Those who've played in a casino poker tournament know that there are recurring characters who always seem to pop up. In fact, all of your potential opponents can pretty much be boiled down to a roster of seven. Don't believe it? Maybe you will when they're cashing in the chips you paid for, because you won't be the first who has lost to...
1. The Kid
Barely out of high school, what this player lacks in body hair, he makes up for in poker skills. This loose, aggressive wise-ass can be a nightmare to play with, but his strengths are also his weaknesses: If you patiently ignore his taunts and play by the book, those huge chip swings of his will likely do the maniac in. The Kid may have some ability and an understanding of the game, but his ego too often gets in the way.
2. The Newbie
Whether 21 or 91 years old, a newbie is a newbie -- and newbs know nothing about the game. A newb will blind out of turn, raise incorrectly, fumble chips and accidentally show his cards. But rather than get frustrated over his mistaking the term "flush" for a "crappy" hand, have some pity on this fish and simply let him dig his own grave. Then again, never underestimate the power of beginner's luck.
3. Old Man McPoker
Despite playing poker since the beginning of time, this prematurely decomposing dude has yet to win a tournament. He's easy enough to beat -- and with his sorrowful, withered eyes, and the defeated sigh he lets out when he gets crushed on the river, you'll feel terrible when you do. But if you don't knock him out, someone else will. Show no mercy and send the old man back to his sad, cold apartment full of cats.
She may look like Old Man McPoker's mother, and you may assume that she plays like the newb, but the old lady with a beehive who reminds you of your sweet, sweet "Gammy" is actually out for blood. Don't be fooled by her pleasant demeanor or innocent appearance; this sleeper is a coldhearted machine capable of taking you down with jack-seven offsuit...and baking a mean chocolate chip cookie.
5. The Regular
This lonely sad sack plays for one reason only: To keep himself from spending any more time with his RealDoll. Having put in dozens of years at the table, he may be an experienced player -- but he's there purely for the social aspects of the game. Make it clear from the first hand that you're not there to make friends. Thwart his seemingly harmless, friendly advances, or his incessant blathering will distract you from winning.
6. Average Joe (Or Joanne)
If you're reading this in the first place, you're most likely an A.J. yourself (grandmothers and career players don't generally look to MTV for poker tips). This person plays to win, but won't be quitting his or her day job any time soon. No matter how fun the game may be, A.J.s must be careful not to spend every weekend at the casino, so as to not risk becoming the Regular.
7. The Shark
The Shark is a professional. The Shark is legit. Beware the Shark. Generally identifiable by his or her irremovable sunglasses, lack of facial expression or long, frightening facial scar, the Shark doesn’t brag or play showily, though isn't afraid to bluff when necessary. If you aren't a Shark yourself and you realize you're seated next to one, you might as well walk away -- or hope for pocket aces every hand.