In online poker there are very few things you can bring to the table that will bring you some kind of meta advantage over the other players, in my experience there are only two, and on some sites just the one.
The two weapons I'm talking about are the screen name you choose and your profile picture. I know that they have an effect, I just don't know how to work out what the effect is.
A personal example:
I used to play on PKR, and years ago I came across a player named 'IHAVEBIGBALLS', we got chatting and he told me that his screenname really helped him to rake it in. I was sceptical at first, but having little luck with my then course of action, I decided to make an account called 'BLOWMEHARDER', after experiencing much success in freerolls and microstakes, I was able to build up a bankroll of $10 without putting any money in. PKR then disabled my account for having a 'rude' name.
Another example of using visual psychological factors to gain an edge:
On PKR you can extensively customise your own 3D avatar, I used to use my old 'possibly-childish' screen name, with a well dressed old man in a blue shirt. People trusted me a lot more, and folded to my bluffs often when I had built my desired table image.
I arrived at this conclusion after trying many different combinations of clothing, colours and personas. Interestingly, when wearing red/orange people rarely folded to me.
These personal experiences leave me with little doubt that you can use the few customisable options you have available to gain an edge, or display a well-thought-out image to subtly manipulate your opponents.
Nowadays I play with a different, possibly-childish screen name, on a number of sites, and after a fair amount of adjustment to my play, I eventually found a way to use their 'silly' impression of me profitably.
That was until.. I added a picture of me. It's the same picture I'm using on this site, a young, smiley guy.. I feel like this picture incites bullying and re-raising as they assume I'm a fresh-faced amateur.
I wouldn't mind, but the awful re-raises and wrong moves are working out for them as I lose with AT vs 84 after calling a first-to-act-LAG all-in on a 933 flop.
Without the picture, they appeared to fold or play cautiously a whole lot more.
How can I gauge a general opponents impression of me based on my screen name alone?
What, if anything, would you recommend as rules/guidelines to stick to when choosing a screen name, and why?
I'm looking for research that highlights psychological factors worth considering when choosing a screen name and image, or adapting better to an existing one, particularly in anonymous online screen names.
This type of research may be similar to looking at people's chosen Twitter names and display pictures to perceive information about them on those two factors alone.