1. What is a table captain?

A table captain is an aggressive player that seems to be in every pot, dictating the way that you – and the rest of the table – plays. The way they do this is through intimidation, which makes you want to avoid playing against them. You’ll throw away marginal hands out of position and you won’t try to make moves on them, as you’ll worry that they’ll come back at you. Although they can get into trouble when people slow-play hands against them, it’s generally a huge advantage to be the table captain.

2. What are the benefits?

Every player in every position has got their mind on what the table captain is going to do because they are the most aggressive player at the table.
They are continuously raising and calling, pushing and check-raising, so wherever you are on the table you’re looking for absolute monster hands to play them. And when you get a premium hand and raise, they call and suddenly you have no idea where you are. You find that table captains either get monster stacks early on or are out on the first level!

3. Do you need to be mouthy to be the table captain?

The table captain is the one who is making the most moves and, if you’re playing live, also tends to be the most vocal. If you’re the TC and constantly raising to 1,000 when the antes are 200/400, more often than not you’ll find that no one will raise by more than that. If you then raise it to 1,200 or 1,600 other people will follow suit. It’s quite hard to establish yourself as the table captain if you’re deathly quiet at the table, but it can be done.

4. If you’re the big stack at the table does that automatically make you the table captain?

Lots of players in poker tournaments manage to accumulate big stacks without necessarily bossing the game. If you feel like you’re the table captain, but aren’t the chip leader at your table, you need to be careful when playing against bigger stacks; you should keep the pots a little smaller as they’ve got you covered. If they’ve got their chips through genuine big hands and have proved to be fairly straightforward players, they’re often good targets to get chips from.

5. How do you establish yourself as table captain?

If you’re playing against unknowns there’s no reason why you can’t stamp your authority on the table. But be warned, it takes something to keep putting your chips over the line hand after hand. You get 7-5 suited on the button and you raise, no one calls. You get Q-10 the next hand and you raise, no one calls. You get K-10 suited the next hand and you think, ‘I can’t raise again, someone will play back at me.’ The very aggressive table captains, however, will keep raising until they consistently meet resistance from the table.

6. Are there any disadvantages of being the table captain?

In the later stages it can be very difficult to get a poker bluff through. You have to pick your spots very carefully because you have a table of total non-believers. A table captain’s ability to apply pressure and bluff is greatly reduced.

7. How do you combat someone who’s trying to be the table captain?

The perfect way to slow down anybody that plays aggressively is the check-raise. If you start playing back at them like that they’ll start playing differently with you as they know you could be trouble. Rather than betting into you every time they’ll start checking more often. A table captain builds up an image of being fearless and reckless and if someone forces them to pass to a couple of check-raises that image is going to get damaged. Not only will they lose some chips and feel a little deflated but everyone else at the table will start to think that they’ve got nothing. Be brave!

About the Author
Chad Holloway is a 2013 WSOP Bracelet winner who has previously worked for PokerNews as a managing editor and live reporter
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