Have you ever sat down at a poker table and said to yourself, “man these people are animals, I feel like I’m in a zoo”? Well guess what, you probably are in a zoo, and your table mates can most likely be compared to one of five animal “personalities”, according to poker legend Phil Hellmuth Jr.
In his book, “Play Poker Like the Pros”, Phil identifies the five “animal types” that most poker players you’ll come up against can be labeled. This isn’t to say that you might not add some others when you’re trying to size up your opponents and develop a strategy on how to play against them, but it will give you a good starting point and make it easier for you to remember a player’s “style” of play.
This player can also be described as THE NIT! Conservative to a fault and should be easily read by their opponents. Pre-flop the mouse will only play the top ten hands in a Texas HOLDEM game and rarely invests any money when holding pairs as weak as 7-7 or 8-8. If a mouse is in a hand post flop, they’ll rarely raise a bet, but when they do LOOK OUT, they have THE NUTS!
While still considered a “tight” player, the lion isn’t afraid to expand his preflop holdings and his aggressiveness adds another dimension, the bluff and semi-bluff. The lion is wise and intuitive in knowing when to bluff and when he is being bluffed. These abilities make him a tough competitor. Sometimes the lion is out on a limb when trying to take down a pot, but he is fearless when doing so.
Watching a jackal at your table will make your head spin. Loose and wild, losing pots left and right, and then BAM winning HUGE pots. Making people wonder just what they heck is going on and where did they learn how to play poker. Jackals like to play a lot of pots and LOVE to raise, raise, RAISE. When a jackal gets a good run of cards everyone will think they are the best poker player at the table, but when he comes back down to earth, he’ll lose his money just as fast as he won it. BEWARE of the jackal because they can hurt you as easily as hurting themselves with their crazy poker play.
Surprisingly, the elephant is a fairly loose player according to Phil Hellmuth. He might also be described as a “calling station” because he rarely folds his hand, even when he should. Trying to bluff an elephant will prove to be useless and doesn’t make for a successful session. Just like an elephant walks through the zoo, he slowly but surely gives his chips away and is rarely feared at the table.
Most recreational poker players will rarely play against the eagle. Soaring high in the sky, eagles will be seen competing in the biggest stake games and tournaments in the world. Should you ever play in a WSOP event, you might cross paths with an eagle. You might even see them wearing a coveted bracelet, that has the blood of dead carrion dripping from it. I think at one time every poker player has dreamed of soaring like an eagle after all they are at the top of the food chain.
In closing, while there are so many different things to think about while you’re playing poker, I hope that you can easily identify your opponents at the table by using the categories that Phil Hellmuth considers. If you do, then you’ll know
Who’s Who In The Zoo (and which one are you)!