Although poker has been with us for decades, proper etiquette is under assault on all fronts. With the creative editing of WSOP and WPT events, many negative behaviors are becoming glamorized. Some of this is simply irritating, like Hollywooding or playing out of turn. Unfortunately, younger players are getting a bad rap as those most likely to shout excitedly, curse like a sailor, or devolve into similarly abusive behavior. We’ll first explore what’s proper and what’s not in live poker.
First, let’s examine some of the basic principles of live poker etiquette. One player to a hand is a fundamental in poker. Overt coaching or discussion of an active hand is forbidden. More often seen by new players is reacting during a hand. You look down at J-3 off suit in middle position, fold to the raise and re-raise to you, three players see the flop of 8-3-3. The seasoned player reacts with no emotion, while the newbie writhes in agony or even whispers “I folded a trey,” to his neighbor. All of this gives information to those in the hand and is unacceptable at all card rooms.
By now you’re probably familiar with the ever common ‘f-bomb’ rule, where speaking said word will land you in the penalty box. Cursing and abusive language will often lead to the floor being called to calm the player down. Poker can be an emotionally charged game, but work hard to have calm as your default behavior. Just as in any competitive environment, losing control will normally only impact you and your performance.
Splashing the pot can sometimes add flair to a bettor’s game, but this is frowned upon on the felt. When your chips spill into the main pot, it slows the game down as the dealer has to separate your bet from the existing chips. It’s a bad habit, completely unnecessary and slows the game down - don’t do it. A common play for players more experienced in bar or home games is taking down pots by showing only one card. In many card rooms, the official ruling of showing one card and the second card hitting the muck makes the hand a dead hand. Don’t make that mistake.
The core of your behavior at the table: treat others as you want to be treated. You can be chatty, be silent, listen to your iPod, watch the game intently, or watch ESPN between hands. The more courteous you are before, during, and after your play, the more respect you’ll earn. You’ll also find that you’ll give off less information to other players when you stay in control than if you are obnoxious and reckless.