You finally opened up an online poker account and could not decide upon a screen name. All the good ones are taken, so what do you do? Do you choose a common nickname like "Sully" or a not-so-common moniker like "Dr. Pauly?" Most online poker screen names break down into a few categories.
Rounders' Characters: Some poker players are obsessed with the film Rounders and it's the source of inspiration for their screen name. You've seen them at your tables: Worm69, MikeMcD23, and JoeyKnish80. It's sad and not very creative. So many players have adopted these names that if you try to signup on PokerStars for TeddyKGB, and you'll end up getting TeddyKGB6280441. Outside of poker, no one understands those obscure references, but inside my apartment I poke fun at you and label you a big Rounders geek in my notes. Hey, Worm69, try slowplaying a flopped straight against me and I'll shove every one of Teddy KGB's Oreos up your least favorite orifice.
Poker Pros: There are a bunch of online players who take on the persona of their favorite pro: AnnieDuke76, TexasDolly102, JamieGold44, and Fossilman666. Unfortunately, sharing the same online name with a pro is about as close as those newbies are going to come to making a final table at the WSOP, especially when they play like a donkey and call all-in re-raises with bottom pair. I salivate when those players sit down at my table.
Poker Terminology: There are some cool poker phrases that are incorporated into screen name: RiveredAgain, FloppedQuads, and JacksUp. Although a few of them are cheesy, he majority of them are some of the more creative names out there. Clever people tend to be more intelligent. Watch out for those players. Can I Buy a Vowel: Maybe they're from Finland, or from a new republic that was formerly part of the Soviet Union, or perhaps they're just plain weird. Those folks use an odd mixture of letters and numbers as their names: ksjtk474kfrvk or dhdmggt2831142. Good luck getting support on the phone and spelling out your account name if you ever run into a glitch and your table freezes.
Fictional Characters: I used to play on Party Poker under a name of a popular 70s TV character. These days, there are lots of random James Bond references and a slew of witty literary ones are out there too. The Simpson's references always make me laugh such as DuffMan765 or Apu711. Then there's also ClaireDanes72, AllyMcBeal33, Turtle420, Frodo99, and KilgoreTrout4.
Inside Jokes and Nicknames: Some players use their real world nicknames, like BigMike33, SmellyEd, or AlCantHang. I always ask them the origin of their name in the chat. It makes for stimulating conversation. Hometown: Those are folks who can't come up with an original name, so they use their city or state as part of their screen name such as AmarilloLou, PeteNM, HawaiiBetty, or CincyTom. I always ask them how the weather is.
So what should you pick? A friend of mine who is an online pro suggests picking something common and ordinary so as not to draw too much attention to yourself. He thrives on anonymity and would rather not let the public know that he's a pro.
Although some pros play at Full Tilt under their real name, they often have secret screen names on other sites. And if you play on PokerStars, he suggests not posting a picture of yourself and leaving the icon blank altogether, in order to fly below the radar. The creative person in me wants to tell you to pick something off-beat but similar to your personality, perhaps something to do with your favorite book or band. Biblical names are also fun. Next time you are stuck, thumb through the bible or if you just recently had a kid, dig up that old book of baby names.
And in case you were wondering, I can often be found playing online as... DrPauly.