An elephant is the term sometimes used to describe a player who plays in a lot of hands. Keen to get to the flop as economically as possible, an elephant will be involved in many pots that they have no chance of winning, but is happy to carry on calling all the way to the river, just in case. As he distributes his chips amongst his companions, it is worth noting that there is no point in trying to bluff an elephant to steal a few blinds – as he will follow your lead anywhere and ultimately give you the bulldog poker player more chips as a result.
Elephants come under the category of “loose” poker players. They have very flexible starting hand criteria and no idea of position. Ironically, when you picture an elephant you imagine a somnolent beast, and poker elephants make the best “slow players” – those who wait patiently until they believe that have the nuts, and then raise back into you. However, unlike in the wild, elephants at the poker table are not the smartest of creatures, and trumpet to the world that they have your measure by making their bet at top speed – giving you notice to fold your cards and save your chips for another hand.
The way to bag an elephant is through exaggerated continuation betting, but with big raises from the turn and river. They are the most optimistic of creatures, and will pause to calculate that the odds of the card being drawn to save their skin is “only” 6/1 – and then feel that the reward is worth pursuing (Elephants know nothing of expected value either!). Occasionally they will strike lucky, but as a rule elephants are pretty easy to take money from.
Elephants can be found on the low stakes tables of NL / FL Hold´em and Omaha games. They are particularly keen (and vulnerable) on Omaha Hi/Lo, yet tend to shy away from pot limit and are rarely seen participating in draw games. Elephants rarely go on tilt – although rogue elephants exist and can cause devastation to both himself and those around him when over-exploited – and can easily be spotted in your favourite poker room. Simply look in the lobby, and where it shows the highest players/flop, that is where your elephants are hiding.
In the natural world, elephants are kind, sensitive creatures; rarely representing a threat and only aggressive if you wind them up. In poker, they are pretty much the same.
Disclaimer: Only virtual elephants were hurt in researching this article.