World Poker Tour makes Monster mistake (Caro blog) default content graphicEntry #39 (2014-01-07)

NOTE: For the next several days, you can link to this WPT story on the Poker1 News page or find it archived permanently → HERE.

Today the World Poker Tour announced a sponsorship deal with Monster. This deal makes me sad, because I’ve always been a fan of the WPT, made TV appearances on their behalf, and even taught twice at the poker Boot Camp in Las Vegas beaaring its name. And I’m enthusiastic about Monster, too. That’s a company that makes superb audio necessities and headphones.

From the article at the WPT website announcing the deal: “With poker being the only televised sport where players regularly wear headphones during competition and use music to help their focus at the table, this is the perfect partnership.”

No, it’s not

No! This isn’t “the perfect partnership.” It may facilitate poker partnerships, though, because electronic equipment at the poker table has the potential to be exploited by sophisticated cheats. I’ll leave that technical discussion for another day. But those of you who have followed my crusade to promote poker ethics know what I’m saying. I have confidence in the WPT staff and my friend Mike Sexton, in particular, to be alert to that.

So, the main issue I have with headphones while at the table is that it detracts from the game of poker and interferes with tells and psychological competition that defines true poker. In fact, that’s what makes poker a unique game.

Headphones worn by players at the poker table don’t “help their focus at the table,” as stated in the article. They harm focus and make it difficult for opponents to focus, too, thus changing real poker into some hybrid competition far removed from the original intent.

Tolerating headphones is arguably bad in itself; encouraging them is terrible. And that’s why I’m calling this one a Monster mistake. — MC

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Mike Caro

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Known as the “Mad Genius of Poker,” Mike Caro is generally regarded as today's foremost authority on poker strategy, psychology, and statistics. He is the founder of Mike Caro University of Poker, Gaming, and Life Strategy (MCU). See full bio → HERE.


9 thoughts on “World Poker Tour makes Monster mistake (Caro blog)”

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  1. Mike:
    Your heart is always in the right place. We share a common commitment to preserving the human element of the game, where social intercaction is fundamental to the experience. Headphones, in my view, DESTROY that.
    However, we must also recognize this as a changed culture and a high-tech age. We must also agree that tournament structures have becme ridiculously long to the point where diversions such as music, smartphones, ipads, etc. are almost mandatory to make it through a 12 hour day.
    I wish we could put the toothpaste back in the tube, but I’m afraid it’s out on this one. So, the least we can do (at the WSOP where I’m affiliated) is to stop this once the money is reached, which is the official policy in recent years.
    Keep up the good fight, Mike. I’m with you.

    — Nolan Dalla

    1. Hi, Nolan —

      Excellent thoughts. But you should know that I haven’t given up on a solution to the toothpaste problem, either.

      Straight Flushes,
      Mike Caro

  2. HA, saying that listening to music on headphones at a poker table makes one focus better is like a teenager telling his/her parents that they can focus on their homework better with loud music playing.

  3. I agree, I have Dr Dre headphones, I enjoy listening to music. I cannot pay attention to the game tho while wearing them, I want to hear everything at the table! The only time I would wear them is if there is too much chaos going on, then I would not have music on just let people think I do. I prefer an earbud for listening.

  4. I gave up the sunglasses long ago on your recommendation. I agree about the music. It shields tells from the listener to the watcher. That’s why I listen to my iPod with the earbuds discreetly inserted. Clear vision enhanced my game. So does music. I am hyper-alert about acting promptly in turn, unless I’m Hollywooding a bit.

  5. I agree mostly, except for the situation where you got a talker that is distracting you from the game, in which case headphones might help ;)

  6. I agree. The worse part is when you are in a tournament, you’re short stacked, and the guy with the headphones is sitting there for 2 mins with the blinds going up shortly, and he doesn’t know it’s his turn to act.

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