Have you ever been to a fancy dinner party? You know, the kind of party where you have multiple forks and knives, and you’re never quite sure which one you’re supposed to use at any given time? If you’ve been to such an affair, then chances are you were more self-conscious of your manners and etiquette than normal. No rude behavior or anything like that, right? While not quite as fancy, a poker table is a place that also commands basic poker etiquette and protocol. Really, you should respect the game as well as the players, because there is money being spent at the table.
Whether playing with a few friends at home, a live game at a casino, or online, poker etiquette is pretty much universal. To help you avoid looking rude or foolish, we’ve devised a list of do’s and don’t’s that you should take to heart and follow as closely as possible. Most of them are easy enough to remember. The general theme to all of them is “don’t be a jerk.”
Live Poker Etiquette at a Casino
If you’ve ever played a round of poker at a casino, you may have been among some colorful characters. Just because money is on the line doesn’t mean that the game attracts the best players. A lot of the time you may see people who don’t follow these guidelines or rules of etiquette. Odds are that you have noticed such behavior. Hopefully when seeing others do it you realize how important having a prescribed set of manners is. With that in mind, here are some standard rules of poker etiquette for whenever you are at the casino.
This term refers to pretending that you have a losing hand then showing a winner at the last second. A slow roller will maybe pretend that they are folding, but at the last second he or she flips over the cards to reveal a winner. Often this is followed by a laugh or a smug look. Don’t be that kind of player who likes to revel in your wins. It’s poor sportsmanship, and it can hold up the game. Think about it this way; if everyone slow rolled, would the game be any fun at all?
As a general rule, don’t ever show your cards unless it’s to win a pot. Even if you’re about to fold, you don’t want to show them, as they can affect other players’ decision-making process. You may think it’s harmless to toss out your losing hand in full view of the table, but it can have real consequences for some players.
One cardinal poker sin is showing your hand to your neighbors who are no longer in the hand. It comes across as extremely rude and unprofessional. If you can show to one person, then in the interest of fairness, everyone should see it. If you don’t feel comfortable revealing your hand in a live game, then don’t show it to anyone.
For the most part, poker tables are relatively quiet places. All the players are focused on their hands and playing against everyone else, so it’s unusual to have a conversation. However, some newbies or rude players will tend to talk a lot, either about the hand or nothing in particular. As a rule, limit your table-talk, as it can be distracting and unprofessional.
Also, never talk about a hand that you’re not in. You may think it’s innocuous, but some players may think that you’re offering advice to use against them. This can create an awful lot of tension. If you have a habit of blurting that kind of stuff out, make sure to keep it in your head.
Leaving the Table
Eventually, you will have to exit the table at some point. Whether it’s to stretch, use the bathroom, or take a phone call, leaving the table is something that all players do from time to time. However, to keep things pleasant and accommodating, try to limit your departures as much as possible as they can affect how the hands are played. Also, when a player gets up too often, it can be a distraction for those left in the game.
One rule that is usually hard and fast is that you should never talk on the phone at the table. Even if you’re in the middle of a hand, either wait and call that person back or ignore the call in the first place. Most casinos have a strict rule about phones at the table anyway, so avoid using it altogether when you’re playing.
If you’re not familiar with the term, angle shooting is the act of doing things that are technically legal, but otherwise considered unfair or unethical. One common example of angle shooting is to announce what cards you have so as to force someone to fold when in reality your hand is different than what you’ve said. While this is not technically forbidden in the rules, it is considered unfair as it abuses the amount of trust you have at the table.
A great way to watch out for angle shooting is if you ever have to defend yourself by saying “well, technically speaking-.” Don’t do it, ever. To read more about this aspect of poker etiquette, why not have a look at our angle shooting guide.
When you’re at the table, you don’t want to overextend your bounds by making wild hand motions or physical plays. As a rule, poker players are very tight in how much they move in their seat, so you would do best to follow along.
One significantly adverse action that you could do is “string betting.” This is when you place a bet and then keep adding chips to increase the size. Whenever you make a bet, do it in one motion so that there is no confusion from the other players, and no one can accuse you of capping your bet after the fact.
Another thing to watch out for is splashing the pot. This is when you toss your chips into the center in a haphazard way. Doing so is rude and unprofessional, as it requires the dealer to clean it up and can potentially cause chips to roll into a player’s stack. The same goes for mucking your cards. No matter how angry you are, don’t take it out on the game or the dealer.
Overall, you want to be respectful and courteous to everyone at the table. Eventually, someone is going to take your money, so you want them to act in a polite and civilized way when that happens. The golden rule applies to the poker table as it does everywhere else, treat everyone the same way you would want to be treated. As long as you follow this rule, you should have a positive experience, even if you do wind up busting out.
Online Poker Etiquette
When comparing playing poker in person to online, most of these rules still apply. However, because players are not in the same room, many of them take this as free license to be rude or a jackass. Don’t be one of those players, and keep these things in mind.
Don’t Abuse the Chat Box
Chat boxes are there to allow people to have a conversation and talk to each other in a way that is not possible in a live game. However, just because you’re separated by a screen and a keyboard doesn’t mean that you should start cursing or hurling insults in the box. Not only is it rude, but it could get you in trouble with the site’s administrators.
As a rule, you don’t want to berate newbie players for the way that they are playing, either. Even if they are making boneheaded mistakes, you’re not there to provide a free poker lesson. If you are truly concerned as to how well they do, you can ask to talk to them in private. Public harassment in the box is not the best way to go about things.
For some hardcore poker players, they may be playing on multiple tables at the same time. While this can lead to bigger rewards, it can also mean that they take longer to make a decision. Similarly, being online means you have more distractions that can take your attention away from the game. However, you still want to make your plays on time. Just because you don’t have seven people staring at you doesn’t mean you should abuse the clock.
What to Remember
When it comes to poker etiquette, the thing to remember is professionalism. Even if you’re playing for fun, you have to consider the other people at the table. If you want a rowdy good time, then play at home with your friends. If you are in the company of strangers, then it’s best to be on good behavior so as to avoid any unpleasantness. Conduct yourself with class and dignity, and you should be good. Here’s our top advice:
- Don’t talk about the hands or give advice
- Do not play out of turn
- Avoid slinging insults or accusations at players or the dealer
- Keep all of your chips on the table at all times
- Protect your chips and cards
- Never slow roll or misrepresent your hand
Poker Etiquette Conclusion
As far as manners on the poker table are concerned, the important thing for you to do is to act in a way that no one can accuse you of being anything but a good sport. Even if you wind up losing your entire bankroll, remember that no one forced you to make a play or sit at the table. You are the only one in charge of your actions, so make sure that you do everything as polite and respectfully as possible.
So that’s you all caught up on poker etiquette! Now you know the expected behavior at the tables you can play anywhere without unwittingly irritating your fellow players. We hope you enjoyed reading our guide to good poker etiquette, and we look forward to hearing your comments below!