Poker Sweaters

Sweat - Sweating In - Sweating a Player

by Jesse Knight


Poker Sweating
Sweat - To watch or root for a specific player when not in the game.

Sometimes a player who is not in the game will watch or actively root for a specific player who is playing. This is called “sweating.” This is especially common at the final table of tournaments. People sweat each other for many reasons. Quite often, the sweater may have a vested financial interest in the outcome of another player’s play. Sometimes, the player owes the person sweating them money, and the sweater wants to be around to collect it if that player finishes in the money. It is not uncommon for there to be several people sweating various players in the final stages of a tournament.

Sometimes, the sweater has put the player part way or all of the way into the tournament, and is that player’s backer. A backer is someone who puts up the money for the buy-in and entry fees, as an investment, for another player to play. Backers frequently wait around until the end of the tournament to see if their investment has paid off. A player who accepts money from a backer in order to play is called a “horse.” In this type of arrangement, profits are usually split between the backer, who is compensated for taking a financial risk by putting up the funds, and the player who is rewarded for his successful play. There are many types of agreements of this nature, and they are often heavily weighted in favor of the backer, although this can vary significantly depending upon the player’s history. A successful player will command a larger percentage of their win than a horse who has not yet proven themselves. Players and horses often agree to contracts which dictate, among other things, what percentage of the win goes to the horse, and what percentage goes to the backer. These contracts may or may not be in writing, and may or may not be legally enforceable.

It is also common for friends to sweat each other even if there is no financial agreement between them. At the final table of major events, several of a play’s friends may show up to sweat them. High profile professional players will often have large groups of people sweating them. These may be fans, or amateurs hoping to improve their game by watching and learning from a professional.

Smaller tournaments may take place in the poker room, on tables not currently being used for cash games or satellites. Larger tournaments often take place in a large ballroom, or in a tournament room specifically designated for tournament play. Prior to the start of the tournament, the tournament staff will set up enough tables to accommodate the event. Usually, the tournament area is roped off, and those not currently participating in the tournament must remain outside the ropes. This includes both non-players, as well as players who have been eliminated from the event. The rope line is set up far enough away from the tournament tables so as to prevent the crowd from interfering, but close enough for everybody to watch play in progress. This rope line, like the brass railing which separates the playing area from the viewing area in most poker rooms, is nicknamed “the rail.”

Sometimes in a cash game, a “sweater” may pull a chair up to the table and sit behind someone. This is a common behavior for husbands and wives. Although this practice is never allowed in tournaments, it is generally allowed in cash games, unless it becomes disruptive to the game. There is an etiquette sweaters are expected to follow if they are to be allowed to sit directly behind someone playing in the game. The sweater may not interfere with the game at all, while a hand is in progress. There is a strict “one player to a hand” rule, so the sweater is not allowed to discuss strategy, or anything relating to the play of the hand, while the hand is in play. If the sweater is kibitzing, or if other players in the game complain about the sweater, the sweater may be asked to watch the game from the rail. In most cases, the sweater need not be directly interfering, if another player does not want them there, they can be removed to the rail at the player’s prerogative. If someone who is sweating the game makes you feel uncomfortable, you have every right to ask to have them removed to the rail, whether or not they are being disruptive. Keep in mind, if you choose to request this, it may result in some animosity, especially if the sweater is behaving themselves. Even if you would rather that the sweater were watching from the rail, it is often better to allow the sweater to remain, so long as they are behaving themselves. Unneeded animosity is usually bad for the game. It can ruin the atmosphere, cause some players to leave, and cause others to tighten up. A friendly, light, and jovial atmosphere is usually the best money making environment, and you should do your best to culture and promote it.

Usage: Don’t Sweat Me, Sweat This Hand, Sweating My Horse, Sweat Bet

Previous Poker Term: Suited
Next Poker Term: Tell


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