The Poker Player Who Won’t Touch Gambling Tattoos

There are a million reasons for getting a tattoo, often very personal to the individual being inked.

It might be to commemorate a moment, to remember someone, or a fashion statement to complement your view on life. Every tattoo artist in the world has different designs, styles and ideas, making your body the ultimate bespoke artwork.

Often, you’ll see tattoos that feature games, such as poker. The internet is packed with cool poker tattoo ideas, and they’re bound to become more popular. The World Series of Poker is currently underway in Las Vegas, bringing high-stakes poker to your television screens. With additional online poker bracelets to be won at this year’s event, an increasing number of players will find their way to a screen to compete. With beginners guides to poker making it easy for new players, there’s almost a shout for a second poker boom being underway. The more exposure a game gets through films such as Molly’s Game as much as anything, the more likely it is to inspire a tattoo.

That could mean being inked, but one man in a unique position won’t touch poker tattoos. Kane Kalas is a professional poker player from the home of the game, Las Vegas. He also used to work in a tattoo parlor before taking second place in the WSOP in 2013, earning himself a cool $5m. During the first boom, he found poker, led to the felt by the film that sparked it all. “I grew up in a pool hall, gambling on anything and everything,” he said in a 2018 interview. “When Rounders came out, it was the hot new thing for everyone, so I just picked it up and ran with it.”

He still plays poker, albeit not at a serious level, but he’s never been tempted to get a tattoo to represent his win. He was asked if he had any poker-related tattoos, and he had a blunt answer. “Nope, I honestly think they’re corny.” He did suggest that having tattoos could help you with your poker game, as an image is everything. “I think the image you put out there is very important in poker. How people perceive you and your ability to play off that perception can be a big advantage.”

Whilst poker-related tattoos might not be for Kane Kalas, they are a popular design, and tattoos are a key weapon around the tables. Kalas talks a lot about image and cuts an imposing, uncompromising figure. He’s thickset, boasts nine tattoos, including a partial sleeve on his left arm, depicting a Japanese legend in which a samurai saves his village from a tsunami.

Kalas draws his inspiration from legend, but don’t be afraid to go for a poker tattoo if you see fit. Poker is often used as an analogy for life, and they’re certainly not all corny. Life is a big game of cards, you’re dealt a hand, but your success or failure depends on how you play it. If you choose to put that on your arm, it is personal, meaningful and very stylish.

Hopefully, if you’re a poker player too, it might even lead you to look more imposing around the table, something Kalas does believe is fundamental to success. When asked what the most important skills are for a poker player, he finishes with ‘table image’.

That’s something a pair of aces on (or up) your sleeve will surely help to build.

If you have decided to get inked, poker-themed or not, you might want to check out our article on how to make it hurt less.