At 3 am, in your own living room or bedroom playing poker online, you can wear most anything at all: ratty pajamas, underwear with little bears on it, or nothing whatsoever. But when you venture out into a real casino to play, other people are around and you are in public (a reality that seems to escape a frighteningly high percentage of visitors to poker rooms around the world). And while clothing might seem inconsequential when you are talking about cards, it really isn't: because how people perceive you will definitely affect how they play you at the tables. Following are some image guidelines to help you present yourself as you want to be seen, while remaining comfortable and perhaps, gasp - even looking good.
Rule #1: Dress for Action
Yes, we mean that in all senses of the word, but since making money must be your #1 priority in a poker room, you want to dress so that people will engage in hands with you, first and foremost. What's the point of playing “perfect” cards, raising once every three hours, and getting everyone to fold so you can take down the blinds? If you're never going to gamble, just stay home and save the dry cleaning bill! Many women dress to be taken “seriously,” or to look like “one of the boys,” but we humbly beg you to consider another line of thought: you will make a lot more money in the hands you do play if you look relatively “girlie,” so that at least a few male players will assume you are dumber than a box of rocks. As a bonus, you will also look fine to the occasional hunka munka you might run into. Showing a tasteful amount of what you're, ahem, made of can only work to your benefit in both arenas. And while men might think this doesn't apply to them, we disagree: if you dress in a ratty hoody with your college's alma mater on it and plaid Bermuda shorts, most players will guess that you have 45,000,000 online poker hands under your belt to date, and conversely that your live people-reading skills might not be totally up to par. On the other hand, dressed in a nicely pressed striped or “clubbing-it” shirt and good jeans, your look says, “I could be a playboy, or an attorney on vacay, or a trust-fund baby,” and will likely get you a lot more chips in the pots you do choose to play.
Rule #2: Cleanliness is Next to Godliness
One cannot address the issue of appearance without also mentioning hygiene, a subject that is often woefully neglected in many poker games we have played in. In the name of your fellow players everywhere, please shower at least daily when you play, wear a good deodorant, and for god's sakes, wash your hair. Sitting inches away from a greasy mass of stringy hair down to someone's shoulders is, at the very least, unappetizing. And remember to wash your hands, that's why they have sinks and soap in the restrooms; hand sanitizer is also a great table accessory at a poker table, since the chips probably haven't been washed since Day One and have more superbugs on them than a pride of lions at high noon in the savannah. You will be doing your small part to keep the planet, and your fellow players, healthier!
Rule#3: Bizarre Adds to the Fun
There might not be anywhere in the world where you see more delusionally-dressed people than in a poker room. Everything from men wearing hair pieces that look like long-dead animals that were sleeping in brambles climbed on their heads, to 75-year-old women with pink hair wearing biker duds, is part of what makes visits (particularly in Vegas) an extremely entertaining outing on any given day. So if “crazy” is your particular fashion style, you might as well indulge your ethos here as anywhere else. This includes old men who still think their beer guts and white chest hair (topped, of course, with a few nice gold medallions and chains) are sexy, baby, and young guys gilded to the max to “impress” the ladies later on at the Vegas nightclub scene in too-tight jeans and oddly-patterned shirts. We are not male-bashing here, let it be noted: there are simply far more guys in any given poker room to make fun of than women, and, let's be honest, women as a group probably are a bit more tuned in to how they present themselves and what's in vogue. Regional and national differences in style also make for “interesting” style choices: what appears to be hip in many Northern European countries, for example, would be considered somewhat ridiculous in most major American metropolises. The question then becomes, do you want to “blend,” or wear your own crazy style proudly? It's your call, and this author, for one, enjoys seeing all the nutty clothes that fly as fashion in different parts of the globe.
Rule #4: Work it, But Don't Overdo It
While we are all for workin' it, that doesn't mean you should look like an actual working girl, if you get our drift. Shorts that show more exposed leg (and usually cellulite) than a copy of the National Enquirer's celebrity exposes, tops cut so low that men's eyes actually pop out when you sit down, and jeans that, shall we say, ride down when you sit down (though to be fair, this is more often a male problem than one we see with women), may get you a degree of attention that will just make you uncomfortable. Also bear in mind that most casinos keep the air-conditioning on full blast to compensate for outdoor temperatures and body heat; leaving you not only freezing but more likely to be, shall we say, out there. Always bring a jacket, sweater or hoodie of some kind, and dress in layers for your own comfort. Additional coverage is highly recommended in critical areas; we will assume most women understand this and have the appropriate armor required.
Rule #5: Be Memorable
There's a reason all the great poker pros have a certain cartoony aura about them: it creates and incites a visceral reaction the second they sit down at a table. Love them or hate them, you will never forget them, and that saves time if you see some players only a few times a year. The memory of you clobbering them in a pot eight months ago will spring right back when they see you and go, “Oh HER!” in their minds; and voila! They're on tilt and ready to donk off chips to you again with no secondary action on your part. Think of it as working smarter, not harder.
The thing to remember is that what you wear tells people who you are, in a poker room as elsewhere. Use clothes to cement your image, or send out confusing (or even way off-track signals) to other players. Bear in mind, however, that there is a social element to the game, and occasionally there may be members of the opposite sex who might look attractive enough to you that you'd hope to make a decent first impression. Memories of a guy with a purple Mohawk mullet, T-shirts that say things like “Be Kind to Animals, Kiss a Beaver,” or clothes that are simply so crumpled and tattered that Goodwill Industries would reject them, are hard to erase from the mind of a potential love interest. As women, of course, we can actually use our poker room dress as an added weapon in our arsenal of things that give us some edge in the game; think about that when you pick what to play in (and what not to wear) on your next casino foray. However you decide to “dress for success,” do it with style and flair, and walk into your game with confidence. Clothes may not make the girl (or guy,) but they certainly can make your game a lot more lucrative and fun.
Dress well and conquer!