Poker is a game of skill, strategy, and etiquette. As a poker player, following specific etiquette rules is essential to ensure an enjoyable experience for everyone involved.
This section focuses on poker played against other players, not casino game versions like 3-Card Poker.
I find poker to have a steep learning curve, and it can take many years to master the game indeed. Don’t worry if you make mistakes when you first begin playing, as this is natural for all new players.
However, having a better understanding of some basic poker etiquette is essential. Below, I’ll walk you through some of the most important things to be aware of.
In poker, you should act quickly, especially when you have an easy decision.
When it’s your turn to make a decision, make a clear and quick choice. If you take too long to decide, it can slow down the game for everyone else.
I want to make something clear. However, you should not feel pressured to rush your decisions.
If you’re facing a big all-in bet and need to decide whether to risk hundreds of pounds, there’s nothing wrong with taking a minute or two to think through your decision.
What I’m getting at here is slowing down the game unnecessarily. For example, if a player is dealt 7-2 offsuit pre-flop who is facing two players raising in front shouldn’t ponder their decision to try and save face; they should throw away their cards and keep the game moving.
Don’t Get Involved In A Hand You’re Not In
It’s essential to stay out of other people’s business and play the cards you’re given. Don’t try to be a part of a hand you aren’t in because it can be annoying and confusing for the other players.
I find this is a bigger problem when playing with drunk players. If two players are involved in a large pot, the last thing they want is a drunken fool speculating what cards they both hold or advising one (or both) players on what action to take.
This is a bannable offence in many land-based poker rooms, and it’s something you should never do.
Don’t Angle Shoot
I’ll be honest; I hate angle shooters. It completely ruins the game and is incredibly unethical. There are several ways a player can angle shoot, and while it’s not technically cheating (in most cases), it will cause other players at the table to venomously dislike you.
Some common examples of angle shooting include:
- Trying to peek at another player’s hole cards.
- Deliberately acting out of turn.
- Hiding your high-value chips to trick players into believing you have less money on the table than you do.
- Counting your chips – or moving them closer to the line – to trick your opponent into believing you’ll raise or call their bet. Used to get a reaction from the player, this gives angle shooters an unfair advantage.
- Verbally announcing “raise”, only to put calling chips into the middle of the table. The dealer will force you to make the raise. Players with a strong hand perform this move to deceive their opponent.
- Announcing you have a winning hand at showdown when you don’t, in an attempt to get your opponent to throw away their hand.
Unfortunately, angle shooting is widespread in live poker environments. If you ever encounter an angle shooter, report their behaviour to the dealer. If they continue to commit offences, the floor manager can penalise them.
Don’t “Hit and Run”
While “hitting and running” isn’t against the rules, it’s considered bad form and could anger other players.
Hitting and running involve sitting at the poker table, winning a big pot almost immediately, and getting up and leaving. As a result, other players will feel cheated, as though they don’t have the chance to win any of their money back.
Of course, I want you to realise there’s nothing wrong with leaving the poker table after winning, but it’s widely considered terrible etiquette to go as soon as you win a big pot.
So if you want to leave, I’d recommend spending another 10 to 15 minutes at the table, folding your hands. This way, you won’t annoy the other players and won’t run into any issues coming back to play in the future.
Don’t Announce What Cards You Held
When I play poker, I never tell other players what cards I folded in the middle of a hand.
This is not only against the rules but can also give away information about how I play, which is unfair to the other players. It can also have a significant impact on the rest of the hand.
From a selfish point of view, it’s for me to keep my cards and decisions to myself. If I tell others what I folded, it can ruin the game for others and me.
The dealer will give you a verbal warning if you announce what cards you folded while other players are still involved in the pot.
Don’t Give Unsolicited Advice
As a poker player, I never advise other players who haven’t asked for it.
Advising without being asked can mess up the game and make other players confused or angry. Every player has a different way of playing and strategy, so what works for me might not work for them. It’s not up to me to criticise or judge what other people do.
Also, advising without being asked can make other gamblers feel uneasy and make me look like I don’t care about other people’s decisions.
I respect that other players have the right to make their own choices regarding their hands, and I concentrate on playing my own game.
If someone asks me for advice, I’ll gladly give it to them, but only when requested.
Don’t Act Out Of Turn
Acting out of turn is one of the biggest mistakes I see new players making.
Unfortunately, however, experienced players also fall foul of making this mistake.
Thankfully, acting out of turn is accidental in most cases, but some players do it deliberately.
When you act out of turn, you’re giving other players at the table – still involved in the pot – additional information.
This is unfair, especially to those who have already acted before you. In specific situations, you could end up ruining the entire hand. You can avoid acting out of turn by closely following the action and waiting for your turn.
Don’t Call The Clock Unless Absolutely Necessary
When playing poker, you always have the option to “call the clock” on another player when they’re taking too long. To do so, you can ask the floor manager. The player in question will have 60 seconds to decide; if they fail to do so, their hand is automatically folded after a minute.
There are situations where it’s acceptable to call the clock on players; I’ve done it myself when pots are small, and players take far too long to decide.
However, it’s generally considered bad etiquette to call the clock on a player, and I firmly believe you should always treat other players with respect.