency to a desire to guffaw at the losses of the other.

Player A is dealt an unbeatable hand and is too busy cackling over the prospect of inflicting damage to Player’s B stack that he actually plays poor poker. However, unbeatable hands, “the nuts”, are rare at Texas Hold ‘em and becoming someone’s boo-boy can be an advantage, especially if you have position.

“Was ’68 the year you went AWOL or were you court martialed?” That seemed to have the desired effect as a series of ***** appeared in the chat and he started raising every hand. I was now playing against a maniac and although that was what I wanted, I would have to be very careful as he wasn’t going to fold any hands and I didn’t want luck to play a strong part.

The trick is patience. Avoid marginal holdings; when the time is right, let them come to you.

Marin was steaming, intimidating the rest of the table and had taken the last ten pots by simply hammering people with huge bets on the flop. However, finally, a hand hit me: pocket Kings. I was first to act. I called the blinds, expecting Marvin to cock the hammer. Everyone folded to him. He was last to act and made a small raise, less than I expected, but it still gave me a chance. I could now re-raise. He would find it impossible to resist the chance to empty my pockets.

I made the minimum raise. He came straight back at me. I had him.

I put him in for his entire stack.


What was he doing?


He called my bet. The site has a moment when both players are all in before it turns the cards over.

I knew I had given him my money.

The cards flipped.

For once, there was no exclamation against bad luck, there was no kipper across the kisser.

I had been outplayed.

He had aces.

This person who I had assumed had the personality of Christopher Walken on a low serotonin day had just got me to put in all my money on a long shot. I was the one playing “Now I’ve got you…”

I had assumed I had his measure, I was deluded by concepts of my own superiority and I had been bewitched by his moniker

“Sorry Knee – guess you’ll need more T.C.P.”

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Comments by other Members

roger at 16:59 on 14 March 2007  Report this post
Hi David,

I've just found this and I like it; some great lines; I LOLd at -'Apparently, my mother was sexually loose with Nebraskan Lasso Man and the other occupants of his farm.'

I think that if there's a problem it's that the piece is in fact quite technical. I'm an ex-gambler (horses, not poker)and I understand it, but I wonder if most other people will. If they start to read and DON'T understand, they're unlikely to conrinue. So, it's very specialist and I'm not sure where it would fit in. Are there any specialist poker mags that take humourous pieces like this? If so, I'd try them because the piece is worth it - just needs the right home.

I enjoyed the read.


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