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Poker Etiquette

Poker Etiquette
by Loki Luchs of

For any serious poker player, literally every second spent at a table is a chance to make money. There are many positive equity decisions that will help you do better at the table. Most of these are based in how well you are playing the hands, but there are other factors that do make a difference in your overall expected value. One of the things that has always helped me stay focused is to be sure that Iím having a good time. When Iím talking, joking, or bull-shitting at a table, I make money. When the table is silent, no one is having a good time. People are usually more likely to play a loose, soft game when theyíre having fun.

In my opinion, the fastest way to ruin the atmosphere of the table is to have poor etiquette. Nothing ruins the good vibes quicker than when players start acting like jackasses. The second that youíre worrying about anything thatís not at the table, youíre not playing your ďAĒ game. There are forty-thousand ways to be a jerk, but most of these things are little. Itís the big ones that will make you enemies. For 95% of the errors that you might make, a simple apology will do. Apologize, sincerely, and then donít do it again. A lack of an apology for mistakes (even when itís not completely your fault) is adding insult to injury. Apologize, tell a joke, and move along to the next hand.


First and foremost, pay attention. If itís your turn to act, be sure that you know it. In most games, players are anxious for action, so donít waste their time by being consistently slow to act. A good dealer can get in between 30 to 35 hands an hour. A great dealer in a tight game can get in 40. If youíre consistently slowing down the action, youíre wasting everybodyís time. Some players may only be able to play in a casino once a year, so they are twitching to play. Another problem is that while it doesnít mean much that you might slow down the game by a hand or two an hour, it tends to break up the pacing. People that fall into the pacing of the game start playing predictably. This pre-determined behavior by other players will reveal information because theyíre giving away their actions before they act. If the rhythm is broken, fewer of these tells are visible.

Another big annoyance is when a player starts telling the bad beat stories. On my best day, I will give a sympathetic nod and make a mental note to take all of your money. On my bad days, I canít tell you how little I care that you lost a coin-flip (and I make a mental note that Iím making you my personal ATM for the rest of the night). The constant bitching puts everyone in a bad mood, the fish who took your money inevitably gets uncomfortable, and all of the action slows. In short: Youíre a dickÖ and no one caresÖ no oneÖ No one at all. You deserve to lose every cent you have.

One of the biggest mistakes you can make at the table is discussing a hand that youíre not involved in. If youíre not wagering money in the pot, donít say a damn thing. Youíre not wagering money, so you shouldnít have anything to say. It doesnít matter if the board has a royal flush on it, because youíre not involved. Players go into a daze sometimes; if one player zones out and isnít paying attention, they may not see what is obvious to you. This shut-up or get-up attitude doesnít only apply to the players in the hand! Donít tap your neighbor and whisper that the board is four-flushed, or that the board has the nuts on it, or that you folded two cards that would have hit the flop. The smallest amounts of information can have major ramifications on the action of the hand.

If you happen to be a perpetrator of these offenses, take them out of your game. Keep the game fun and the money will flow openly. If you find that youíre making these mistakes, adjust your game; of course, when youíre in doubt, apologize!

Poker Etiquette: Defending Your Dealer
Poker Etiquette: Going South
Apologizing at the Poker Table
Keeping Your Cool When a Problem Arises


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