Coffee-housing to win The World Series of Poker
We often hear of a poker face, but what of a poker mouth? Most of today’s tournament players try not to give anything away in the game’s cut and thrust. They sit still, stoic in baseball caps, hoodies and sunglasses. They only speak to state their move. It was very different at the 1973 World Series of poker, where the aim was to rile and unsettle opponents with ‘coffee-housing’, what would now be called ‘banter’. Get a reaction by irritating opponents and watch them go ‘on tilt’. Keep going and look for ‘tells’. These verbals unsettle and misdirect the other players. If used skilfully they can mask the talker’s own ticks and telltale signs.
It’s not civil. It’s not sportsmanlike. But it sure can be effective. Poker is a human game. Communication is not banned. Your noisy bluff can get your opponent to fold – which might be your only chance of winning the pot.
The 2016 WSOP Tournament Rules dealing with table talk are listed below:
113. Table Talk / Disclosure: participants are obligated to protect the other participants in the Tournament at all times. Therefore, whether in a hand or not, participants may not:
a. Disclose contents of live or folded hands.
b. Advise or criticize play at any time.
c. Read a hand that hasn’t been tabled.
d. Discuss strategy with an outside source while involved in a hand.
e. The one-participant-to-a-hand rule mentioned in Rule 111 will be enforced.
1. A participant is allowed to mention the strength or content of his/her hand if no other participant in the hand will have a decision to make.
2. In heads-up events or when down to the last two participants in a Tournament, participants may speak freely regarding the contents of their hands.
3. The Floor Person reserves the right use his/her judgment to determine if one participant intentionally helped another participant. Participants who violate this rule are subject to penalty in accordance with Rules 40, 111, and 112.
116. Etiquette Violations: Repeated etiquette violations will result in the imposition of penalties assessed by the Tournament Staff. Examples include, but are not limited to, unnecessarily touching other participants’ cards or chips, body, or clothing, delay of the game, repeatedly acting out of turn, betting out of reach of the dealer, or excessive chatter. Excessive chatter includes, but is not limited to, talking or conversation that causes a disruption of participants who are in a hand.
The video hereunder of that 1973 series features Walter ‘Puggy’ Pearson ‘making a speech’, telling Bryan ‘Sailor’ Roberts: “I’m not trying to bust you now. I guess you trying to bust me, go ahead.” Roberts goes all in. He’s holding a flush. “Sailor, please have a hand,” says Pearson. “He can’t have one this big.” Pearson then reveals his pocket aces. Will Roberts cave in and fold? No.
The last card is served. Person gets lucky and scores a full house. Roberts’ flush is beaten.