You hear about a lot of strange gimmicks in my line of work – techniques that sound more like punchlines than procedures. “Pokertox,” which was recently floated by a doctor of aesthetic medicine in New York, is one of these punchlines. It’s also one of the most egregious uses of the “-tox” suffix in recent memory.
The rationale behind Pokertox is quite simple. It involves using Botox and facial fillers to enhance the poker face of a gambler. The ability to hide facial emotions is a valuable asset in poker games, since unconscious signals – also known as “tells” – can reveal information about the nature of the player’s hand. So why not use Botox, which works by inhibiting targeted facial muscles, to reduce the appearance of these unconscious tics?
My goodness, where to begin? The article on the Huffington Post discusses a few reasons why Pokertox is simply a bad idea. Josh Hale, a famous player who competed on the World Poker Tour, argues that the idea doesn’t reflect the current state of poker.
“The game has moved on from bluffs, and is more analytical these days,” he told the Huffington Post. “Players might look at physical tells, but they are relying more on betting patterns and bet sizing.”
Another expert player interviewed on the Post, Jay Melancon, says that the cost of the procedure is prohibitive except at the highest levels of the game. “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 award for most incisive commentary goes to a San Diego-based cosmetic doctor, who said that “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.” Pokertox sounds like the punchline to a great joke, but it doesn’t sound like a treatment that I’d want to put my money on.
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons, Quenot