This is yet another article in our basics of poker series. Previously we discussed the rank of hands, how to bet and the different types of poker. Following is a continuation where we cover the etiquette expected when playing poker. The majority of experienced players get annoyed at those who have bad poker etiquette. Besides angering other players, having bad manners at the poker table can also put you at a disadvantage by flagging you as a newbie to the game.
As with the rules of play, there is no authoritative body that sets the rules of etiquette. Friendly home games will often allow for relaxed etiquette, but in general it would be a good idea to follow the following tips if you are playing with new opponents. We’ve organized this list in order of importance. The closer to the bottom, the more relaxed.
Wait your turn
Betting usually will begin with the player to the left of the dealer and then continue to rotate clockwise around the table. Never bet or fold when it isn’t your turn. Beginners sometimes don’t realize that folding out of turn is unfair to the other players who have already bet since this might affect the play.
Keep your eyes on the table
Nothing is more annoying than a player asking whose turn it is when its been their turn for the last minute. Keep the game moving at a good pace by paying attention to who is betting and what your next move will be.
Keep your cards on the table
Even if you arent cheating it looks suspicious when cards are held below the table out of sight from the other players. In a casino if players cards go off the table their hand is automatically mucked.
Keep your chips on the table
Resist the temptation of taking chips off the table and pocketing them to ensure that you walk away with some cash. Its not allowed to remove chips. Once you buy into a game chips must remain on the table until you leave the game.
Don’t allow others to see your cards
This sounds obvious and many beginners actually think it doesn’t matter since you are only hurting yourself. This is not the case. You are also hurting the group by giving one player the advantage of knowing your cards. Any information one player has over the others gives an unfair advantage. Protect your cards with your hands and consciously make sure that you arent allowing another player a view of your cards. Whenever you fold toss your cards to the dealer face-down.
Keep quiet if you aren’t in the hand
You have no business affecting the game after you’ve folded. This applies both to talking about your hand or giving body gestures that might allude to what you had. For example, say in Texas Hold Em you fold a Q-2 off-suit and the flop comes up Q-Q-Q. If you give a noticeable reaction in anger everybody at the table knows where the other queen was.
Avoid the string bets
A string bet is when a player pauses during the bet in an attempt to gauge the reaction of the other players. For example, don’t say I call … and then wait a few seconds before adding and raise you $10. String raises like this are bad etiquette because so much of the game is based around interpreting the players reactions. Its unfair to see this reaction before making your raise.
Running out on the blinds
In any game where blinds are required (like Hold Em), it is considered rude to leave the table intentionally when your turn comes up the pay the blind. Sometimes players will do this to avoid a bad hand. There is a difference between playing smart and being cheap. Everybody has to pay the blinds eventually dont try to get out of your responsibility.
No lying about your hands
Don’t lie about your hand, even if it is jokingly. Another player might not realize that you were joking and throw his hand into the muck where he cant retrieve his cards. In casinos you must flip your cards over and let people see what you really have, despite anything you say.
No slow rolls
When you know that you have the winning hand, its bad form to pause before flipping your cards after the other players have shown. Players view this as taunting and generally arent in the mode for this at any time, especially right after losing.
Mind your manners
Just because you are at a poker table doesn’t mean that you can leave your manners at the door. Avoid being a jerk to the other players, attempting to pick up players of the opposite sex, showing disrespect to the dealer, and swearing.
Don’t splash the pot
A player splashes the pot when he throws his chips into the pot and mixes up all the chips. The technically correct thing to do is slide your stack of chips in front of you, but not in the pot. This allows all players to easily see how much everybody has bet and avoids fights in the case of a dispute. This is especially important at a casino but not as widely followed at home.
No rabbit hunting
Don’t dig through the muck after folding to see what could have been. Most consider this bad manners and it just ends up slowing down the game. Rabbit hunting only happens at home games as casinos wont let you dig around.
Leave the analysis to the professionals on TV. Its not OK to talk about the current hand in play. Whether or not you’ve folded, wait until after the showdown if you feel the need to bless the crowd with your insight.
One player to a hand
On a related note, you don’t get to receive advice from other players throughout the duration of a hand. A beginner might get helped with some tips and hints in a relaxed game if the stakes aren’t high, but don’t expect to be helped. Play your own and don’t ask for assistance.