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POKER ETIQUETTE

Every cardroom and home game has its own formal rules, but there are also common social rules and adhering to them makes for a friendlier and smoother game. Cardroom managers and players sometimes ignore rude players or give them a warning, but some etiquette rules should not be broken and can result in being kicked out of a casino or banned altogether. Hosts of home games can also penalize a rude player by making them put extra chips in the pot. Playing with proper poker etiquette will ensure respect from other players and a more pleasant game every time you play Texas Holdem and every other game. The following are some standards of behavior at a card table:

ONLINE POKER ETIQUETTE

Online poker etiquette also exists. In addition to the standards listed above, there are some additional rules you should adhere to:

  • Don’t pick a username or screen name that is offensive or inappropriate.
  • Just as you shouldn’t swear in a cardroom, you should refrain from swearing or using derogatory or racist language when using the chat box feature online. Even though you’re not playing in person, you should always be respectful of your fellow players.
  • Use the chat feature only for communicating with other players and not to advertise your business or yourself.
  • Don’t use the ‘sit out’ button for too long. If you need a long break from the game, leave the table. Don’t abuse the feature and take up a seat that could be used by someone who is ready to play.
  • As with live games, don’t play slow online either. One of the reasons people enjoy playing online is because it’s much faster than playing live. If you consistently take too long to act, some players are more likely online than in person to tell you to hurry up (by using the chat feature).
  • To help ensure as rapid a game as possible, use the pre-select boxes (to call, raise, fold, etc…) whenever you can. People appreciate it when you use them.
  • For people who play multiple games at once, only play as that you can keep up with; if you’re making a table wait for you too much, play few tables.

 

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LAND BASED POKER ETIQUETTE

  • Have a basic, working knowledge of the game so you don’t have to bother and distract people asking how to play. Beginners are encouraged to teach themselves the basics of the game before playing against other people. Online cardrooms, such as PokerStars.com have tutorials and free tables where you can learn and practice before playing against other people and using fake money.
  • When you’re playing against new players, be patient with them and don’t scold them if they make a mistake. You don’t want to scare players away from the game forever (especially since they’re a potential source of money that you can win).
  • Don’t give lessons to other players at the table. It’s condescending and maybe the player is pretending to not know the game that well.
  • Don’t slow down the game. You shouldn’t take too long to look at your hand and make a decision on how you’re going to play. It’s annoying to play against someone who is constantly having the clock called against them. When it’s your turn, you should be ready to place your bet.
  • Pay attention during the game and don’t ask the dealer to remind you what’s happening. This slows down the game and annoys the dealer and other players. Stay on top of the game.

 

  • Your cards, chips and money should always be in clear sight.
  • You may not remove any chips from the table during play.

 

  • Don’t stack your chips in a tall tower in front of you such that the dealer and other players can’t see you or your hand. Plus, it’s distracting and annoying if they should come crashing down. Keep them at an average height and put the most expensive chips in front so other players know how much money you can potentially bet.

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  • Don’t ever touch an opponent’s chips. If you question the amount of chips they have, ask the dealer for a chip count – don’t do it by yourself.

 

  • When putting your chips in the pot, don’t throw them – this is called ‘splashing the pot.’ Your opponents and the dealer need to make sure you put in the correct amount of chips and aren’t trying to short the pot. The right way to put chips in the pot is to stack them neatly in a way that makes them easy to count and then slide them into the pot. You can also say how much you’re betting so the other players know how much; this also reduces uncertainty about the actual chip count.
  • House rules might state that you place the chips in front of you for the dealer to pick up and put into the pot in order to avoid shortchanging the pot.

 

  • By putting a chip on your card, you are signifying that you are still in the game and have not yet folded.
  • Don’t try to peek at other players’ cards, but if they’ve been negligent in hiding them and exposed their cards, you are allowed to look without being penalized.

 

  • Keep your cards face-down and don’t show them to inactive players – even if you’ve folded. If you did show them to one person, you should then show them to everyone so nobody has an advantage. However, do try to not show them to anyone.
  • Do not discuss your hand if you are no longer playing. If you have folded, do not indicate what your cards were. This may give a hint to those still playing and may alter their play and the outcome.

 

  • Don’t react to the community cards if you’ve already folded your hand as this can give clues to what kind of cards you had in your hand that no longer have the potential of showing up on the board.
  • Don’t comment  or make predictions on what kind off hand you think a player is holding or make predictions on possible hands that could be made from the community cards (regardless if you’re still in the game or not). You’re not on a team – poker is a game where individuals make their own assessment of the cards and it’s not appropriate to analyze the cards for everybody else.

 

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  • Do not show your cards before showdown or you might forfeit your hand.
  • Do not play out of turn as this can give an unfair advantage to the other players.

 

  • Play at the same level of aggressiveness with all players equally and don’t play soft with one person at the table. It’s bad form to check a person when a bet is the better move just because you’re playing soft with them.
  • If you’re playing a game with forced blind bets, it’s bad poker etiquette to repeatedly leave the table if you’re trying to avoid posting the forced blinds or to avoid playing from a weak position (the blind bets and the seats directly to the left of the blind bets).

 

  • Many players get upset if a player is in a game for a short amount of time, wins a big pot, and then immediately leaves the table and cashes in their chips. Players would prefer those players stay in longer so they can have an opportunity to win their money back. There aren’t any rules banning people from doing this in a cardroom, but other players still find it irritating. However, this is not standard practice at home games where others should have a chance to win back some of their money. Instead, let them know you will be staying for only a few more rounds.
  • If you need to take a break longer than ten minutes, you should inform the dealer and the floorperson. Many places allow two players at a time to take an extended break without having to leave the game. When this is permitted, it is polite to offer the remaining players to “play over” the players who have left.

 

  • Don’t mis-declare a hand at showdown as this slows down the game and is bothersome and very rude to the dealer and the other players still in the hand who have to waste time confirming the actual winning hand. The dealer has to announce the winning hand, so a player lying about what they had is frustrating for everyone. It could be considered cheating, too, if the player is hoping nobody notices they don’t have the winning hand.
  • Don’t slow roll. This is when you suspect you have the winning hand, but you hesitate briefly at showdown so other players think someone else has won, but then you turn your cards over and make it known you’ve won instead. It’s just bad poker etiquette; turn your cards over at showdown at the same time as everyone else.

 

  • Don’t rabbit hunt as it slows down the game. Rabbit hunting is when the hand is over because all but one player folded and you ask the dealer to show you the cards to see if the game had continued what kind of hand you would have had. This also applies to a player who bluffs everyone into folding and then asks to see the cards to see if they would have won anything had the hand continued.
  • Use the language spoken at the table so others will not think you are in collusion with someone else.

 

  • Don’t swear. It’s just rude no matter where you are, and that includes the cardroom. Nobody wants to spend their time with and play against a classless individual.
  • Be polite when you let the dealer know that they have made a mistake. Never abuse them or blame them for your losing hand or having bad luck.

 

  • The dealer is responsible for maintaining a smooth game. They shouldn’t comment on hands, give players tips or look at mucked cards. They also shouldn’t chat with players as that will slow down the game.
  • When you win a hand, it is common poker etiquette to tip the dealer. This can be a few dollars or a small percentage of your pot.

 

  • Announce to the dealer when you are going all-in so that they may also announce it to others.
  • Don’t damage the cards by tearing or wrinkling them out of frustration, and don’t throw them, either. This disrupts the game and makes you look bad, not to mention the cost of having to replace the cards.
  • Keep the area in front of your seat neat and tidy and keep the area where the cards are in contact with the table free of food and drinks that could soil the cards. Also keep your hands clean to make sure the cards aren’t dirtied.

 

  • Drinking at the table is fine (as long as you don’t put your drink on the table; use the cup holders provided, or keep it out of the playing area), but don’t get excessively drunk. You can become obnoxious and your response time to the game is slower – this can make the other players uncomfortable and annoyed that the game is slowed down.
  • If you’re playing in a cardroom that allows smoking, make sure to always know where the lit end of the cigarette is and avoid burning anything (or anyone!). Also, be polite and blow the smoke away from other players. Pipes, clove cigarettes and cigars are irritating to many people, so unless you’re at a home game where they’re accepted, avoid smoking these around strangers. Never ask a person to stop smoking at a table that allows it; if it’s that bothersome to you, play in a smoke-free cardroom. Direct any questions or concerns you have about smoke at a table to the houseperson whose job it is to determine whether a game is smoke-free or allows smoking.

 

  • If you lose a hand, you should try to lose with grace and not lose your cool as well. It’s fine to say that the winning player did a good job and/or had a good hand, in fact, that’s quite polite (you can also tap the table to indicate this). But under no circumstance should you yell at them or make a scene.
  • The same applies to winning a hand: win with grace. Don’t gloat about your win or taunt the losing players or make a scene that you’ve won. It is good poker etiquette to remain silent about your win.

 

  • General etiquette rules apply as well, such as being polite, no food or drinks on the table, and turning the ringer off on your cell phone. If you need to use the phone, leave the table and have your conversation elsewhere.
  • Keep the volume of your music volume low enough so nobody else can hear it through your headphones – it’s distracting to the other players. Also, don’t have it so loud so that you can’t hear the comments and questions from the dealer and other players.

 

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  • If you’re playing at a home game with a television on, its volume should be low enough that it’s not distracting from the game. No matter where you play, focus on the game and don’t cheer loudly at a sporting event on the television or sing loudly to music in the background. This is distracting for players who are trying to focus on the poker game and makes for a less-interesting game if it appears you’re not all that keen on playing.

When you’ve finished playing and want to leave the table, be it in a cardroom or at a home game, you should thank the dealer and the other players for a great game. If you’re hosting a game, you should thank all of the players for coming over and playing.

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