I’m a huge fan of playing poker. Every chance that I get, I’ll do my best to play. Often, I’ll play at local home games in my neighborhood, but I’ll also play online a couple of times a week. Poker is definitely one of my favorite things to do.
Over the past 20 years, I’ve seen lots of fools at the poker table. Some of the fools were clearly new players, but others were well-seasoned poker veterans. I decided that I’d write this blog to help identify some of the top poker etiquette tips that are important based on all of my years of experience. The goal of this post is to help poker players across all experience levels not act like a fool at the poker table.
If you’re new to poker, much of this will be new to you. Take the time to review each one of these etiquette tips, and do your best to apply them all. Luckily, when you’re new, people tend to be a little more forgiving. That being said, you should do your best to follow all of these rules. For those of you that are seasoned poker players, much of this should be etched into your brain by now. However, it’s worth a quick scan just to make sure you’ve got all of these bases covered. Now, let’s jump into it!
Poker Etiquette 101 | Don’t Splash the Pot
Something that will quickly agitate your fellow players and the dealer is the action of splashing the pot. If you end up sloppily tossing your chips onto the table in a manner that causes your chips to mix in with the pot, you’ve just splashed the pot. Due to the fact that splashing the pot makes it a pain to sort out what your bet was versus what was in the pot, it’s best to avoid this like the plague.
It happens to folks by accident from time to time, and that’s ok. Since chips are round, some of them are bound to end up in the pot by accident when you place your wager. However, what you want to avoid is tossing your chips directly into the main pot or aggressively towards the middle of the table so that the vast majority of your bet hits the main pot.
Your best method for making or calling a bet is simply to move your chips directly in front of you. Instead of tossing them in, we suggest sliding them forward to help reduce the chance that they end up splashing the pot by accident. Your dealer and your fellow players will be thankful if you take steps to avoid splashing the pot.
Poker Etiquette 101 | Don’t String Bet
Another thing that you’ll want to avoid at the poker table is the string bet. Often, new players of poker make this type of bet by accident without realizing that it is an issue. A string bet is when a player puts some chips on the table and then reaches back for more without announcing that he is going to raise.
It’s one thing when a new player does it by accident, but unfortunately some players that know better try to use it to their advantage. You’ll want to watch out for players that do this, as it is prohibited. When it happens with new players, try to be understanding and explain to them that it is not allowed.
To help avoid the possibility of string betting, make sure that you always announce the exact amount you plan to bet or that you plan to raise. Once you’ve done one of those two actions, you’re free to reach back to your chips if you need to in order to get more chips. The issue arises when you don’t announce anything, and you end up going back for more chips from your stack after already having moved some out.
Poker Etiquette 101 | Act In Turn
This etiquette tip should make sense to anyone that has played regularly, but it might not be so obvious to new players. When playing poker, it is important that you always act in turn. By that, we mean that you should only act when the action is on you.
Action at a poker table moves clockwise. The person to the left of the dealer button is first to act, and action continues to move left. It’s important that you don’t act out of turn because your action could impact the decision of another player. By acting in turn, you’ll make sure that you don’t mess up someone else.
Here’s an example of why acting in turn matters.
Imagine a game where you accidentally act out of turn and announce that you are all in. Another player that should have acted before was planning to make a raise, but now with this information, he might change his mind. By acting out of turn, you can mess up other players and yourself.
It should be pretty easy to keep track of when it is your turn or not. If you’re new to cards and playing at a friendly home game, you can ask someone else at the table. At a casino, you can look to the dealer for guidance on when it is your turn to act. If you’re ever unsure, it doesn’t hurt to ask. We’d rather you be safe than sorry!
Poker Etiquette 101 | Keep Your Cards on the Table
No matter if you’re playing a home game or at a casino, you’ll always want to keep your cards on the table. If you end up removing your cards from the table, it’s likely to cause some issues with the dealer and your fellow players. When cards are not on the table, the worry is that something funky might be up such as a player mixing in other cards.
It’s not uncommon to see a player pick their cards up to get a better look at them. While this isn’t necessarily an issue, it often gives your neighboring players a chance to get a look at your cards. Ultimately, we’d suggest that you keep them on the table at all times so that you don’t run into any issues.
Poker Etiquette 101 | Don’t Discuss Your Hand During Play
When you’re playing poker, another thing to keep in mind is that you should never discuss your hand during play. No matter if you’ve mucked your cards or not, you should never talk about your cards while the hand is still live on the table. By discussing your hand, it could greatly impact the other players at the table.
Here’s an example to help illustrate how discussing your hand could impact other players at the table. Assume that you muck your hand and shortly after that announce that you just folded an ace and a nine. By accounting this, players holding an ace or a nine in their hand will now know that you had at least one of their outs. Now having this information, that player may not choose to enter the pot when they previously might have.
Poker Etiquette 101 | Act in a Timely Fashion
When playing poker, it is always best to act in a timely fashion. By no means do we mean that you need to rush your decision on every hand. However, you do want to make sure that you’re not taking an extended amount of time on the majority of your hands.
Odds are that you’ve dealt with a player before that must think he’s at the final table of the World Series of Poker. He takes seemingly minutes to decide on every single move, including calling the current blind. It’s super annoying, and the problem is that he’s not playing at the World Series of Poker final table. Instead, he’s at your local casino or home game.
It’s totally ok to need some additional time to make a decision on a hand here and there. Your goal should be not to take a ton of extra time more often than not. If you notice that fellow players are beginning to get a bit annoyed every time that you’re making a decision, that might be a good sign that you’re taking too long to make your decisions.
Poker Etiquette 101 | Don’t Slow Roll Your Hand
One of our top tips for poker etiquette is to never slow roll your hand when you know you have the nuts. Slow rolling is looked down upon in the industry, and you’ll quickly become the villain of the table if you decide to do it. If you’ve ever been on the receiving side of a slow roll, you know just how crappy of a move it is.
If you don’t know what slow rolling is, we’ll get you up to speed. When a player slow rolls his hand, he drags out showing the winning cards when he knows that he has a hand that can’t be beaten (a.k.a. the nuts). While taking his time to show his hand, the person doing the slow rolling leaves the other players in agony.
If you know 100% that you have the nuts, make sure to expose your hand quickly. There is no need for you to slow roll your hand and leave the other players waiting for their fate. Do everyone a solid and just show them up quickly.
Poker Etiquette 101 | Show One, Show All
We’ve all seen this before. After betting everyone else out of the hand, a player will show his hole cards to one or both of his neighbors on either side of him before mucking his cards. If you’re going to show you cards to just one player, you’ll need to show all players at the table. The show one, show all rule is pretty universal in the poker world.
It’s quite rude to show your cards to just one or two players. This practice is rather common at friendly home games where you are usually playing with buddies of yours. However, even at friendly home games, you should still honor the show one, show all mentality to remain fair. If you don’t want to show all, simply show none.
Poker Etiquette 101 | Calling Clock
Something that you’ll want to be cautious about is calling the clock on a fellow player. When you call the clock on a player, they’ll only have a limited amount of time left to make their decision. The goal of calling clock is to help speed up play when a player is taking too long to make their decision. Usually, if the clock is called by a fellow player, the player making the decision will have a minute to decide what they want to do.
As a whole, it’s pretty rare that people call the clock on a fellow player. You’ll really want to chew it over before doing it. We’d only suggest that you consider calling the clock on a player that is taking too long to decide on multiple hands. If it’s just one hand and they are taking some time, we suggest that you let them take the time they need.
Poker Etiquette 101 | Tip Your Dealers
My last tip applies to poker players that play cash games at casinos. In casino cash games, it is typical to tip the dealer after you win a pot. This is something that you’ll want to be aware of if you’re new to cash games at a casino. The typical tip is just $1 or $2 and should depend on the size of the pot that you win. If you just win an average sized pot, feel free to tip $1. However, if your pot is larger, I’d suggest that you consider tipping at least $2. While playing, see what else the other players at your table are doing. When in doubt, mimic their moves relating to tipping the dealer.