Just like proper dining etiquette, good manners at the poker table are an important test of character. Knowing how to play poker isn’t just about the cards you’re holding or your ability to rank different poker hands. There are a few more things you’re expected to know before you sit at the table.
Poker etiquette is what separates a good player from a good player that other people like. A player who gains a reputation for having a bad attitude at tournaments will stop receiving invitations at some point. So, here are some important things to remember about proper behavior at the poker table.
Don’t Slow the Game Down
Yes, poker is a game of long, deep stares, bluffs, double bluffs, and sometimes even complicated tactics. That doesn’t mean a round should last for ages. Slowing down the game in any way, either by deliberately playing slow, getting distracted by your phone, or thinking for too long at every turn, will come off as disrespectful.
Of course, you should take your time with big decisions at critical moments. But keep other players in mind, and they’ll be grateful for your consideration. Poker is meant to be a fast game, and increasing the pace will ultimately improve your chances of making money.
Be Polite But Not Annoying
When you sit down at a poker table, whether at a casino, at your friend’s place, or even at a tournament, most players appreciate a bit of table chit-chat. This is especially true if you’re playing in a more friendly environment.
But don’t distract players from the actual game or try to undermine their focus. Also, don’t be rude to dealers. If you play a lot of poker and make regular appearances at tournaments, there’s a good chance you’ll be playing alongside the same people, and you don’t want to end up with a bad reputation.
Don’t Eat and Play
Grabbing nachos and other finger food at a casino isn’t a bad idea in between games. However, you should never eat at the poker table, especially while you’re playing. Not only is this considered rude, but touching chips and cards with greasy hands can quickly get you kicked off the table.
Avoid Doing “Hit and Runs”
You’ve probably had a few encounters with players who join the game for a round or two, win, and then immediately leave the table. This is called a “hit and run” tactic. While nothing really obliges you to sit at a table for longer than you wish, it’s a common courtesy among poker players to keep playing for at least one more round after winning big.
Keep Emotions in Check
There is nothing wrong with getting excited and celebrating your big wins in poker. Just don’t overdo it. Remember that there are other people at the table, and you shouldn’t make other players feel miserable about losing. Hollywood blockbusters like Casino Royale often include arrogant characters, but in reality, nobody likes playing with those kinds of players. The same goes for players who tend to get enraged about losing, those who shout a lot, or anyone who can’t handle the ups and downs of poker. The bottom line is that losing your cool makes you look like a rookie.
Don’t Throw Chips Around
Speaking of rookie mistakes, tossing chips onto the green felt isn’t a desirable trait. Also, players fumbling with their chips and waiting to be told it’s their turn might look cool in the movies, but it’s frowned upon at the real tables. When betting, just move your stack slightly towards the center instead of “splashing the pot”. The dealer can tell what your stack consists of. It’ll also make it easier to check bets, and you won’t annoy other players.
Don’t Slow Roll
Another rule poker players know by heart is no slow rolling. You’ve probably seen plenty of slow-rolling on television. It’s when a player acts like they have a weak hand and slowly reveals the strongest hand at the table. This may be fun once or twice when playing with friends, but under no circumstances should you do this at tournaments.
Finally, remember to just have fun playing poker. Even though it’s a casino game and you’re in it to try and win some money, it’s still a game. You win some, you lose some, but if you get up from that table knowing you had a good time, you’ll always feel like a winner.