While we all love poker, an increasingly fractious subject within the game is poker etiquette. From shot clocks to being polite and welcoming at the table, professionals and amateurs alike are more concerned than ever with how the game is played. So how can you make sure that you bring plenty of fun but no drama to the next online or live poker tournament that you play? We can show you the way…
Don’t Act Out of Turn
One of the worst things that you can do in a live game of poker is act out of turn. Yes, we know that the way some players sit with their hands cupped around their chips, cards and mobile like a squirrel saving up nuts for winter. But it’s your responsibility to make sure that you only act when it is your turn. If you act out of turn you can be punished, with repeated offences often leading to more stringent measures. It can put you off your game and disrupt your rhythm. It also advertises to the table that you’re not really that observant. Pay attention!
Keep it Clean
It may seem easy to simply stay clean, by washing, showering, or even having a shave, but sadly is beyond plenty of poker players. Using deodorant should be mandatory – in fact, we’ve often considered the merits of handing them out as ‘spot-prizes’ at a live venue. But there is a selfish reason for looking and smelling fresh – the nicer you are to be around, the more likely it is that players won’t target you! Clubs like Dusk Till Dawn offer static hand cleansers around the venue that are touch-free and for your own health as well as others – use them!
Stay in Your Seat
Staying in your seat in live poker is one of the easiest ways of making friends. Don’t get up and walk away if action is either on you or about to be – it tells people that your hand is weak, and reveals information to other players. It is an influence on action at the table and therefore not allowed. Save yourself an orbit-ban by staying sat down when not involved or preferably until the hand is over. Even better? Wait for the break!
Don’t Declare Hands
One of the most annoying thing heard at the poker table isn’t ‘one time’ or ‘hold!’ although both of those could happily be flushed into Poker Room 101. Declaring that you’ve “folded an ace” when someone’s A-9 is all-in and up against pocket jacks for example, is out of order, and can win you a target on your back in the time it takes for those committed players to see a flop. How would you like to hear that if your tournament life was at stake and you were staring at the dealer praying for a miracle? Thought so.
Keep it Quick
From shot clock discussions to moans about the World Series of Poker finalists tanking for minutes on end to fold basic garage, time of not just of the essence in poker, it’s of the moment. Players are sick and tired of waiting hours for hours when they’re already seeing roughly a third of hands-per-hour that they would online. Don’t be part of the problem. There are justifiable reasons for both Hollywooding or tanking… but these are few and far between. If you’re doing it in every hand, then you’re making yourself the enemy of up to nine other players. Not wise.
Tell the Truth
Hang on, this is poker. Tell the truth? We’re trying to bluff our opponents off every pot. Don’t worry, we’re not suggesting that you should abandon the skills that make you good at what you do. But after a hand has gone to showdown, misrepresenting your hand is one of the biggest faux pas in the game. Saying that you’re strong when you’re not can provoke animosity from your opponent and earn you’re a bad reputation as an ‘angle shooter’ from your peers. Play a hard game, but play it fairly.
One of the worst displays of all-time we saw was a three-way all-in pre-flop and near the bubble of a live tournament where the eventual winner would take home over £15,000. He saw his shove called by both of his opponents, then called over his friends, telling them that they ‘have to see this’ before turning over pocket aces! This is the perfect example of what a slowroll is, and it’s not as rare as you’d think. If you’ve got the nuts, then there are very few legitimate reasons for not taking positive action quickly. Show your hand, act gracefully and good karma may be on its way to you.
Discussing a hand while it is taking place is another massive no-no in poker. Obviously, this happens rarely online, where a chat box traditionally takes a lot longer to escalate to hand discussion due to multi-tabling whereas a live table will see players sitting idly waiting for the next hand. But it is still imperative that you respect the people taking part in the hand if you’re not. Again, thinking about how you’d feel if the boot was on the other foot is the way forward.
Respect the Dealer
One might suppose this is a point of etiquette that is hard to ignore. The dealer is generally a benign individual, merely progressing the game of poker according to the rules. Helpful, blameless and human, these benevolent folk are, however, on the wrong end of many a misplaced tirade from players who blame them for whichever card drops on the river to others who choose to waste their mental energies on engaging with the only person at the table who isn’t taking chips from them. Be cool.
Don’t Attack Opponents
If it is common to see the dealer get a mouthful, then players themselves receiving words of anger from another at the table is an epidemic. Berating players – any players – is really poor form, as is the sadly popular knack some pros have for telling a less-experienced player how they might better have played the previous hand. Well done, Brainiac – you just made yourself look more fool than rhubarb and improved your opponent’s awareness to their weaknesses. Bravo.
Be a Good Winner
Last but certainly not least is the reminder that while no-one outside the current Aston Villa dressing room is a natural loser, being a good winner should be automatic too. We all wan to win at poker, but the game – and guarantees – will only grow if it is a fun, welcoming environment to join for newcomers. Keep the game fast and friendly, the action intense but fair and you’ll find the whole experience is better for everyone… including yourself!