Pokertox: Less a Procedure, More a Punchline

Using Botox and dermal fillers to enhance a poker player’s ability to conceal their emotions? It sounds like the premise of an SNL sketch, but a doctor of aesthetic medicine in New York has been marketing the procedure, which he has dubbed “Pokertox.” But based on feedback from professional poker players interviewed by the Huffington Post, this might be one gamble that the doctor will come to regret.

In poker, the ability to hide facial emotions is extremely valuable, as other players are always on the lookout for clues about what type of hand you hold. These unconscious signals – known as “tells” – can change the course of a game. Dr. Jack Berdy is betting that many poker players might benefit from procedures that can minimize the appearance of such signals.

“Some people might get a card they like or don’t like and raise their eyebrows,” he told The Huffington Post. “If that’s the common reaction, we can put Botox in certain areas to minimize them… We can also put Botox in areas to make it look like the player has a ‘tell’ they really don’t have.”

So far, poker players and other surgeons haven’t been particularly impressed. “The game has moved on from bluffs, and is more analytical these days,” World Poker Tour competitor Josh Hale said in an interview. “Players might look at physical tells, but they are relying more on betting patterns and bet sizing.”

“Plastic surgery is expensive,” Jay Melancon, a long-time poker player, said. “You’d have to play in very high-stakes games to make it worth it, and if you have a ‘tell’ that is that obvious, you shouldn’t be playing in those games.”

But the real zinger goes to a cosmetic doctor from California: “My first thought is that it is sad an internist can’t earn enough that they have to resort to doing Botox and fillers with a gimmick.”

Image credit: Pokeravond, Wikimedia Commons