Poker is played and enjoyed by many, first and foremost, as a form of pure entertainment. There are some players that truly only care about how much money they can win, which is fine of course, but there are also a lot of players that are primarily interested in having fun.
These players would love to win some money if they could, but they don’t mind losing, provided they are having an enjoyable experience. Here are 10 etiquette rules at the poker table.
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This is why acting appropriately and respectfully while playing poker is so important. To some extent, you are responsible for ensuring that other players have a positive experience. Knowing how to play is not enough, as you need to understand the rules for behaving, too.
See also – 6 Popular Places to Play Poker in New Zealand.
There’s some etiquette involved in poker. Some unwritten rules dictate what you should and shouldn’t do; breaking these will likely alienate your fellow players. You should be aware of these, as you don’t want to upset your opponents and ruin their overall gaming experience.
There are several formal rules, too, which you must abide by to avoid a penalty or being asked to leave a game altogether.
Here are the top five rules for behaving “correctly” at the poker table and our top five taboos you should avoid. In addition to that, we also focus on some extra etiquette that’s worth mentioning.
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Ten Golden Etiquette Rules To Follow
The following rules are what we consider to be the 10 golden rules of poker that you should always try to follow when playing it live.
1. Be Generous and Courteous
If you play live poker long enough, you’ll probably encounter plenty of players who don’t follow this rule. This is one of the rules at the Poker Table. It’s a very easy one to stick to yourself, and there’s no reason for not being polite to your fellow players or your dealers, for that matter.
You don’t have to overdo it, and you can even stay quiet if you want to, but using good manners isn’t hard to do, and it’ll create a more welcoming atmosphere at the table.
2. Be Attentive to the Play
You have a responsibility to pay attention to what’s happening at the poker table while you’re playing, and it’s especially important to know when it’s your turn to act.
It would not take long for other players to get frustrated if they have to remind you constantly when to play. You should also ensure you promptly post your blinds and antes and avoid acting out of turn.
Don’t take excessive time while making simple decisions, and don’t keep players waiting while you order a drink or something to eat.
3. Make Your Actions Clear
Making your actions clear will make not only your life but your opponent’s life easier as well.
Shoving a few chips into the pot and mumbling “call” or “raise” under your breath doesn’t give you an advantage, and it’ll probably just annoy your opponents. It’s not tough to slide a neat stack of chips before you and declare your actions.
This will avoid any confusion and help ensure you don’t get accused of trying to gain an unfair advantage by misrepresenting your actions.
4. If You Show One, Show All
You can show the table your cards if you win a hand without going to a showdown. What you cannot do, though, is show them to just one player.
This potentially gives that player an unfair advantage, as they are then in possession of information that no one else can access. It may not be that helpful to them, but the principle of the matter is the real concern.
As the saying goes, “If you show one, you must show all.” The same rule applies if you throw away without showing a losing hand after going to the showdown.
5. Be Gracious in Defeat and Victory
No one wants to look, so you should always be gracious in defeat and victory while at the poker table. There’s nothing wrong with showing a little bit of frustration following a particularly crushing defeat. But you won’t gain any respect by going on a massive rant whenever you lose a hand.
Likewise, a small celebration after winning a big pot is perfectly acceptable. Celebrating too wildly will agitate your opponents, and boasting about how brilliantly you played a hand is equally annoying. If you want the respect of your opponents, then you should act with some degree of humility.
6. Don’t splash the pot
You won’t do this if you follow our golden rule #3. But knowing what the term means and why you shouldn’t do it is a good idea. Splashing the pot is throwing your chips into the pot when making a bet, call, or raise.
This is considered bad etiquette, making it extremely difficult to see exactly how many chips you are betting.
7. Don’t make string bets
A string bet is when you don’t make your bet continuously, which means you put a few chips in front of you, then a few more, then a few more, and have not announced the total amount of your bet out loud.
This is frowned upon and is technically against the rules, as it not only slows down the game but can also be used to gain an advantage over your opponents. String betting can allow you to gauge an opponent’s reaction to the size of your bet and then decide whether or not to increase it based on their response.
String betting is prevalent and, at times, an unintentional mistake that inexperienced players typically make. Players can use it for tactical reasons, but this isn’t usually true.
You don’t want to be accused of attempting to cheat, so you really should try hard to avoid making string bets. Again, following our golden rule #3 is relatively easy.
8. Be considerate to others at the table
When playing live poker, it’s possible that you could spend several hours sitting next to the same players. Although you want to beat your opponents, you don’t want to ruin their experience. Being considerate might seem like common sense, but there may be a few things that you haven’t considered in the list below.
If smoking is allowed, it’s still courteous to ask neighbouring players if they would object to you having a cigarette.
Some basic personal hygiene is also a must. Sitting next to a player who doesn’t smell very pleasant could negatively affect a player’s experience.
Many people are offended by swearing, so you should keep the profanity to an absolute minimum.
There’s nothing wrong with having a drink when playing, but moderation is a good idea. A player with too many drinks can easily ruin a game for everyone else. Besides, you’re unlikely to play well if drunk or intoxicated.
9. Keep your cards visible when you’re in a hand
Keeping your cards visible when you’re active in a hand might not seem like a big deal, but it’s essential. Many players will assume you are no longer in the hand if your cards are hidden behind your chip stack or underneath your hands. This could lead to someone acting out of turn through no genuine fault.
When we say that your cards should be visible, we don’t mean expose them face up. They should be placed in front of you so that everyone at the table can see that you are still active in hand.
10. Tipping the Dealers in Poker Games
We’ll finish with this point because it’s somewhat controversial. It could be argued that it has nothing to do with poker table etiquette, as it doesn’t affect your fellow players, and there are no specific rules relating to tipping the dealers.
We feel it’s worth mentioning, though, because it’s an issue that some pokers don’t know how to approach this situation.
There is no right or wrong decision to make here. You are not obliged to tip a dealer at any point, and many poker players steadfastly refuse to tip because they are already paying rake to the casino.
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It’s worth noting, however, that many dealers worldwide aren’t paid very well, and some even rely on tips to make a living. This doesn’t have to affect your thinking, of course, and the decision to tip or not is entirely up to you, regardless of what a dealer earns.
With all of that being said, we are advocates of tipping the dealers. It doesn’t have to be a huge amount, and you don’t have to tip every time you win a pot, but we believe it’s reasonable to offer at least one tip at the end of your playing session.
We would also advise that you base the size of your tip more on how the dealer performed and less on how much you won or lost during your session. A dealer who has dealt quickly and efficiently, in a friendly and pleasant manner, deserves a larger tip than a dealer who continuously made mistakes and wasn’t particularly friendly.
In conclusion, poker is not just about the cards you’re dealt; it’s about the respect, courtesy, and camaraderie you bring to the table. Whether tossing chips in for a bet, celebrating a win, or nursing a loss, remember that your actions contribute to the game’s atmosphere. Be mindful of your fellow players and the dealer, practising patience and kindness.
This etiquette goes beyond the game’s rules; it fosters a positive environment where everyone can enjoy the thrill of poker. So next time you sit down at a table, whether it’s in the heart of Auckland or a local casino, carry these ten golden rules with you.
They won’t just make you a better player; they’ll make you a cherished member of the poker community. Good luck, and remember, the true spirit of poker lies in the respect we show one another.