Ultimate Guide to Poker Etiquette – Online & at the Table

By Kody Miller
Published on October 10, 2016
Proper Poker Etiquette - Ultimate Guide to How To Act at the Poker Table and Online

We’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Poker is a very social game. There’s more happening with the people at the table than with their hole-cards. You should also be aware that there are more rules to poker than the game itself. Learning some standard poker etiquette will communicate to others that you’re you might care about respecting social laws.

We all know that some of us might already be in the rude camp of people who leave their leftovers in the fridge at the office, who argue publicly on social networks, and who don’t signal when they make a turn. If that’s the case, and you just don’t have manners or don’t care, this article won’t really help you. If you do care about being polite at the poker table, I suggest these points of etiquette for you to ponder.

Be social

Yes, poker is a social game. Keep the conversation light, or funny. Just please, for the love of God, don’t talk about your bad beats. This is what every newbie player whose lack of confidence and obvious poor skill talks about. Nobody wants to hear your bad beat story at the table, nobody. Also, don’t hit on women at the poker table or anywhere publicly. Nobody wants the tension of your catcalls and inevitable rejection from the female wait staff.

Be professional

This isn’t golf, but this a game where you can make a lot of money. You don’t want to lose an opportunity to make yourself look good. It’s not all about the drinking and talking crazy. If you do play poker for a living, or desperately want to one day, look and act the part 100%. Think about televised events, how you want the world to see you. This is also a chance for strategy, use your “costume” or “mask” and you can control every aspect of another player’s perception.

Refrain from stalling the game

If you only follow one rule, this one could get you by. The speed of poker is sometimes so slow it seems to take forever, or sometimes the hands can fly, drowning all outside thoughts in their wake. Ask yourself, which game would you rather play? Simply put, don’t do anything immediately before it’s your turn to act at the table.

When you’re at the poker table it’s time to play poker.

Just think about how it feels to wait for someone else who is being selfish. Think about and eliminate anything that could cause you to stall the game: your phone, a visitor who’s not seated, your drink, your pocket, your shoe, your drink, even lighting your cigarette. If you make an effort to keep the game going it will be appreciated by the other players.

Wait for it……………‘Slow Roll’

If you don’t know what slow rolling is, it’s when you wait a really long time to show your winning hand. It’s not that funny, people get upset, and it stalls the game. There is a small, very small, exception to this rule. If you have a player who has very poor overall etiquette, or their just drunk, you can use this as a low, passive aggressive tactic. If you pull it off and the other players understand, it might be funny. That being said, this isn’t something you do more than once a night, and honestly it’s just best to never do it.

Keep it to one player per hand

Poker School time is for home games, not for the casino. If someone is new to the game, they can ask the dealer for questions. It’s super rude and a bit sketchy to share any hand information anyway. Discussing the hand in any way at least doubled the decision time, which stalls the game. It’s also super annoying to the other players, as you’re likely to continue to stall, and your bets will probably be tight and dumb. If you want to learn how to play poker, do it at home or online first to avoid being this guy at the table. Also, don’t flash your cards to your buddy or anonymous players, it’s usually against written policies and it’s the distraction equivalent of passing notes in the classroom.

Acting out of turn

Obviously, you have to follow the play of the game, but you shouldn’t display any action before it’s your turn. It’s distracting, impatient, and sometimes blatantly ignorant. A good poker player waits to gather all of the information before making a decision. You can’t do that if you’re stacking up chips for a raise out of turn.

Don’t destroy the cards

It’s easy to understand that it’s rude if you wreck someone’s cards, but there’s more to it than only that. It’s usually a casino house rule in most poker rooms to immediately replace a damaged card. The reasoning is that a damaged card is a now a marked card. If you know what a card is without seeing its face, then you have an unfair advantage. So now, all of the cards are removed. Even with an auto shuffler the practice takes up minutes. If you’re in the mood to play poker, this can be super annoying. Thing of the other players and treat the cards with care.

Don’t hassle the dealer

The dealer is there to be the authority of the game. He or she doesn’t make the rules personally. Most dealers can’t willingly change the outcome of the game without being obvious. If you have a crooked dealer, leave the table. If you get a bad beat, don’t displace your frustration on the dealer.  Don’t throw a tantrum and make the dealer’s life more difficult.  It’s always rude and of poor etiquette to mess with any casino staff.

Don’t fight with the other players

Just like it’s rude to hassle the dealer, it’s also rude to hassle the other players. If you’re a hothead, poker probably isn’t the game for you anyway. Keeping your emotional cool is a trademark of a real pro. Try to keep the golden rule in mind and remember that poker is a social game. Be polite.

Don’t table talk

Table talking is discussing the unknown of an active hand. This isn’t WSOP, and if it happens to be, you’re likely to not be the commentator. It’s not your job to give the play by play, it’s the dealer’s. Don’t speculate about other player’s hands out loud. It’s rude, don’t do it.

Don’t ‘Rabbit Hole’

To ‘Rabbit hole’ is to ask what the next card from the deck would have been. Some sites or casinos will give you a rabbit hole under certain circumstances. Other than that, don’t ask the dealer to show you what could have been. Nobody cares except for you, and it only delays the game.

Don’t over celebrate

Same with having a temper as the result of a loss is not attractive to the other players at the table, so is over celebrating. Nobody wants to see the guy who just took your money put on a show about it. Instead of showing off, show some class and don’t do an end zone dance every time you take down a pot. Unless you’re at the final table in a large televised tournament, it doesn’t make sense to stand up and high-five spectators when winning a pot. Controlling your emotions applies to both positive and negative expressions.

Personal hygiene

I feel like I really shouldn’t have to mention this one, but time and time again I’m forced to smell funk at the poker table. When you’re playing poker at a table, everyone sits pretty close together. Usually it’s elbow to elbow and it’s for long hours. If you smell, people around the table will suffer. I make it a practice to have a shower before each session, not only does it keep me smelling nice, but it helps me wake up my mind for optimal gaming performance.

Don’t ‘Misrepresent’

No one will think you’re cool if you perform obvious misrepresentations of your hands. This is similar to the slow roll; you don’t want to be rude, or delay the game messing with other players.

Stack your chips right

Stack your chips so others can see what you’re working with at the table, its courtesy. And for you noisy chip shufflers out there, stop it, it’s not cool anymore.

Don’t text, talk, or play on your mobile phone

Trust me; you’re losing the opinions of the other players at the table more than you’ll ever gain from doing this. It’s usually a casino house rule to not be on a cellphone while at the table. If you didn’t know why, it’s because it’s very rude.

Online Table Etiquette

Most of the rules of poker etiquette carry over from in house poker to the online arena. There are few points that don’t make sense in online play. For example, you don’t need to worry about taking a shower if you’re just going to sit in front of a computer. You can also yell, drink, and do whatever you want without the other players online really knowing about it.

The chat is where you need to focus on your etiquette. Many times it’s best to simply not chat at all, because if you can’t say anything nice…

If you must be a chatty Cathy, NEVER criticize bad play in chat. You’re not only being rude, you’re giving away free poker advice. If a player is truly making dumb decisions, it’s your responsibility to be quiet, wait, take their money, and then leave the table. Don’t reverse rabbit hole in chat, table talking about what will fall next. Many sites disable the chat during hands which players are all in to prevent this form of rudeness and game distraction.

Summary

The choice is ultimately ours; we can be rude whatever percentage of the time we want to, and for whatever reason we elect. I don’t think that being rude is the same thing as getting in another player’s head for strategy.  At the end of the day, being rude is just plain selfish.

You can go to your next game armed with this knowledge; confident you’ll be perceived as a true poker professional. You’re going to do the right thing because you’re not a selfish jerk, and besides, it’s always profitable to be polite.

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