So, I’m an American. Yeah, I know, bully for me. Not only that, but I live in the States. Shocking, I know. The problem with all that is because my country’s government has seriously screwed up priorities and decided that this whole online poker thing needed to be thwarted, I can’t play at most of the poker rooms that I used to enjoy. That includes Party Poker.
I’ll be honest: I was, for some inexplicable reason, never very successful at Party Poker. It was full of awful, awful players, but despite my own notion that I am a decent player, I just couldn’t gain any traction there. Just the same, I miss the place. I liked the simple software, even though it was a bit buggy for a few years, the bonuses used to be great, the tables were always packed, and it was just a comfortable, familiar poker room. Too bad I couldn’t play there.
But recently I remembered that I could still play there, only at the free version, I knew the Party Poker’s software had been significantly overhauled, and curious to see what I was missing, I downloaded it and took it for a spin. Overall, it is pretty solid, except that the table graphics look too Bodog-y to me. I liked the unrefined graphics of the old poker client. What I do like about the new tables, though, is the ability to upload your own avatar.
Online poker rooms that don’t allow players to customize their own avatars have always annoyed me for some reason. It’s not that I am obsessed with picking the perfect avatar or anything; I just think that if there is going to be some sort of character at each seat, the player should have the option to have it reflect somehow upon them as a person. Party Poker used to have stock avatars, which supposedly tried to match the gender of the player. I always found it funny that when I used to play on Empire Poker when it was still a skin of Party that my avatar was always a girl. It appeared that the software looked at my screen name, BettyChilds (the other Revenge of the Nerds characters that I wanted were taken), and it determined that I was a female, even though I am all man.
bwin Poker, along with the rest of the rooms on the Ongame Network, just assigns you a character when you sit down, too. There, it’s based on the seat you have at the table. So, if you like being a certain character, you’d best get to the table early and sit in the same spot every time. Other rooms, like Titan Poker (iPoker Network) and Cake Poker have stock avatars, but they at least let you choose one in your profile. The downside to this is that there is a chance you will end up with five men in tuxedos at your table.
What I like the most about custom avatars, however, is what they tell me about the player. While there is no specific type of picture that will indicate a strong player, there are plenty that scream, “Hey!  I’m a fish!” Players with pictures of pets or kids are typically people playing purely for fun, people who don’t play enough or study the game enough to be any good. Those who use self-portraits are almost always bad. There are even subsets of the self-portrait player: if he has an “intimidating” photo, maybe one where he is wearing sunglasses, he is usually over-aggressive, whereas if the picture is of a loving couple, the player is often extremely soft. The list goes on, but I think you catch my drift.
You know, looking back on what I just wrote, I can’t believe I actually just put this much thought into online poker avatars. Meh, screw it. Next time I play, I think I’m just going to turn them all off.

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