The Psychology of Avatars in Online Poker: How Your Choice Impacts Your Game

How you present yourself at the table can have a big influence on your winnings and how your opponents play against you. This is true in the real world with your appearance and your physical actions. But have you considered that your avatar and/or profile picture do the same in the online game?

Trying to Rile Up Opponents

One strategy that people employ at the poker table is to try to annoy their adversaries. Whether it is incessant chatter, exceptionally aggressive play, or whatever, making your opponent react with anger can put them off their game. While it can be difficult to do this online, using your picture can do this successfully. If you were to upload a divisive figure as your profile picture, like Donald Trump, Piers Morgan, or Kanye West then it could get some players upset or at least distracted. Do not use anything overtly abusive however as that could lead to a suspension from the site.

Misdirecting Your Adversaries

Another great idea with your avatar or profile picture choice is to use something with a classically sweet and innocent quality. I.e. a photo of a flower or Hello Kitty. Something that resonates with a warm and happy feeling. Then in a charge of total misdirection, you be the most aggressive player by calling every bluff and raising every hand. After you’ve done it once your opposition might not fall for it again but you can certainly catch someone off guard the first time.

By the same practice, you could use a picture of a thuggish character or even a fire-breathing dragon. This will make the other players think you are aggressive without you doing anything, so they might be more wary of your play style.

Locality Settings

Sometimes it pays to fit in the locality. If you’re the only Englishman at the table surrounded by Americans, it might be an idea to blend in. While it’s not an objective for nationalities to gang up on others in poker, it does make you stand out – and some bully-ish players could use it to single you out. If you can dress your avatar in an American flag-style suit to take advantage of the patriotism or have your profile picture set in New York City, then it could help you assimilate. Of course, this only works if the platform doesn’t share your location details.

Sending a Message

Some sites will allow you to upload any custom picture file to be used on your profile. In theory, you could make a picture with text on it. There you can send any message you like, as in: ‘You’re rubbish’ or ‘I bet you’re bluffing’, something like that to put your opponent off their game. Of course, some sites like the best online poker sites ranked by mysanantionio might forbid such imagery and you could end up with the picture being taken off your account. Be sure to check the terms and conditions before you break any rules.

Fostering Teamwork in Poker through Avatars

You can use your avatar or profile photo to try to stimulate some kind of alliance with the other players at the table. One guy might have his avatar dressed in a Leeds United uniform. In which case, if he were to see your avatar also in a Leeds United jersey, then while he still wants to play he might be less likely to be aggressive with you as he believes you have something in common, supporting the same soccer team. That’s just one example, if it’s sports teams or not if you can present a synergy with another player you might have a better chance of winning.

Furthermore, if it is close to Christmas or another seasonal holiday if your avatar is dressed in a Santa outfit, the other players might think you’re a charitable or wholesome player. Or you could have a profile picture displaying Scrooge, which will make others think you’re a greedy person who is counting all his coins and will go to any length to get more from this card game.

Changing Your Avatar Mid-Game

Some online poker platforms allow you to change your avatar or profile picture mid-game. This can be useful as it causes a distraction for the other players, especially if it presents a small flash when the graphic changes. Not only can the change of picture be distracting but if the pictures are wildly different in content, they can confuse the opponent too. I.e. if you have a Kansas City Chiefs logo first, then change it to the Philadelphia Eagles badge, then it will make them question the decision and confuse them.

Blank Canvas, Not a Bad Idea

Sometimes you can read into and expect too much from the avatar’s importance at the table. For sure, it can influence some elements but if you find yourself spending more time deliberating on your in-game appearance, just go for a plain approach. Maybe just a blank black or white tile. It gives your opponents absolutely no information about you – which could be a good thing if they’re trying to read into your game.

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