Here’s what we can learn from the signature styles of top poker players. Looking to make an impact at your next poker game? Or perhaps you just want to outsmart the competition? Whatever your motives, we’ve decoded the dress sense of some of the world’s top poker players, so that you can get ahead at your next game.
Phil Ivey – Casual and Capped
Phil Ivey, a player with millions of dollars to spend on clothing, is a man that is seldom seen without decent threads. Phil is often called the best poker player in the world thanks to his amazing track record, and it’s no wonder he likes to keep himself well presented for each game – he’s in the spotlight and he’s aware that looks count for a lot when it comes to reputation. However, if we take a closer look at Phil’s signature style we can see that it’s not just about wearing the latest fashions. Smart hoodies, shirts and plaid all feature heavily in his wardrobe, and he’s also been known to sport the odd smart jacket too. But there’s one thing which features a lot in his poker attire and that’s his trusty baseball cap. Rather than having one “lucky” cap, he wears different caps, usually with the logo of a big poker name on them. And here’s the secret sauce: he makes the cap look like an effortless part of his outfit, rather than a clever accessory to help his game. You see, lots of poker stars use the humble baseball cap as a tool to shield their eyes from other players. The peak of the cap obscures the face, especially when looking down at one’s cards. It also draws the eye upwards to the logo on the cap, rather than at the player’s face.
Something else Phil’s been spotted with frequently is a large pair of headphones, helping him to focus on his game by blocking out other sounds. The music could also be helping him with concentration, keeping him in just the right state of mind to think about his next move. On a psychological level, the earphones also help distract other players from watching his facial expressions, as they draw the eye to the periphery of the face instead. They give him a nonchalant look, making him appear relaxed and composed. Something to think about the next time you head off to a poker game.
Phil Laak – Covertly Cool
Why are there so many Phils in poker? We’ll never know. This particular Phil, an Irish American man about town, doesn’t leave anything to chance. Born in Dublin with a degree in mechanical engineering, Phil Laak’s poker threads are carefully selected to give him the best possible advantage in the game. Do they succeed? Well, a World Poker Tour title and a World Series bracelet have to mean something. Laak’s secret? Sunglasses. Lots of them. But before you go out and grab a pair of shades for your next poker game, take a look at the ones favoured on the poker tables. They aren’t your usual high fashion shades. They’re the type you see on surfers and adventure sports enthusiasts rather than on the catwalks. The reason for this is simple: the sporty, wrap-around shades are ideal for concealing the eyes from opponents. And since eyes are the windows to the soul, they conceal a whole lot. For this reason, the ideal poker shades are either very dark so as to conceal the entire eye, or reflective to completely obscure the eye area. Those opting for reflective shades should be a little cautious though: they can actually reflect your cards in their lenses. Just a small flash of colour could be enough to give opponents a big clue. But hey – if it works for Phil Laak then it’s worth a try, right?
The second thing Phil favours is a generous hoodie pulled over his head. The hoodie and shades combination has earned him the nickname “The Unabomber” (after hooded serial killer Ted “The Unabomber” Kaczynski) and it has given him an air of notoriety amongst the poker elite. Laak has written columns in Poker publications and has also been a commentator at an online poker site in the past, reaping the rewards of his signature style and fame. The hoodie helps to conceal his face from players either side of him and makes him more aware of his head movements which could otherwise be read as signals by other players. As eccentric as The Unabomber’s look might be, it’s certainly effective: Phil holds the Guinness World Record for Poker Endurance thanks to a marathon 115-hour poker session in Las Vegas.
Dan Bilzerian – Calculated Macho
No discussion of poker player fashion would be complete without mentioning the social media sensation Dan Bilzerian. With his trademark slim fit T-shirts, cargo pants, boots and beard, he is the poster boy for everything that’s masculine about poker. So much so that in an interview in January of this year, GQ magazine called him “Bruce Wayne-meets-Hugh Hefner for the social-media age.” Dan isn’t just selling the fashion credentials associated with his uber manly beard; he’s also selling an entire “playboy” lifestyle where he posts pictures of himself surrounded by naked models and expensive cars to his 6million Instagram followers.
But enough about the social media side of things; let’s decode Dan’s poker attire. The dark T-shirt seems to be a staple item for the rugged player, but why? Well, the cut of the T-shirt is usually just the right amount to reveal his toned physique and muscular arms, attributes which are, no doubt, quite intimidating when presented at a non-physical sport like poker. The darker colour of the shirt makes Dan blend in and means he won’t be catching anyone’s eye over the poker table (and anyone that does steal a glance is presumably put off by the chunky arms they’re confronted with). Add to the mix his beard and you’ve got a winning combination: nondescript muscular body plus a face that is 50% shrouded in facial hair. The beard is the perfect way to conceal those mouth twitches or tense expressions that would otherwise reveal Blizerian’s game and sabotage his efforts. Ingenious, when you think about it.
So, what do you like to wear when you’re playing poker? Leave a comment below.