The Etiquette Guide: How to Play Nice at the Poker Table

Etiquette isn’t spoken about as much as other things, such as bonus codes, hold’em rules or sit n go bubble strategy, but it’s equally as important, if not more so.

Think of poker like you would sports, like baseball or football. You’re there to be competitive and win, but you still need to respect the other players (win or lose), follow the rules (spoken or unspoken) and gracefully accept the different outcomes or situations you face.

Above all, no one likes having to play with an asshole. Do you want to be that guy?

10 Manners to Have at the Poker Table

Below you’ll find a list of 10 manners that I think are the most important to have at the poker table. Chances are that if you’ve played any poker at all, you’ve heard of at least a couple of these.

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1. Don’t Criticize Other Players

You might think that you’re doing your opponent a favor by telling him how badly he played his hand, and even what he should’ve done different.

But you’re not.

I have not seen one person criticized at the poker table that responded with a, “thank you, that was helpful.” Every player I see criticized takes it personally, and what usually follows is an argument about how one guy sucks with the other guy retorting that he’ll play him hu4rollz (heads up for rolls).

Still not convinced? Well, ask yourself this; would you want someone telling you that the way you played your hand sucked?

I didn’t think so. So don’t do it yourself.

Besides that, you’re not doing yourself any favors telling another player that he sucks. He might’ve thought he was good, and now one of two things will happen — he’ll leave to never come back again, or he’ll come back after improving. Either way you won’t make as much, if any more money from him.

2. While a Hand is in Progress, Don’t Reveal Your (Folded) Hand

First things first, talking while not involved in a hand is borderline poor etiquette. The other players are trying to think and make decisions.

Revealing the hand you folded is definitely poor etiquette though. By telling everyone what hand you folded, you give the other players a disadvantage, especially if not every player can benefit from it (he already acted before you said something).

Besides, no one cares that you folded 65s and would’ve flopped a straight.

3. Talking About The Hand in Progress

Similar to above, talking about the hand in progress is bad manners. Again, by talking about the hand, your thoughts and what draws or hands might be out there, you’re giving guys who would’ve not otherwise thought of it an advantage, and essentially taking away money from the guys who have.

If you want to give a play-by-play analysis of each hand, then maybe you should consider switching places with the guys sitting behind the table with headsets on.

4. Stalling the Game

Poker is slow enough without having to wait on you because you wanted to order food, send a tweet or pick your nose. The other guys are there to play, and by not paying attention you’re slowing the game down for everyone else.

Moreover, slowing the game down can affect the dynamics, namely in tournaments. The blinds increase every so often, and everyone wants to play as many hands before the blinds go up as possible. Stalling the game is a real disservice to the other players at the table.

5. Slow Rolling

Not to be confused with slow playing, slow rolling is knowing that you have the best hand at showdown, but taking your time to flip it over (as if you’re not sure). If you are confident that you have the best hand, you should flip it over right away (in turn, of course).

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6. Asking to See Mucked Hands

According to the rules, even if a player mucks a hand at showdown you are allowed to ask to see it.

However, that’s poor etiquette. Players are allowed to muck their (losing) hands so that they don’t have to show the hand and how they played it to everyone else. Asking to the see the hand is bad because the only reason to do so is to verify that they weren’t cheating or collaborating with someone else. You’re essentially questioning their integrity.

Asking to see a mucked hand (for info) is poor etiquette, and an insult, so don’t do it.

7. Acting Out of Turn

Acting out a turn is poor etiquette for a couple of different reasons:

  • You interrupt the game by acting out a turn. This slows the game down.
  • You change the dynamic of the situation since the players in front of you still have to act and now they know what you were going to do. This now changes their strategy, which then creates a snowball effect. Every player to follow will now act differently.
  • You can possibly create a misdeal. Again, this can cause both time and money, often times both.

There’s not a good reason to act out a turn. You have to wait for a new hand regardless, so you might as well just wait until it’s your turn act.

8. Helping Out Other Players

This should be self-explanatory.

Helping out other players is poor etiquette because when you help one player usually it’s at the expense of another player. You’re taking away money from someone else.

It’s not your job to police the table and point out mistakes. Mistakes is how money is made in poker. So stay out of any hand that you’re not involved in.

9. Over-Celebrating

If you’re not allowed to celebrate for long periods of time in a game like football, what makes you think it’s a good idea in poker?

It’s one thing to scream “yes” when you river a three outer. It’s damn near a miracle, so getting excited is understandable.

However, it’s entirely another thing when you call out your opponent in the chat box, rip your shirt off and dance on the table or point at your opponents and laugh.

When in doubt, just ask yourself if you’d have a problem with your opponent celebrating in a certain way at your expense.

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10. Don’t Ask to Check The Hand Down

In tournaments you’ll frequently be involved in a situation where one player is all in, and you and another player have deep enough stack to play the hand normally. Often times what happens, especially when near the money or in the money and waiting to move up in payouts, players will work together to knock the short stack out.

That’s fine, and perfectly standard in many situations.

However, the agreement to check it down to knock the short stack out has to be unspoken. It’s poor etiquette to say something along the lines of, check it down? or let’s knock this guy out.