Loan sharks, thieves, philosophers and Rocky Balboa

plato statue

Playing styles are varied and labelled in many ways. Even the new player quickly becomes accustomed to diagnosis such as rock, fish, loose, aggressive, or some combination of all of them. But the modern game permits a broader range of player description for those moments when traditional methods don’t seem to cut it. I’ve taken the time to list some of these sub-categories below:

“The Loan Shark”

Tom Middleton demonstrated the “loan shark” methodology during his win in the recent EPT Barcelona Main Event. For the last four days of the tournament Middleton would begin with the lead only to give the bulk of his chips away to his opponents, who would then use them as they pleased. But then, as the day drew to a close, Middleton would begin to call in his loans, with crippling interest, before starting the whole practice again the next day with devastating results.

“The Laughing Thief”

Fagin of this category is KidPoker himself Daniel Negreanu. It’s not so much the playing style, which is uniquely brilliant; it’s more his knack of leaving you feeling pleasantly robbed after eight hours at the table.

Negreanu almost insists on having some fun while he plays, ready to get everyone into the conversation like he’s been hired to entertain at a party. Herein is his strength, a kind of good cop routine. It’s why most new players simply appreciate the chance to play with him, little realising that he’s taken all their chips.

“The Philosopher”

Woody Allen joked that he once dated a philosophy major who proved to him that he didn’t exist. The same goes for Phil Ivey and your chips.

Ivey’s approach seems to be one based on intensity. The look he brings to the game suggests a powerful, all-knowing sense of boredom, particularly at having to share time with you. Actually, it’s the gawp of a man living on a higher plain and able to see, Buddha-like, the true meaning of everything.

Gradually, as you prostrate yourself seeking his approval, you realise you’ve lost all of your chips, for he has proven to you that your chips didn’t belong to you in the first place. What’s more he’s not listening to you as you say “good game,” on your way out.

“The Balboa”

Typical of this breed is Viktor Blom, whose Balboa style accounts for his often cavalier regard for his own financial fortunes.

It is essentially the Rocky III approach. In that film the hero faces an Act III grudge match against Clubber Lang. Balboa, struck by the loss of his trainer and mentor Mickey, rallies under the tutelage of old enemy Apollo Creed. Powered by raw eggs and a simplistic plot, he allows Lang to tire himself out, throwing punch after punch which Balboa brushes aside as Eye of the Tiger blazes in the background.

Then, with Lang exhausted Balboa strikes, pummelling Lang until he can take it no more. Balboa gets his belt back, Talia Shire, and Rocky IV in pre-production.

Blom treats his opponents in much the same way. First he allows them to pummel him, but he is really only waiting for them to tire themselves out by taking all of his money. Then, when they’re exhausted from all the counting, he strikes to take it all back.

No doubt there are more players waiting to be diagnosed. But these are just a few examples to look out for at the tables.