Tips from poker master Craig Hammerman

Poker face! Community board district manager has double life as a card shark
Photo by Tom Callan

Want to play like poker stud Craig Hammerman? Here are some tried and true chip tips from the man himself. Hammerman, known in online poker circles as

“Morpheus Waits,” a reference to the stoic character from the sci-fi classic “The Matrix,” insists he can only lead players to the water.

Or, as his alter ego says in the film: “I can only show you the door. You’re the one that has to walk through it.”

Don’t use props: “What if your sunglasses break? Then you haven’t trained yourself not to be dependent on them. Plus, I’ve seen situations where people have worn large mirrored sunglasses and you can see their cards in the reflection.”

Never bet what you can’t lose: “You can’t play if you’re afraid to lose money. The idea is to come up with a budget and stick to it. That’s the discipline.”

Talk it out: “Find other people that are interested in taking the game seriously and talk to them. That’s a real way to improve.”

Hold the alcohol: “Don’t drink until after you’ve won. Alcohol tends to make people make bad decisions. I welcome sitting at a ‘happy’ table.”

Pay attention: Watch a player’s blink rate, how they place their bets — whether they throw chips or slide them. Listen to the tone of their voice. Watch their body language. All of these things can reveal a lot.

Control yourself: “It’s really easy to get upset, to ‘go on tilt.’ But that can have damaging repercussions. If you can attach yourself emotionally to what is going on, you will end up draining yourself and making bad decisions.”

Stay in shape: “You can’t sit at a table for 12 hours and focus if you’re not in shape mentally and physically. Exercise your body and your mind.”

And this one goes without saying: You never count your money when you’re sitting at the table. You can do that later.

— Gary Buiso