Friday, July 23, 2004
The Ambiguity of the Chatbox
I was playing Hold'Em online the other night and got dealt pocket Aces. I raised on the first 3 betting rounds, happily got an ace on the river, and pounded it again. My lone opponent at the river called my raise, mucked, then typed "nc" into the chatbox.
At first I thought she meant "nice catch," like maybe she had me beat on the flop with a a set or 2 pair. Plus you see "nice catch" all the time in the chatbox. But it seemes a pretty absurd thing to say to someone with pocket aces.
Then I decided she meant "nice cards," but if so that's a pretty pointless thing to say. Of course pocket aces are nice cards.
On a broader level, why do I care? Well, I don't really. I'll probably never see that player again. It would have been completely unmemorable if she had complimented me or yelled at me, but instead she just made me wonder what the heck "nc" meant, and here I am still wondering.
The same thing happens with "nh" to a lesser degree, even though I know what "nh" stands for. Sometimes people use it as a backhanded compliment, implying that another player won because he or she had the right hand for that flop rather than because he or she played well. I guess my opponent could have been doing that with "nc." Other times people use "nh" with complete sarcasm, to tell another player that their hand was really crap and that they got lucky. Sometimes people actually seem to mean "hey, you played that hand really well." And of course some people just type "nh" after every hand as some kind of ritual. But most of the time you just can't tell what the heck they mean, and if I won the hand I usually type "ty" so as not be rude (sometimes I'm just rude).
The pointlessness and ubiquity of "nh" is well-known. I never use it myself. Really I don't chat much at all. I guess that's one more reason I like Paradise Poker -- it's pretty quiet, chatbox-wise. (Picture a thousand silent introverts playing poker in their underwear on a tropical beach.)
I used to like "nice play" as a more clear-cut compliment than "nh." But you don't see "np" too much. Nowadays I'll type the occasional "n1" when I lose a big confrontation with an opponent. Very infrequently I do this when someone lays a real nice trap or other fancy play. But more often I type "n1" to maintain a non-tilt image--instead of silently steaming or whining about a beat, I give a compliment, and with it the impression that I am not phased at all and will continue to play my normal A-game. It's a reminder to myself as much as anything. In these cases I'm giving the compliment for my own ulterior reasons, not because I really admire my opponent's play.
Another time I'll use the chatbox is when an opponent lays a beat on me, bad or otherwise, and then actually apologizes. This happens a lot if I've had Aces or Kings cracked and I show. My opponent will say "sorry" or some other attempt at mollifying me. To this I invariably type "no problemo" and I always mean it, though not always in the same way. Sometimes aces get cracked, and that's that, no problemo. Other times my opponent is a lucky idiot who hit a 2-outer; that too is no problemo in the long run.
These are just examples of how people often don't mean quite what they say in the chatbox, just as they often don't mean quite what they say at a live poker table. The deception's part of the fun.
In the chatbox, though, the ambiguity is compounded by the medium, and confusion often enters the mix. I have never gotten a good handle on all the cute instant-messaging terminology the kids are using these days. Online poker is one of the only forums in which I'm confronted with non-words like "lol." Some parts of it are kinda fun -- for example, when everybody says "gg" when a player leaves a tournament, I always smile, since it reminds me of the end of a Little League game where both teams line up and say "good game" about 25 times while slapping hand after hand. But a lot of the time I'm just puzzled, as with "nc."
Okay, enough rambling. Friday evening is fast approaching. Mrs Cheap Thrills is headed to NYC for the weekend for a family visit. I'm gonna hang with some friends tonight -- chance of a poker game breaking out, 30 percent -- then tomorrow it's just me and my countless online opponents. Til next time, gl all :)
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