More than ever before, men are seeking cosmetic procedures to improve their appearance – everything from Botox to facelift surgery. In the rush to accommodate traditional male priorities, some ideas are more successful than others. The idea of using Botox to enhance gamblers’ “poker faces,” which was recently floated by a New York doctor of aesthetic medicine, seems doomed to be one of the unsuccessful ones.
How would “Pokertox” work? The idea is fairly simple – using Botox and facial fillers to suppress unconscious signals that can reveal information about a player’s hand. These signals, known as “tells,” can change the course of a game, and experienced poker players know how to recognize them in others.
What’s wrong with the idea? First of all, Botox injections have results that last 24/7 – they are used to reduce the appearance of wrinkles because facial rejuvenation looks and feels good, regardless of the hour or day. A poker player using Botox to suppress a “tell” will experience the effects of the injection for several months. In all reasonableness, how much of that time would involve playing poker?
But there’s more. Poker players use a number of different techniques to conceal their tells. If you watch a poker tournament, you will notice that many people wear large mirrored sunglasses, as well as hoodies. These make minor facial tics much less visible. As well, as experienced player Jay Melancon told the Huffington Post, “you’d have to play in very high-stakes games” to make a Botox injection worth the money that it would cost. “If you have a ‘tell’ that is that obvious, you shouldn’t be playing in those games.”
Besides, says former World Poker Tour competitor Josh Hale, the game has progressed beyond bluffing and reading faces. “The game has moved on from bluffs, and is more analytical these days. Players might look at physical tells, but they are relying more on betting patterns and bet sizing.”
At first blush, Pokertox sounds like a bad idea, but something that a few, very dedicated hobbyists might buy. But with professional poker players dismissing the most basic premises of the idea, it seems that Pokertox can’t bluff its way into relevance.
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons, Pokeravond