Poker Etiquette: "Going South"
by Chad Holloway of Predictem.com
Poker is a structured game with many rules and regulations; on top of this, players are expected to act properly and follow established etiquette. One such etiquette rule that applies at the poker table is leaving your money on the table until you decide to leave. "Going south" is the term used to describe when a player will take cash off the table, with or without the other players knowing, and it is highly frowned upon. In fact, it is usually prohibited in most casinos and card rooms.
I was recently playing a $1-$2 No Limit Hold'em game when a young man sat down at our table. Judging by his mannerisms and expressions he was extremely inexperienced and was likely in a live card room for the first time. After a time this man managed to put a bad beat on another player and drive his stack up to over $300. This was the biggest hand up to that point, it being a very tight table and all, so it was easy to keep track of who were winner and loser. About twenty minutes later a hand developed between this newcomer and the player in the three seat.
After the three seat bet, the newcomer announced all-in and pushed about $100 in the pot. The dealer counted it out and announced the amount of the raise as seat three pondered the call. It suddenly struck me at this point that the newcomer just went all-in but only had $100 in front of him. What happened to the near $300 he had just won? Had I missed a large pot at this tight table? I looked around the table at everyone's stacks and they were no different than they were a half hour ago. I decided to ask this newcomer what happened to his other chips but I was in a dilemma. I wasn't sure whether I should ask right then and there, in the middle of the hand when another player was pondering a call, or wait until action was complete?
You see, if I brought it up right away, the dealer might make him put the rest of his money (which was now in his pocket as it turned out) which may not be the desired result of seat 3. I decided to wait until the hand was complete. Seat 3 called the newcomer and doubled him up. As the newcomer was stacking his newly won wealth I asked what had happened. He looked confused and legitimately clueless as to the rules but the dealer politely explained he would have to put the money back on the table or leave. He left. So to recap, he took a lot of our money, pocketed it, took some more, and then left. Can you see why "going south" is considered improper?
The point is this, leave the money you bring and win on the table until you are going to leave indefinitely. The only exception to this rule is when a player would like to take a few bucks off to pay a cocktail waitress or order some food. If you are confused as to the rules at a particular card room or poker game, there is nothing wrong with asking. Players are much more willing to explain the "table stakes" policy than they are to let their money mysteriously disappear from the table without a chance to win it back.
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