What are the best poker sunglasses?

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Jeffrey | Poker Articles, Poker Tools

Submitted by James<, this article belongs to the Poker Tools series.

Wearing sunglasses at the poker table continues to be the fastest growing trend in the game.  Walk into any casino poker room in Las Vegas, or any local bar with a free poker game, and you will see 30-40% of the players wearing their favorite sunglasses while playing.  Some players wear them to hide their own eyes.  Others wear them to have that “intimidation factor” when they are staring down their opponent.  WSOP Main Event champion Greg Raymer wears his trademark “dinosaur eyes” glasses because it simply is distracting to have those ugly things looking right at you.

I know from my regular play that most amateur players will immediately glance at their chip stack after seeing a big hand when they look at their cards, so hiding their eyes can immediately solve this habit.  Besides that simple tell, glasses can also hide blinking patterns, the wide-eyed look of surprise when you see A-A, and numerous other things other players can see by watching you.
With this in mind, I decided to test out several different brands of glasses to see which actually help my game, and which ones hurt it.  The differences were incredible.

I judged the glasses on seven factors:
–    Price  (and what I would really pay for these)
–    Style
–    Quality
–    Selection
–    Visibility of my eyes
–    Visibility of the hole cards
–    Visibility of the rest of the table

I then selected three of the more popular brands from the internet, along with a couple of pair of average sunglasses that you can buy in any WalMart or Target.  We can call this last category simply “Cheapo’s”.

The two that I compared are:

Poker Armor
Blue Shark Optics

One of the first factors that stand out is price.  I tried glasses ranging from $9.99 from Target to $169 from Blue Shark Optics.  Being a firm believer that price doe’s not always equal quality, I knew I was going to have fun with the comparisons.

To begin with, in the interest of brevity, I am immediately going to throw out the cheapo’s from the discount stores.  They are fine for wearing at the beach, or while driving, but they have absolutely no place at the poker table.  These sunglasses are designed to reduce light, and most poker rooms are already dark.  The average player, wearing the average cheap pair of sunglasses, regularly misreads suits, and mistakes the 4 for an Ace.  A recipe for disaster when there is money on the line.

Now that we’ve established that poker eye wear must be designed for poker play, I began the true comparison.  I had two sun glass wearing friends order a product from each company, and wear them while playing poker for a week.  They then switched glasses for another week.

Poker Armor eye wear received somewhat higher grades, simply because they had more choices, and a cheaper price.  With three frame styles, all at $58.00, their appeal could certainly be understood.  However of the three styles they offer, only one (The Secret Agent) was even deemed wearable by the reviewers.  The other two were rejected by the reviewers before the order was placed.
This being said, the quality simply wasn’t there to support a $58 price tag.
The reviewers all had one high mark of praise, and some consistent complaints about the Secret Agent.  The praise was in simple comfort.  The Secret Agent is a lightweight frame that is comfortable to wear for long periods of time.  Beyond that though, our review panel of all three gave a thumbs down to the product based on one resounding reason:  They simply didn’t protect the eyes from view.  The lens was too small, and did not extend to the sides of the eyes.  And quite honestly, you can see right through them from across the table.  The light enhancement was decent enough, but not enough to warrant recommending the glasses.

Lastly, we took a look at Blue Shark Optics.  One of the first things you notice when you visit their website is the choices.  At this time, Blue Shark is offering eight different styles to choose from.  Two of these are being phased out, but the remaining six are in a variety of stylish frames that are sure to satisfy the needs of any customer.

The lens on the Blue Shark glasses all have what the company calls Crystalion-3 coating.  This coating not only increased light to the user, but was virtually impenetrable from the outside.  You simply could not detect eye movement when looking at the wearer.  Our reviewer’s chose the Viper Shark, simply to be somewhat consistent in comparing the glasses, as this was the closest style to match the two from the other companies.  While we based our review off of the Viper Shark, the true poker enthusiast would probably be more interested in the MP3 Tiger Shark.  1GB of storage built into the frame, with ear buds perfect placed to allow any player to sit for up to 5 hours jamming to their favorite tunes without the wires associates with an iPod.
And if you don’t like the frames offered by Blue Shark, you can even send in a frame you do like and they will custom fit a lens (prescription or not) for those frames.

Another strong selling point of the Blue Shark brand is the availability of prescription eye wear.  Simply fill out the order form, and provide a copy of your current eye wear prescription, and the company will make a pair of medical quality sunglasses for any user.  I personally wear bifocals, and I have long been relegated to either my normal prescription sunglasses, cheap clip-ons, or having a poker film applied to my glasses.  It is nice to see at least one poker eye wear company understand the needs of their customers and provide this service.

While the Blue Shark Optics prices were higher than the rest, the quality and effectiveness of their product certainly warranted the price difference. Their frames are made of high quality acetate and not cheap plastic.  Starting at $129 ($169 for the MP3 Tiger Shark), the Blue Shark product should be seen as an investment rather than an expense.  These glasses can not only be worn at the poker table, but are perfect for night driving, as well as to reduce eyestrain for computer users.  Sure, you might look silly wearing sunglasses while multi-tabling at Full Tilt, but your eyes will thank you for thinking of them.
Blue Shark even offers free shipping and a money back guarantee.  And professional players like John “The Razor”  Phan, Young Phan and Kathy Liebert are winning while wearing them, which is more than can be said for the other brands.

So in the end, the three reviewers were all unanimous in their choice of Blue Shark Optics as their preference.  The slight increase in cost was more than offset by the comfort, quality, and multi-functionality of the product. The bottom line is that Blue Shark Optics deliver what they promise, with a lens that, unlike the others, completely hides the eyes.  And in the end, as we were comparing them for poker play, the others weren’t even close.  So when you are ready to step up your game, I highly recommend you do so in Blue Shark Optics eye wear.  Professional poker players across the spectrum have made them their personal choice, and I believe that you should too.

Now I know this is coming across like a commercial for Blue Shark Optics, but I want to make it clear that we conducted a comparison with real players, in real money games.  The players weren’t told which brand they should choose, but they all chose Blue Shark Optics anyway.  Since I have long felt that Blue Shark Optics were the best on the market, I was very happy to see the three players make the same decision while wearing them under real tournament conditions.

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6 Comments to What are the best poker sunglasses?

October 10, 2009

I think I’d feel like a tool wearing glasses indoors. However those Blue Sharks are pretty bad ass.

October 15, 2009

That was an interesting and informative read. Sunglasses are indeed becoming very common with poker players. I have a poker forums at http://www.flopfirst.com , perhaps you would like to share your insight with us. Thank You

January 3, 2010

I just got a pair of the Viper Sharks. If you wear glasses when playing, you know the biggest issue is getting a pair you can actually see through, particularly in bad lighting. These lenses are absolutely perfect for that. In light, there is a bluish tint, just enough to serve the purpose of blocking too much light. But in dark and poorly lit places, these glasses are fantastic; there’s literally no difference whatsoever between having them on and not having them on. I’ve had trouble buying glasses for poker for years, but now I’ll never need to worry about it again. I’ll wear the Viper Sharks and smash my old pairs to bits when I get cracked.

April 29, 2010

Wow, talk about a fishy review. A paragraph saying brand 1 sucks. A paragraph saying brand 2 sucks. Then 6 paragraphs saying OMG you’ve got to buy Blue Shark Optics.

Honestly, I was going to buy a pair but after seeing this review I think I’ll see if I can find an “honest” review first.

April 29, 2010

Hi Mike

I didn’t write the review, but in all fairness I don’t think it’s that bad.
Maybe Blue Shark Optics are simply better…..

April 10, 2011

I have tried all three of these brands and I have found that this review is very accurate. So, “Mike”, at least on my end, there is nothing “fishy” about what this review has to say. The only fishy thing is you disputing it. Why?

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