The Good, the Bad and the Mirrored of Poker Sunglasses
October 9, 2023
October 9, 2023
Professional poker has seen its fair share of accessories, from cowboy hats to colorful shirts, hoodies, and all sorts of “lucky” items.
One of the most common of these accessories is sunglasses, which have almost become a poker stereotype.
But why do poker players wear sunglasses? Most of the events are played indoors anyway.
Is it a way to hide your eyes and not reveal true emotion, throw off an opponent, simply look cool, or something else?
Why Do Poker Players Wear Sunglasses?
Most poker players opt for sunglasses when playing poker to conceal their eyes, which makes it tougher for the opponent to read their emotions.
While you might think this is a bit far-fetched, it is kind of true. Poker is a game of nerves, and experienced players will look for the slightest moves, facial expressions, and twitches their competition might show to figure out bluffs. Naturally, other parts of the face can also give you away (a slight smirk, widening the nostrils, raising the eyebrows, etc.), but the eyes are the most telling.
Wearing sunglasses helps instill confidence as you now know that your opponents will have a harder time trying to read you.
Some players also wear sunglasses to look more intimidating. It might not hold up against veterans, but who knows, maybe some novice players might find you intimidating.
Of course, this only works if you’re playing in person. Online tournaments rarely require players to turn on their webcams, so there’s no need for this type of eyewear.
The reason for wearing sunglasses when playing poker can also be health-related. Some players have legitimate vision issues, especially in poker arenas that can get quite bright with artificial lighting.
Most Famous Poker Players Who Wear Sunglasses
Some poker players are hard to recognize without sunglasses.
One such player is Phil Laak (pictured, left), appropriately nicknamed “The Unabomber” for wearing mirrored sunglasses and a hoodie at all times.
He sometimes even covers his mouth with clothing, especially in crucial moments, thus completely hiding his face.
Greg Raymer is also a shaded poker pro, although his sunglasses are anything but usual. Namely, Raymer became known for his Spooky Shades, which have holographic reptilian eyes on them. It might sound silly, but it certainly works for Raymer, who has more than $8 million in live tournament earnings.
Another successful sunglasses fan among poker pros is Chris Moneymaker (pictured, right). Apart from his talent, skill, and luck, Chris’s vintage-style sports sunglasses helped him become the 2004 WSOP Main Event champion.
Iwan Jones, Scott Fischman, Qui Nguyen (pictured, middle), and Chip Jett are some notable poker pros who like concealing their eyes.
Sunglasses are so imprinted in poker culture that even non-pros commonly wear them.
Kim Kardashian’s poker mirrored sunglasses caused a stir back in 2018 when she wore them at the If Only Texas Hold’em charity poker tournament, although, in her case, it was probably just a fashion statement.
Are Poker Sunglasses Banned?
Although many players voiced their concerns over the last several years about sunglasses ruining the integrity of the game, there’s still not an official ban on sunglasses at a high level.
You are free to wear sunglasses in most professional tournaments and while playing casually at a Vegas casino.
However, while poker tournaments are pretty liberal regarding player attire and accessories, plenty of influential players like Daniel Negreanu are advocating against sunglasses at poker tables, which could result in an official rule change in the foreseeable future.
Can Sunglasses Be Used for Cheating in Poker?
Sunglasses could potentially be used as a cheating tool, especially in today’s age of technological marvels. For instance, a cheater can mark the cards with invisible ink that can only be seen when wearing special sunglasses.
The likelihood of something like this happening at a high-level tournament is next to impossible, but it doesn’t hurt to be wary of your shaded opponent at a local poker game.
Is Wearing Sunglasses at a Poker Table a Good Idea?
If you’re afraid your eyes are your tell, then wear sunglasses by all means. They are legal at most poker venues and are still fairly common among pros and amateurs alike.
In case of vision or medical problems, wearing sunglasses is implied. You will feel more comfortable, which can only improve your performance.
But there are two sides to every coin, and this also counts for poker sunglasses. That said, here are a few reasons not to wear them:
Opponents can see your hand — If you’re not careful when wearing mirrored sunglasses, you can allow other players at the table to see your cards and know what your poker hand looks like.
You can be accused of cheating — Although this shouldn’t concern you if sunglasses are allowed where you play, it might be best to avoid them if no one else is wearing them.
Pros can sense your low confidence — Trying not to conceal your eyes from others can also negatively affect you. Namely, sunglasses can tell your opponents that you are actually afraid of getting read and that you thus have low confidence in your game.
They won’t actually improve your game — Sunglasses or not, you must primarily work on your game to become a better player. The specs only give you a slight edge once you’ve perfected your strategy.
Sunglasses are the most controversial poker accessory. Some can’t play without them, while others oppose their use.
You must know that even the coolest, most intimidating specs won’t make you a shark. Wearing sunglasses can be beneficial to your poker game, but only if your game is already good enough.