Etiquette is one area of concern for poker players that’s
applicable almost exclusively to live poker. While there’s
certainly a certain amount of etiquette that should be expected
out of online players as well, it’s hardly anything that the
majority of players will worry about. Etiquette starts from the
moment you sit down at a table, and it’s something that will
likely corner you into a few awkward positions of your live
poker playing career. If you want to ensure that you have a
pleasant experience when playing live poker, etiquette is one of
the many areas of the game that you will need to have a firm
Etiquette in Table Talk
Table talk is arguably the biggest element of poker
etiquette. You can say the wrong thing at the wrong time and it
will be just enough to upset the right type of person. Some
common areas where problems arise are more frequent than others.
Before expanding into how you should handle your general table
talk, we are going to look at some of the “problem areas” that
many players tend to experience.
After a player loses a big pot, there are a handful of things
that they don’t want to hear. This is not to say that some
players aren’t more accepting of your input than others, but it’s generally a good idea to just keep quiet and to
say nothing at all. There’s no point in trying to intervene
when the best case scenario is not really beneficial to anyone
When someone loses a hand, for whatever reason, they
don’t want to hear about how you think they misplayed it. That
is one of the most aggravating things that any poker player can ever
start talking about. Not only were you not involved in the hand,
but it isn’t your money that they are playing with. As odd as
their play might have seemed to you, there’s no reason to try
and belittle an opponent. In fact, even asking why a player
played a hand a certain way is just asking for trouble. Your
best bet in these situations is to simply say nothing at all.
If a few players are involved in a hand of any size, you
shouldn’t be commenting like you are Norman Chad and the game
is being televised on ESPN. Saying things like, “he raised, you
know what THAT means,” or “wow, what an
over bet,” are just asking for trouble. Imagine if you were
playing in a pot and another player started to incessantly
ramble about what they think of your play as the hand is going
on. Not only is this type of table talk totally inappropriate,
but it’s also against the rules in many poker rooms. You’ll
likely get a simple warning the first time that you do it, but
continual talk like this is certainly grounds for removal from a
Perhaps the worst thing that any player can start to talk
about in a game is how bad a certain player is. Not only are you
likely to offend and/or upset the player that’s being
discussed, but there’s more than a good chance that your other
opponents will be aggravated that you are trying to chase a weak
player out of the game. The phrase “don’t tap the glass” is used
in these types of situations, and it means that you should never
try to scare away someone who is trying to hand you their money.
This type of talk often times starts after someone loses a hand
to a poor player. It could have been that the winning player got
lucky, played their hand terribly, or both, and the frustration
from the losing player causes them to call out the bad player.
As annoying as it might be to lose a hand to an inferior player,
it’s just dumb to try and get them to quit or to focus on
playing better. After all, if your opponents were all premier
players, you wouldn’t be able to earn nearly as much money.
One thing to keep in mind is that a player who berates others is
usually not very good at poker themselves. Lots of poker players
have completely unwarranted egos, and you’ll realize that the
biggest mouths frequently correlate with the biggest losers,
both figuratively and literally.
Etiquette in Acting Time
Live poker can be a slow enough game as it is, so taking
unnecessary long periods of time to act in each hand can become
incredibly annoying for other players at the table. Most players
who are guilty of slowing down the game are either drunk, are
new to the game, or are simply not paying attention.
You’ll almost have to learn to deal with drunk players, if only for the fact
that they are going to usually give away all their money. New
players are learning so it’s difficult to be overly critical of
them. Players who don’t actively pay attention to the game,
however, are the most frustrating to deal with. There’s no
excuse for slowing down the game if you are simply talking with
others and/or not paying attention. Always do your best to keep
the game moving at a reasonable pace and no one is going to have
an issue with how long you take to act.
Etiquette in Breaks
Taking a break is fine and there certainly is nothing wrong
with it. The problem with taking breaks stems from players who
constantly wander the floor and are seemingly never in their
seat. If you don’t want to really play, go ahead and rack up.
No one is going to throw a fit if you simply leave.
The reason that players don’t like a constant wanderer is because it means
that one extra seat at the table is now vacant. Players,
especially those in live poker, always want as close to a full
table as possible, so a few empty seats will dramatically change
the pace of the game. While this isn’t the type of issue that
will usually garner disdain from other players, it’s still
something that you should keep in mind.
Etiquette in Following Rules
Rules are something that every player should always be paying
attention to. If you are a long time player with a lot of
experience, the chances are that every facet of the game comes
as second nature to you. For many, however, a disregard or
unawareness of the rules seems to be very commonplace.
One of the biggest poker rules that’s broken in live poker is the order of
action. If you accidentally muck your hand out of turn once, it’s perfectly acceptable and is actually a very common error. It’s the players who do it over and over again who can become
quite a nuisance. Players who intentionally act out of turn are
sometimes looking for an edge over the table, and this kind of
potential cheating mechanism is hardly welcomed. If you are
continually making mistakes at the table, stop whatever else you
are doing and work on focusing your efforts on the game at hand
for a handful of orbits.
The Unwritten Rule
This next area of poker etiquette has to do with following
more of an unwritten rule more than one that’s actually set in
stone. One of the worst things that a player can do in live
poker is start to react to the board after the flop is dealt.
Needless to say, it’s almost always players who already folded
who are guilty of this. In getting upset after the flop is
spread, you are basically telling the world that you would have
made a strong hand. This will tip off each player into realizing
that their opponent is likely weak.
How would you feel if you
raised pre-flop, missed the flop, planned a continuation bet,
and then had another player get all upset after the flop comes?
You now know that the other player is more likely to call you
down, rightfully assuming that it’s less likely that you too
have a big hand. Some players don’t understand why this is such
a breach of poker etiquette, but once you get burned by an over
animated player, you’ll realize that it has no place in the
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