How your poker etiquette can lead to success or failure
July 06, 2018 9:40 AM
by David Cash
Poker can be a strange old game. Despite the players around the table all trying to take as much money off each other as possible, there are still plenty of unwritten rules and etiquette that need to be adhered to avoid the situation descending into total chaos, and to keep the communication between players respectful and focused on the game.
The following tips and tricks will help you to avoid getting on the wrong side of other players, and at least make it look like you know what you’re doing if you aren’t particularly experienced or even confident at the green baize.
Keep the chat to a minimum
If you’re an experienced poker player, you’ll definitely have experienced this type of person. They’re either a loudmouth who just can’t keep quiet for a few minutes, or trying to use their loudness as a strategy to put other players off. If you watch pro poker, then you’ll have seen Phil Hellmuth and Mike ‘The Mouth’ Mattusow doing it (albeit well). The truth is that you’re probably giving more away if you’re loud at the table, and upsetting players who may be better than you may make them more determined to take all your money off you.
Tells are usually limited to the way you look and act around the table, but if you’re too vocal it’s actually a lot easier for other players to figure out when you’re bluffing. The other side of being loud is that it gets super-annoying, especially in a casino that’s loud anyway, and you could even end up being asked to either keep quiet or leave the table if you’re upsetting other players.
In online poker, the atmosphere is a little bit different, and you can get away with a bit more banter than you might be able to in land-based casino. Just keep things clean, and don’t say anything that you think will upset anyone; you’re asking for a ban if you start trolling people around the online poker table.
Don’t take forever to make your decisions
Poker is supposed to be a quick game, and experienced players will know exactly what they want to do with the flop and the cards in their hand as the game progresses. Sitting staring at your chips or going over your options for minutes at a time is one way to get people’s backs up, and it’s common courtesy to have your call or raise ready to go before it’s your turn to act.
Get your eyes off the TV, next table, or waiter / waitress and on your cards. Professional players hate it when their opponents’ head’s aren’t in the game, and there’s the added factor that you’ll miss an opportunity to pick up some chips!
Don’t be big headed
Winning at poker is a great feeling, but rubbing it in or being a ‘bad winner’ is something that no-one will enjoy. Telling other players off for being too slow, pretending you know more than the dealer, or even arguing with other players is a quick and easy way to upset everyone and get thrown out of the game, and you could end up scaring off players who could serve as easy pickings if you keep them happy and playing hands.
This point also covers respect, and swearing, acting aggressively, or going into a mood when you lose a hand are all bits of poker etiquette that will stop you from becoming a hate figure in the casino!
Keep your head down when you aren’t playing
If you’ve folded, then feel free to follow the game, but don’t try and interact with players who are still in action. Commenting on bets, trying to see which hands other players have or offering advice are all massive no-nos, especially in professional games, and just end up being a massive distraction. If you aren’t in the game at all, or have run out of chips, then trying to get involved is another thing to avoid; if you’re so interested in the game, then you should have bought in!
If you’ve folded, then you should always keep your cards to yourself. Revealing your hand, or telling other players what you had may end up influencing their decisions or giving others an unfair advantage, and no one likes an amateur who starts showing everyone how good they are at bluffing.
Don’t hit and run
Although you’re welcome to leave the table at any time, you really need to pick your moment before you take your winnings and run. Swooping in, winning the pot, and then wandering off into the sunset is going to really rile players who have been going for the pot longer than you, and not giving them the chance to win their money back is one of those weird unwritten rules that are common courtesy when playing poker.
Hiding cards, counting cards, using underhanded tactics or going in with stooges to try and take cash off other players is probably the worst bit of poker etiquette out there. Cheating the casino out money is fair game in many people’s eyes, but not sticking to the rules to try and take money off your fellow players is going to create massive issues if you get caught. Expect not only a ban from the place you’re playing, but also potential threats from people who don’t take kindly to having the wool pulled over their eyes.
Tip your dealer
If you win big, then give your dealer a little cut. They’re the ones that have made the game possible for you, and have to put up with hundreds of nauseous players who whoop and holler when they pick up a pot that may be more than their weekly wage. Be nice to them, and they may just give you a nod the next time there’s plenty of action at the table.
By following these simple rules and not turning yourself into public enemy number one, you’ll not only keep other players on your side, but also provide yourself with more opportunities to get involved with games that could end up being profitable. It’s also worth noting that you should act like you do in any normal social situation. Many people put on a person when it comes to casino gaming, but you’ll get a lot further if you don’t live a lie!
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