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Poker Table Talk: Watch What You Say at the Table

Watch What You Say at the Table
by Chad Holloway of

I was at a $1-$2 No Limit Hold’em game the other day when I almost lost some money due to my loose lips. The incident occurred when I stated a raise to $7 preflop with 5-7 offsuit. I got one caller and the flop came down 3-7-10. I said $7 again and my opponent called. The turn was an ace and we both checked. On the river, my opponent checked and I said, “Seven,” stating to my opponent and the table what I had as I began to turn over my cards. My opponent said, “Call,” and started to flip over his cards. He obviously thought that my statement meant I was betting $7. “No, that is what I have in my hand, a seven.” I could see the confusion and realized in many casinos they may have enforced the bet. Luckily, this was a friendly game and not strictly enforced as long as no one complained. Everyone at the table had a good laugh but it reminded me of an important lesson, be careful what you say at the table.

The general rule at the poker table is that verbal is binding. This means you will be held to you say. If you say, “Call” but meant to raise, you will only be allowed to call. If you meant to fold but accidentally said “Raise,” you will be forced to put in at least the minimum raise. These miscalls don’t happen often, but you might see them occur sometimes when a player is exceptionally tired or has a “brain fart.” Also, in my experiences, when these innocent mistakes occur, most players at the table are willing to forgive them. This might mean they’ll allow you to fold even though you accidentally said call or what have you. This is very generous of them since they didn’t have to do it (don’t be mad if the casino makes the players enforce the action, they’re only doing their jobs).


The really tricky situations happen when players intentionally open their mouths to try and gain information from their opponents. Some players will say things like, “Well I can’t fold,” which can be interpreted as a call. This inspires their opponent to expose their cards. If the talker is beat, they can always say, “I never called, I just said I couldn’t fold.” This is called-angle shooting and is highly frowned upon in poker. In fact, angle-shooting is considered a form of cheating and is one of the most disrespectful things to do in the game when done intentionally. I do not recommend angle-shooting for the reasons mentioned above and because it will often cost you money. I’ve been at the table many times when a player says something like the example above and is forced to put in the money. In one instance, a player said, “I’ll put you all-in.” The dealer, as well as most of us at the table, interpreted this as a bet. His opponent called (it was over a $600 pot) and the talker suddenly reversed his tracks. He stated he wasn’t betting but merely saying he was capable of putting his opponent all-in. It could have been either an honest mistake or an angle-shoot, but one thing is for sure, they made him put the money in . . . $300 bucks down the drain just for opening his mouth. The moral of these stories is simple, be careful what you say at the poker table.


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