What Are The Best Sunglasses To Wear Playing Poker?

When you think of a poker player, a vision of someone wearing a hoodie and sunglasses probably pops into your head—But what sunglasses are the most popular among poker enthusiasts? We take a look at the form & function behind some of poker's favorite sunglasses.

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Wearing sunglasses indoors is mostly reserved for rappers and poker players. For the rest of us, it’s a bit odd to be wearing dark shades while indoors because, well, there’s no bright sun in your eyes. As a matter of fact, it can be somewhat of a hindrance to wear them inside.

At any rate, poker players love to put them on and there are good reasons for it. Let’s delve into why poker players like to wear sunglasses at the table and then examine a few of the most popular styles to wear.

Why Wear Sunglasses

One of the keys to being successful in poker is trying to read those stoic poker faces. Of course, the eyes tell a lot and one of the ways to prevent anyone from reading your eyes is by obstructing their view of them. Wearing sunglasses can cover up whatever your eyes are saying and the thing is, we often don’t always know what they’re revealing.

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After all, we don’t spend much time looking at our own eyes and we spend even less time doing it when we’re playing poker. Maybe your eyes twitch when you have good hands or your eyelids open just a bit more, or maybe they slump when you’re holding something you fold. At any rate, wearing shades prevents anyone from reading what your eyes are saying.

Getting Used To Shades

It’s important to get used to playing in shades because this isn’t very common for most people. Many people practice poker online while they’re learning their craft and typically, you won’t wear sunglasses at that point. When you start playing at casinos and getting a feel for the games, wear shades so that you get used to it. Things will obviously be darker but it also impacts your view a little bit. You want to be comfortable with that when you’re starting to play serious tournaments because otherwise, it might serve as a distraction.

Popular Poker Sunglasses

Poker Armor

Robert Salaburu putting on sunglasses during wsop

Robert Salaburu of San Antonio, replaces his sunglasses before playing another hand during the World Series of Poker Final Table event. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

One of the best-known options for poker players is Poker Armor, which is a label that’s created by poker players. They’re the largest supplier of both poker sunglasses and regular glasses.

That includes options like The Dark Vadar, The Bond and The Secret Agent. In terms of whether there’s actually any technology behind it, that’s really hard to say. They have their own proprietary lenses, which are somewhat unique.

The lens itself is a gradient where the bottom is almost clear but the upper part is reflective. That means when you look down at your cards, it’s easy to see them through the clear part but the upper part will look like mirror-like to your opponents. That is definitely a handy feature but the question is how unique is it? Any shop that puts in lenses could probably do this for you or might also sell options like this.

There are also some questions about the quality fof the build and concerns that their line of glasses don’t cover the side of the eye. That’s not ideal.

If you like this style specifically, though, then they seem reasonably priced at just under $60.

Blue Shark Optics Poker Glasses

Blue Shark Optics is another popular brand in the poker community and while their array is a little more expensive, it also gives you a number of options. The biggest difference is that you can upgrade your lenses to prescription, which will obviously be critical for a number of people. The next big feature is that they are non-tinted.

You might think “what’s the point?”, these are actually smartly created because it allows for light penetration, which is key for your vision. When it comes to what your opponent sees, though, they’ll be looking at a mirrored reflection. In other words, there is very little impact on your own vision but your opponent can’t see what your eyes are doing. That allows you to be stealthy with your eyes.

The downside with Blue Shark Optics is that they’re pretty expensive overall. They start at $129, which isn’t cheap for shades. They are popular in the community among the pros, though, as players like John Phan, Young Phan and Kathy Liebert all wear them. They’re comfortable, multifunctional and are generally viewed as higher quality than Poker Armor. The question for most players is whether it’s worth the investment compared to what type of difference it will actually make in your game?

Regular Cheapos

Let’s be honest for a second: you can get sunglasses for a lot cheaper than $129. We know that in general, these are pretty cheap to make and since you’re not really worrying about the UV protection, quality isn’t something that factors all that much here. You can go to the dollar store and pick up a pair for less than $10. That means if you’re worried about quality, you can buy roughly 13 pairs of the bargain ones before you reach the cost of one pair of Blue Shark Optics.

For most people, they won’t really notice a difference. As a matter of fact, they’ll probably prefer it because there are far more styles, colors and options. Want a mirrored lens? Those will be available. Want something with a lighter tint? No problem. Want a pink and purple frame? There will be some in the selection. The issue is that these aren’t made by poker players for poker players. Does that really matter? It’s hard to say.

The other factor with these–or any non-Poker Armor, non-Blue Shark Optics brands–is that you’ll be able to use them in other aspects of your life. The former two are more like gaming glasses; you can also pick up some kind of stylish options that you wear for poker and wear to the beach.

At the end of the day, it’s going to depend on your comfort level, your budget and what style you’re looking for. If you’re looking for the top of the line for poker, Blue Shark Optics are probably your best bet.

If you’re just a casual player just looking for something to block your opponents from seeing your eyes, almost any basic sunglasses will offer the same as the other two brands on this list.

Ready to play online (no sunglasses needed)? Check out our online poker reviews and find your new favorite virtual table.

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