Why Wear Shades at the Tables?
This is an eye opening article on the advantages of waring shades at the poker table. Highly recommended
I’ve been looking for the perfect poker shades for years now. Like many players I’ve gone through various types of outdoor sunglasses looking for something that allowed me to see my opponents clearly while not giving anything away. Because many players, especially those who play mostly online, don’t understand the reasoning behind wearing shades at the table, let’s start by talking about why wearing shades is helpful.
Inexperienced players assume that sunglasses are used to hide a player’s eyes so that they aren’t giving away tells. This is actually not an important piece of why a serious player wears shades. Anyone who understands tells and reading players in a live environment can tell you that most of your opponents are not watching you, they are watching the flop. By the time they look at you there is nothing for them to see and they wouldn’t know what they were looking for anyway. I watch my opponents when the flop is revealed, and I can tell you that I very rarely see a player looking back at me. So if concealing my eyes to prevent them from giving away information about how I feel about my hand isn’t the reason to wear shades, then why do I wear shades during big tournaments?
I don’t want my opponents to know that I’m watching them. People behave differently if they know they’re being watched. I want to see their honest reaction to their hand, to the flop, and to my bet, and I don’t want them worried about me watching. This is the primary reason to wear shades at the table. You can watch any player at the table at any time and they will have no idea that you are doing it.
Intimidation can give you a big advantage too. Players may make fun of someone wearing mirrored shades at a low buy-in cash table, but they attack players for wearing shades specifically because they don’t like it. When they can’t see your eyes it makes them uncomfortable, and that is a very good thing. If you can knock someone out of their comfort zone when they are in a hand with you, it gives you a significant advantage.
Concealment does matter. While we noted earlier that it was low on the list, it is important when you do face a strong opponent who is watching you for tells. The eyes are one of the toughest parts of the body to train to conceal. It is said that the eyes are the windows of the soul, and on the rare occasions when you run into a players who is paying attention, you don’t want to leave those windows open.
So now that we are clear about what we use sunglasses for, what shades are the most effective at the poker tables?
We want shades that conceal our eyes, without preventing us from watching our opponents. Most sunglasses that allow us to see clearly indoors don’t conceal very much, which is why mirroring is important. And most shades that are dark enough to conceal will also prevent us from seeing clearly indoors. It doesn’t do us any good to be watching if we can’t see anything does it?
There are a number of ways to get a good compromise, though we’re still waiting for the perfect solution – a pair of shades that’s clear from inside and mirrored from the outside. The laws of physics make that pretty tough, but these tips will help.
Wear a baseball cap. There is a reason that baseball players all wear them, and it’s not tradition. If you prevent light from getting in your eyes from the sides, you can see things more clearly in front of you. The bill of the cap acts like a blinder, preventing light from above from hurting your eyesight. Since most poker rooms are lit from directly above the tables, a hat with a bill can increase visual acuity significantly, allowing you to catch a tell on an opponent across the table that you might miss otherwise.
By blocking the light from above, the baseball cap also serves to darken the area around your eyes, allowing you to get away with lighter lenses and still keep your eyes concealed. Stand in front of a mirror wearing sunglasses with a light on over your head and you’ll see a huge difference in how well your eyes can be seen when you put the hat on.
Get the right shades. We have done extensive research (many long nights at the poker room) testing out different shades looking for the perfect combination of concealment and clear vision. We tried out six different companies that make shades specifically for poker and a large number of shades made for other purposes. We found that sunglasses made for outdoor use are all too dark to be of use in the poker room and you will miss important information if you are wearing them at the tables.
The best product by far was from Blue Shark Optics. The Blue Sharks have a coating that makes the front highly reflective while allowing almost all the available light through. This allows you to see the table clearly, while your opponents can’t see anything but their own reflection in your glasses. At around $100, Blue Sharks give you a huge advantage at the tables and they are well made too. Don’t bother with the competitors, you’ll just be wasting money and you’ll end up with Blue Sharks anyway once you get tired of cheap shades that fall apart after a few weeks or give you a headache from obscuring your vision