Thursday, January 21, 2010

Preppy, Not Dorky

Wanna know a secret about Mikey? Besides bowling shirts, Hawaiian shirts, shorts, black polyester work pants, and t-shirts, I have an entire walk-in closet full of preppy clothes that nobody knows about.

I have lots of oxford shirts and Dockers, a few pairs of topsiders, and if I dig really deep, maybe even some argyle socks. However, as I write this, I realize that I have very few polo shirts. Sweaters? Only a couple--generally it's too warm out here to have sweaters (this year being the exception, of course). But I have to draw the line somewhere, so the sweaters that I *do* keep on hand are not argyle, and I would never go popped-collar with a polo shirt. Ok, I confess, I did back in 1985 or so, but then again, I was in high school and not responsible for my questionable taste in fashion. (Although, I really wish I still had that keyboard tie!)

When I'm working, it's the same thing every day, the nasty outfit I have to wear at the casino. When the weather is warm, I generally go with shorts and a t-shirt. But when I go out at night, I try to dress a little nicer than usual. One surprising side effect is that it helps my poker game immensely. Some people go for the sunglasses and the backwards hat, covering themselves with enough online poker site patches that they look like a third-string gas man on a Nascar pit crew.

But me? No, I prefer to wear a nicer camp-style short sleeve shirt (think modern bowling shirt), or an oxford shirt and a pair of Dockers. I find that when I'm dressed better, not only to I play better, but I have better manners, too. One sees all kinds of boorish behavior at the poker tables, and I try not to be one of those people. Besides, a lot of times, I'm playing in the room I work in, so rudeness and poor manners would only cost me money, not to mention irritate the boss.

I didn't discover the 'nice clothes theory' until a few months after I started playing more seriously. It was laundry day, so I dressed up a little almost by default. I got so many compliments from co-workers and fellow players about how I cleaned up so well that I started dressing better every time I went out to play. And as a minor side-effect, my game improved, also.

Most people want to just be comfortable when playing cards, and you can't blame them for that--you're sitting there on your ass for hours on end sometimes, so you might as well be comfy. I'm guilty of showing up to the poker room wearing swim trunks, flip flops, and a Jimmy Buffet concert shirt on many occasions. When you're dressed like that, it's easier to slouch--but then when you get a big hand, you almost automatically sit up straight. That's a huge tell that a lot of people don't realize. I've discovered that when I dress a bit better, I have better posture and don't give away as much info. And I look more serious, too. That's not to say I don't have a good time and laugh it up while I'm playing--poker would be boring as hell, otherwise. But dressing a little better is an easy way to improve your game.

Not only that, but being a dealer for so long and playing for years too, I can tell you with a certainty that the people who act like the biggest assholes and cause the most disruptions in a game are usually not the best-dressed people at the table. Dress better, act better, play better. It's almost a law of nature--Well, at least as far as I'm concerned. Don't believe me? Ask Crandell Addington.

Now, I'm not gonna go that extreme and wear a jacket and tie when I play, although I may go full-on James Bond and do the tux thing on my next cruise, but in the meantime, I'll stick with a nice oxford or camp shirt whenever I head out to the M to play some no-limit. And flirting with the cocktail waitress is much more productive when you don't look like you just rolled out of bed.

Why do I bring up the subject of clothes and their relationship with poker? Well, it wasn't my intention when I sat down at the keyboard, it just kind of happened that way. The highlight of my otherwise boring life yesterday was that I got online and found a nice pair of penny loafers on sale, so I ordered them. I've been wearing penny or tassel loafers as my dress shoe of choice for going on thirty years now, and needed some new ones. I like them because they work with so many things.

Back in the day when I worked at Schwab, we could wear jeans, but athletic shoes were frowned upon. So topsiders and loafers were the shoes of choice when I spent my days in the cube farm. When I worked for that small brokerage in Nashville, jeans weren't allowed except on Fridays, so my closet full of Dockers came in handy.

Now that I work in the casino, any shoes are fine, as long as they are solid black. Back when I was on my feet all day, expensive, comfortable shoes were the order of the day. But now that I'm sitting on my ass all night at a poker table, I just use some cheap synthetic clogs that I can kick off under the table when I'm locked down.

But I still need some decent shoes for when I'm out playing cards and hanging with my gals during my off-time. So I did a little shopping. And now the secret is out--I picked up a hundred-dollar pair of penny loafers on sale today for forty-five bucks.

Actually, $45.02. Gotta put a shiny penny in each one, you know. I wouldn't want to be under dressed when I leave the house.


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