Headphones on or off at the table?

Red Chip SocialRed Chip Social Red Chipper Posts: 110
edited January 2017 in General Concepts
There are a few angles to this. Do you listen to music at the tables? If so, why?

If you don't wear headphones at the table, what do you think of people who do? How does this change your strategic approach to them as a player?

Action's on you. (waves hands emphatically)


  • CognosFishCognosFish Red Chipper Posts: 11
    I ALWAYS ware headphones at the table and I never used to. I actually started doing this to plug a leak. Very simply, I was talking too much. People would ask me about hands, football, etc. It was not so much a problem in Vegas but I play in Colorado now, the market is small and I worked in the poker rooms there for over seven years so everyone knows me. Headphones help me to focus and keep from engaging in conversations.
  • TheGameKatTheGameKat Posts: 2,271 -
    I'll stick in buds for long sessions. Less ostentatious than headphones and I keep the volume low enough I can follow the action. Simply fighting boredom.
    Moderation In Moderation
  • dirty moosedirty moose Red Chipper Posts: 482 ✭✭✭
    Off. Talking to people in live poker is half the fun.
  • ChipXtractorChipXtractor Red Chipper, Table Captain Posts: 1,191 ✭✭✭✭
    I never used to wear any type of headphones/Buds but now I almost always do. I exclusively wear buds and usually Bluetooth versions as I hate the cords. I keep the volume very low and usually listen to some form of Binaural Beats. Below is a short description...


    Below is specifically what I listen to these days while playing...


    I am sure it is not for everyone but it definitely works for me.
    Twitter = @ChipXtractor
  • ChipXtractorChipXtractor Red Chipper, Table Captain Posts: 1,191 ✭✭✭✭
    Forgot to add that Evan 'Gripsed' Jarvis is a proponent of this sort of audio training. He sells a very similar product to the one that I use. As a matter of fact it is created by the same company. Her is a link to his page...

    Twitter = @ChipXtractor
  • SplitSuitSplitSuit RCP Coach Posts: 4,030 -
    Off for the first hour of live play with almost no exceptions.

    After that I only really put headphones in if I think I'll go on tilt from a particularly obnoxious individual/conversation at the table.
  • Riverboat BillRiverboat Bill Red Chipper Posts: 454 ✭✭
    I wear them and it has helped my game. I put on head phones to concentrate on the game. I watch people's hands. You sometimes see tiny movements in people's hands. I also see who is going to fold, often more to my right than my left. But I glance to my left too. I have to watch what kind of music I listen to. If it's too fast, rocking, I play faster.

    I had/have a problem with some player types causing me to concentrate to much on their play. The earplugs have reduced this and given me a choice. I do not hear whatever it is that causes me problems, so I can decide to allow/not allow them to bother me.

    They say, pay attention. I don't have a book on every player at the table, but if a bet comes out of a spot when chips haven't been coming out I notice. My skills at this have improved. I was playing a hand and had top pair. I was betting the hand against one villain. He shoved 200+ more over my last river bet with a big draw on the board. He then started rocking back and forth in his chair. He had never done that during the last hour. I tanked a little and called. He didn't have anything. Players sitting beside said they could not believe I called with just top pair. I said I just couldn't lay my hand down. I probably shouldn't have called.

    I like what Split Suit said about waiting an hour. I think that could be a good tournament strategy.
  • BourbonizeBourbonize Red Chipper Posts: 43 ✭✭
    I usually never do unless.... If there's annoying player talking my head off. Or I'm running bad/on tilt and I want to take my mind off things.
  • RCP Coach - Fausto ValdezRCP Coach - Fausto Valdez RCP Coach Posts: 842 ✭✭✭✭
    i usually never do, unless im bored of the action. Needless to say you probably won't catch me wearing them at a PLO table
  • thepokermonkthepokermonk Red Chipper Posts: 320 ✭✭✭
    The more obnoxious and talkative the people next to me are the more likely I am to put in some ear buds.
    Been trying to practice "mum poker" as Tommy Angelo recommends but it can be difficult when the people around you are constantly yammering. I find throwing on some ear buds can help.
    Usually listen to music. I tried listening to podcasts, thinking it might be a more productive use of my time, but found that they distracted me from the game, made it difficult to concentrate.
    Haven't tried binaural like ChipXtractor suggested but I just downloaded some and will give it a shot at my next session.
    First impression of them is that they're weird.
  • persuadeopersuadeo Red Chipper, Table Captain Posts: 4,055 ✭✭✭✭✭
    "Mum poker" as I have heard it defined by him is not about not talking, it's about not talking poker strat.
  • SullySully Red Chipper Posts: 773 ✭✭✭
    Never. It's live poker, not machine poker with humans close by.
    it's more fun to be watching, listening and yes, sometimes, actually talking to fellow players

    Besides I'm an Apex Predator. I'm there to hunt, kill , take it home and eat it.
    You don't see pictures of Polar Bears, Tigers, Crocodiles, Killer Whales or Harpy Eagles with headphones on, do you? :)
  • kageykagey Red Chipper, KINGOFTAGS Posts: 2,241 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Been trying to practice "mum poker" as Tommy Angelo recommends but it can be difficult when the people around you are constantly yammering.
    From Tommy's "Reciprocality" article:
    Mum Poker

    A military arms race results in bigger bombs and thicker bunkers. A zoological arms race results in exquisitely camouflaged prey, and predators who can see them anyway. The information war at poker has an arms race, and if one were to take it to its natural extreme—which I have—one would play a style of poker I call “mum poker”—which I do.

    On the outside, mum poker is the traditional poker face, extended to the entire body, and maintained through sixth street. On the inside, mum poker is no complaining, no blaming, no regretting. Mum poker is stillness. Mum poker is readiness. If you wanted to go all the way with it, you could think of mum poker as being like absolute zero, the cessation of motion. It is knowable in theory, and forever approachable, yet unattainable.

    Or you could just think of it as sit up and shut up.

    Today, when I am playing purely for profit, I play mum poker. I wear a baseball cap, no sunglasses, and no lettering. I rarely make eye contact. I do not speak unless spoken to, and even then, I do not react to questions or comments about poker. I have found that the less information I send, the more I focus on the game. And when I am focused on the game, I send less information. With mum poker, I fight for reciprocal gold on both fronts of the information war simultaneously.
  • BorisBoris Red Chipper Posts: 15 ✭✭
    I used to listen to music and never tried to engage with other players. I think I changed that dramatically after Berkey's recommendation to read DGAFs 2p2 post. Since then I always try to engage with other players. Not Will Kassouf style but really trying to help to improve the playing experience of other players I am trying to take money from.
  • delakevdelakev Red Chipper Posts: 36 ✭✭
    I used to listen to classical music-- my high school Physics teacher would put on Mozart during our tests because he had read studies to show that it improved achievement. When I needed more help with tilt control, it was very useful.

    Within the past couple of years, I have switched to Podcasts. Usually story-telling podcasts; not something I hope to retain. Serial season 1 or some of the other NPR series are really good to have on in the background as 'noise.'

    I am a teacher in my normal life and there are theories to suggest that some people cannot concentrate when it is too quiet or too loud. My parents never believed me that having the TV on in the background actually helped me focus-- it kept my brain from wandering and creating the 'noise.'
  • moishetreatsmoishetreats Red Chipper Posts: 1,819 ✭✭✭✭
    edited January 2017
    I'll be honest: I vacillate.

    About half the time I'm pretty MUM. But, I really, really, really have a hard time sitting still. And I am VERY easily distracted by things like a TV that is on. (I remember a first date that I once had. We were at a bar, and my date sat down on one side of the table so that a TV with a sports game was on literally right over her head. I politely asked her to switch seats...)

    When I'm MUM, I'm very good at it. And I'll almost never chat with anyone save regs with whom I'm friends (while not like this in real life, I find the "arrogant" image very good for me at the poker table) and/or with the dealer.

    The other times, I just know that I'm not up for it. I know that the advice would often be "don't play" or "go home". But, hell, I'm way too antsy most of the time for me to only play when I am entirely focused.

    I've learned how to adjust my play to the table image that I set when I'm distracted. First of all, even if I'm physically antsy, standing up, kneeling on the chair, etc. OR if I'm distracted by the TV, I still only play when my mind is sharp when making decisions. That might seem nonsensical, but it's a key point for me. If I'm making blurry decisions, then I leave -- regardless of my focus.

    So, when I'm not focused as I would like, then I play according to that image.

    Two recent examples.

    (1) I simply could. Not. Sit. Still. I was up at every moment, knocking my chip stack over like a clumsy newbie, accidentally mucking a card face-up, etc. So, a simple shoulder-shrug with an all-in where I "dropped" my chips halfway over the line and then just pushed the rest over in their discorded pile yielded an instant "I call" from V. I had the flopped the nut straight and seemed not to really know what was going on, and V simply couldn't believe that I was thinking clearly. He only had TPTK.

    (2) Yesterday, I was riveted by the fourth quarter of the Penn State-USC game. Fully immersed. I AM able to watch a game but focus my listening on the table, so I never held up the game. It just so happened that twice V had raised from MP with me on the button. I would quickly glance at my had (as I did every time that session while watching the game). Since I was paying attention with my ears, I always knew what the action before me was. Those two times, I looked down at great 3-betting hands. Both times, I won the pot pre-flop, and V was noticeably irritated. Shortly after that, V bet, I looked down at my hand on the button (AKo), and 3-bet instantaneously. Everyone flopped to V, who thought for a few moments, and then 4-bet. When it folded to me, without looking at the cards or the table -- still watching the TV only -- I shoved. V tanked, then folded KK face-up. Another guy asked WTF, and V responded, "He's not even paying attention. He's only shoving with aces. I found out what I needed to know when he shoved." Yes, I got lucky. But, my table image got a better hand to fold.

    I don't particularly prefer either of those styles of play, and my game is certainly not at its peak. But, I have learned how, at least, to utilize my non-MUM table advantage to create +EV situations.

    Here's the bottom line. I know two things: (1) my optimal playing style is MUM, and (2) I can only pull it off about half the time. Knowing those, I have worked hard -- and lost some good money :) -- learning how to use the other table images to my advantage.

    Not all of can maintain perfect focus all the time. So, either leave or figure out what adjustments to make to create +EV if not optimal EV scenarios the other times.
  • bigburge10bigburge10 Red Chipper Posts: 1,311 ✭✭✭✭
    I only wear them if I'm sitting near a talkative player. I'm usually not looking to get involved in a bunch of conversations at the table. I'm usually focusing on the players and the game. Plus, I feel that when I get into a conversation with another player, they're expecting me to play soft against them--and I'm not going to do that.

    So, I usually have the headphones in, just depends on whether I'm actually listening to something--which typically, I'm not.
  • tenpinpetetenpinpete Red Chipper Posts: 41 ✭✭
    I like to listen to my iPod at the table. First, because I have my own 'poker music' playlist-lots of mid tempo songs so I don't get too amped up. Second, the music they play in our card room is so all over the musical map it's ridiculous! From Journey to Taylor Swift to Motley Crue to Air Supply...seriously, what xm station is that?!? And third, I play my music soft enough to be able to follow the action, but loud enough to drown out the inane chatter of the bad beat stories everyone likes to tell.

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