You need to hear the sounds of the poker game

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Perhaps I don’t understand why fashion has become more important than information? I’m amazed how often I see players with headsets and electronic devices in use during play. Is it because more prominent players choose to adorn themselves with these electronics? Is it fashionable to wear these headsets?

I marvel at players who arrive at a table and immediately put on their headset, knowing nothing about the table or its players. Do they think players are impressed? Do they think I’d be intimidated and think they’re someone to be afraid of? “Boy, do those headphones scare me!”

Over my career, I’ve gained valuable information by simply hearing what’s being said during play and between hands. I’ve heard players say what they have during the hand. Do you recall when Jamie Gold in World Series of Poker Main Event announced during a hand, “I have top-top?” I wonder if the guy wearing the headset would have heard that statement.

One of my favorite bits of information I heard was a player whispering to the player on his right, “I never bluff.” Isn’t that valuable information to know? I’ve heard players say, “Wow I flopped a set,” and proceed to bet and get raised by a player wearing headphones. When asked why he raised after the other player announced he flopped a set, the player responded, “I never heard him say that.”

No matter what you paid for the electronics, even if they were free, you’re losing so much of the game, which isn’t simply tells, but sounds that inform.

So enjoy the hip-hop or whatever else you listen to; I’ll continue to listen to the sounds of the game and gather information you’ll never hear. You do, however, look cool.

— Antonio Pinzari has been playing professionally since the ’70s. He’s the creator of 23 Poker and Wild Tallahassee Poker, which you can learn more about at WildTallahasseePoker.com.