While non-tinted glasses are very rarely worn without the practical purpose of correcting eyesight, sunglasses have become popular for several further reasons, and are sometimes worn even indoors or at night. Sunglasses can be worn to hide one’s eyes. Eye contact can be avoided even more effectively by using mirrored sunglasses. Sunglasses can also be used to hide emotions; this can range from hiding blinking to pupil dilation. In all cases, hiding one’s eyes has implications for nonverbal communication.

The biggest change in poker that I see happening in the next 24 months is that sunglasses will be banned at tournaments. There is currently momentum building to ban sunglasses from tournaments and soon after there will be a ban of sunglasses in live games everywhere.

I have to admit that at one time I tried wearing sunglasses for a few tournaments. I wore them to see if it made any difference in my game and would allow me to observe other players without them being able to tell where I was looking. I found the glasses to be of no benefit and actually I felt a few more players were calling me because the glasses raised doubt. So I put the glasses away and went back to playing in the raw.

Several of the poker professionals have spoken out recently about sunglasses and with players like Daniel and Annie coming down strongly on the side of banning sunglasses I feel it will not be long before we see these new rules imposed. A couple quotes from Barry Greenstein, “There’s never been a winning high-stakes player, a good high-stakes player, that’s ever worn sunglasses, so we don’t even face that, It’s just for tournament goofballs. It’s like little kids wearing sunglasses to act like they’re cool. It’s for people who are afraid of their own shadow, so they wear sunglasses because they think people will see right through them. I’ve never seen a good player wear sunglasses ever. Only in tournaments will you see that. If you watch our cash games, no one would ever wear sunglasses.” The poker Professionals just do not believe in wearing sunglasses.

The television industry which is started to carry more weight in the poker world are seriously put off by the sunglasses and I truly believe television is the future of poker. Lyle Berman, a longtime pro and the financial force behind the World Poker Tour put it this way, “I look at it from a TV standpoint, if there’s maybe one player with sunglasses it is OK. But it really takes away a lot of the drama because the drama is in the eyes, the drama is in the faces. I mean, if we had a final table and all six people were wearing sunglasses, I don’t think we’d produce it. I don’t think it would be any good. I think we’d cancel that one. I think we’d tell everybody at the table to take their sunglasses off or we’re not going to have a game. Television is not going to tolerate sunglasses at the poker table so we might as well accept that the golden rule will come to be.

Wearing sunglasses in a casino will get you branded as a card cheat. Pure and simple it is that easy. Sunglasses have been a tool for cheating at cards for many years and anyone that wants to wear sunglasses is seriously jeopardizing their reputation. The great Stu Ungar has been accused of marking cards because of the cobalt blue sunglasses he wore. Daniel makes the argument that sunglasses are a cheating tool and whether they are used for that purpose or not they should be eliminated.

I have written several blogs about putting away the head phones, cell phones, hooded sweatshirts and sunglasses and making poker a friendlier environment so it can attain more mainstream acceptance. Barry Shulman echoes my belief, “We’re working hard to make poker very friendly and invite people into our environment, and I think sunglasses are very standoffish. It’s easier to be friendly when you can see a person’s eyes.”

I am ready to hear everyone defend sunglasses and all the other paraphernalia they want to bring to the poker table. My reasons are purely financial and I believe they are well grounded in the reality of the future of poker as a television sport that is played in brick and mortar card rooms all over the country by mainstream America.


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