By: Jason Lake
Are you a Tinglehead? If so, maybe you're one of the quarter-million people and counting who have watched that ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) poker video on the YouTubes. The host displays a bunch of oversized playing cards and riffles some poker chips. It's intriguing, but I can't watch more than a minute or two before my mind wanders. I've got things to do.
Like riffle my own poker chips. I've got a nice set that I picked up a while back, proper clay chips that feel just right in my hand and make just the right sound. I don't do this nearly as much as I used to, but sometimes, when I'm playing online, I'll grab a stack of 10 or so and start shuffling them at my desk. It's one of the first things aspiring players learn to do, right up there with check-raising and not messing up the one-chip rule.
It's an Illusion
It's virtually impossible to watch poker without hearing that sweet, sweet sound of chips being shuffled. But that's not enough for some of the big-time pros. They'll break out all the moves, like the Twirl, the Flip, the Bounce, and the Roll. Or maybe they'll stack their chips in intricate ways. Carlos Mortensen builds these amazing towers like he's Frank Lloyd Wright or something.
Like everything else in poker, there should be a purpose behind your actions. Mortensen's artwork can be both distracting and intimidating to opponents. Same with those chip tricks. As for the shuffling, poker chips can be manipulated much like the “worry beads” they use in some parts of the Mediterranean, primarily Greece. Touching your chips can be very soothing, and allow you to concentrate on the decision you're about to make.
If You Build It, They Will Fold
Or it can make you more nervous. The primary reason I don't do anything fancy with my chips anymore is the idea that body movement leads to emotional states. For example, if you stand up straight right now and put your hands on your hips, you might feel a sense of empowerment. Shuffling or otherwise playing with your chips could actually cause more anxiety. At the very least, it communicates to your opponent that you're uneasy, and need comfort.
The Mortensen Gambit might be more useful. If you can build an inukshuk or an Eiffel Tower with your chips, that could really throw off your opponents if they're not focused. Personally, I'd recommend sticking with stacks of 20 chips for practical purposes. Accidentally knocking your chips over the betting line isn't a good way to make money.