A Pain in the Alias

A Pain in the Alias

Monday, 16 January 2012

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose,
By any other name would smell as sweet."
Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2) - William Shakespeare

If you’re wondering how you could possibly work a Shakespeare quote in to the start of a poker article, you wouldn’t be the only one. When Bluff Europe’s fine editor asked me if I’d like to write a piece on aliases and nicknames in poker, I tore his arm off. It’s been a while since I’ve had the pleasure, and the excitement of it all got to me a little.

Of course, Willy did have a point about the rose, but the world of online poker is somewhat different. Aliases, handles, nicknames... call them what you will. I am sure you can remember the moment when you loaded up your first online poker account. “I can win at this game,” you think to yourself. “I’ve watched Late Night Poker and that Devilfish bloke ain’t got a clue. Shoving all-in with a pair of twos? What a ‘nana...” Then you’re left with that horrible realisation when you look at your screen and it says:

Pick an alias.

Oh shit. You forgot about that bit, didn’t you?
It’s a moment we all have to endure and some of us seem to excel at it. In this article we’re going to pick out some of the habits and results of the naming game and you can see how you match up against my biting commentary.

The ‘Name Name’.
This is basically poker’s way of telling you that the player behind the alias is most likely utterly unimaginative. I’m not talking about that ‘Phil Ivey’ or ‘Gus Hansen’ chap from back in the Full Tilt Poker days, either. We’re talking about the likes of EVGENY967, VitorFCampos and BobSmith76. I’m going to take a wild stab in the dark and guess I am dealing with chaps by the name of Evgeny, Vitor and Bob. How very original. Could you not have thought of something else though? Dullard.

The ‘Sports Fan Name’
Almost as sterile as The Name Name, the Sports Fan Name is certainly more popular amongst the Americans, for whom college football and basketball identities run strong from an early age. I’m still not making excuses, though - it’s pretty insipid, no matter which side of the Atlantic you’re on. The amount of times I’ve had to play against LUFC_Steve or similar is just startling. You know the best bit about them, though? They normally choose their team’s badge as their avatar too. Thanks for drilling that one home. We get it.

The ‘Aficionado Name’
“I don’t want to look like a sucker at the tables.” Good idea - who wants to have the massive arrow of ‘cash point!’ looming over their virtual heads. The best way to remedy this is, of course, to give yourself a nickname that shows you really know your stuff. I mean, would you bluff a guy called “ucantbluffme”? No, of course you wouldn’t. Sure fire, winner.

The ‘Table Captain Name’
Once you realise that the ‘poker savant’ approach doesn’t work, you could just go for the slightly stronger approach. What you’re saying here is “don’t p*ss me off or I will take all of your money.”
Or worse. The likes of ‘URINDANGER’ might be right, of course. For the vast majority of players who take this route, they don’t have the poker game to back up their bullish claims.

The ‘Reverse Bluff Name’
You’d think the plonker who actually decided they’d be known as OMGClayAiken for the whole of their poker life really was a mug. See, Phil Galfond owned your soul before you even sat down with him. When you’re that good at poker, you choose the kind of alias that wreaks of ‘soft as pig shit’. Then you 4bet them in the eye with nothing. Lots. Total genius.
Oh, but don’t confuse that with the following...

The ‘tRiEd To0 H4rD t0 0wN U wTtH s0uL rE4d5 Name’
God, that tilted me just trying to type that. Seriously, who the hell decided doing that was cool?! Thankfully it seems they used all of their brain matter thinking how to ‘best mangle English’, rather than on ‘how to play poker’. A quick skim through the pocketfives.com online rankings shows the highest ranked offender is ‘p1nkun1c0rn’ in 40th place. Kevin ‘aBoVeBeLoW’ Saul also gets an honourable mention. He could get away with it though because he coined the expression ‘monkey tilt’. They’ve obviously both got a clue, although the ultimate online alias belongs to online poker’s prodigal son...

The ‘durrrr Name’
Yes, Tom Dwan’s motivation behind the most infamous online poker alias is well-documented. He believed it would tilt his opponents more when they lost money to him. Within a couple of years it was more the amount of money they were losing to him that tilted them. Either way, the quiet and unassuming look of the American online phenom was soon shattered as he rose to the top of poker’s online Olympus. Well durrrr!

The ‘Going for Comedy Gold Name’
It’s always refreshing when someone chooses not to take the whole thing too seriously. After all, it’s just a name. It makes no difference to how you play, and you might as well have a laugh. Even if you don’t agree with this school of alias thought, it has given us some of the finest names doing the rounds. BEEPBEEPIMAJEEP, I still think you’re the best.
So, what did you learn in this article?

· Don’t name yourself after yourself. Seriously.
· Football team initials and avatar combos are almost as dumb.
· Using r4nD0m l3tt3r5 in the middle of sentences - or poker aliases - is just mental. Don’t be a n00b.
· Christ, typing that stuff still tilts the crap out of me.
· When picking a name, have fun with it. After all, I’m not really in danger. You’re hiding behind a laptop and probably weigh less than 12 stone. I’ll cope.
· Shakespeare and poker don’t really go, but quoting it does make you seem smarter. Perhaps.

I’m off to wail and gnash my teeth at some screens of online poker. Wish me luck.

Tags: online poker, aliases, Dave Bland, columnist