Jamie Burland: Choose your poker screenname wisely!

Jamie Burland cuts down on his tables and starts noticing a lot more

Greetings, poker hounds! I’m pleased to say that after a long summer of grinding the live felt at home and abroad, I’ve finally been able to free up some time to get back to doing what i do best – knocking it in online. However, to say it’s been anything of a successful comeback would be like saying that the Batman Forever movie really picked up where Tim Burton left off.

The buy-ins have been higher as a variety of online festivals have come and gone. During this time i made the decision to cut down on tables so I could really focus on these bigger games. It’s done me a fat lot of good in terms of results, but i have noticed that I have been picking up some extra reads in spots that are more or less impossible when mass multi-tabling across a number of sites.

Naming day

A poorly chosen avatar can immediately alert a trained professional like myself to the presence of a less experienced online punter. Anyone whose avatar is a young baby, or two playing cards (normally black Aces) is likely to be new to the game. Conversely, if the smiling faces of Sam Grafton, Rhys Jones or Tom Middleton appear, you better tread with caution. Anyone who uses a poker parody screen name like b8crapz or hitthedole (instead of b8chatz and hitthehole) is rarely an amateur, in the same way that screen names ending in ‘007’ or which contain the word ‘Ferrari’ are usually recreational.

Cultural references can be hilarious but they can quickly date a screen name. I loved Breaking Bad and was very sad when it left our screens. Don’t forget, an avatar is easily changed every six months, but a (albeit hilarious at the time) name like BetCallSaul is with you forever. Nobody wants to have the screen name BadaBing1 nowadays do they? [A dated reference to the sopranos – ed]

That said, here are some Breaking Bad screen names I’ve come up with that you can feel free to pinch if you’re that way inclined… say_My_sn, BrBa, theoneWhoknocksitin, tank_schrader. Just don’t blame me in ten years when you fully regret your virtual tramp stamp. 

It’s about time

Another area it’s almost impossible to focus on when multi-tabling is timing tells. Now, while I don’t recommend weighting your decision solely on the speed of your opponent’s action, there are occasions your opponent can give away the strength of their holding.

Let’s look at the different reads we can make when we compare a delayed check and a delayed bet. You can pick up a pretty strong read on the turn when someone has check/called your flop c-bet and makes a big delay before checking on the turn. I would read this as a weak showdown hand attempting to display strength – they are trying to make you think about all the check-raising they might do – so you don’t bet. Continue betting!

Conversely, the delayed bet is a sign of strength. Let’s say a player calls your flop c-bet in position and we check to them on the turn when a scare card hits. If they were planning on floating you to bluff at a scare card they will bet quickly, but if they have just turned the nuts it’s really hard for them not to take a bit of time to pick the right bet size. Consider check/folding! 

Probably the best timing tell is the insta-call (or the insta-check). It really caps a player’s range as a weak calling hand because if you had anything good, you would need a second to consider your options. Continue betting for value! The insta-min check-raise is another move where timing tells can come in handy. I used to come across this when I was grinding cash games but you also see it now and then in tourneys. Weak players love snap-min check-raising dry paired flops with the logic you can’t have much. Well, you’re not representing a whole lot of cheese either buddy.

Next time you face this action on 7-7-2 rainbow and you were considering folding your A-T, take a moment to think about your opponent’s range in this spot. Are they really snap min-raising a seven or pocket twos? Surely most of your range is comprised of air on this board and if they actually had that hand they would more likely slowplay to let you catch up? Consider calling down!

So that’s the plan for the time being. I’m trying to game select as well as possible but while the buy-ins are higher, stacks are deeper and comfort zones are tested, I’m taking down the number of games and focusing on the little things to try and eek out as much of an edge as possible – let’s hope it works out! 


Jamie Burland writes every month for PokerPlayer magazine, available on iTunes here.

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