Top 5 Live Poker Etiquette Mistakes

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20 August 2008, Created By: Sean Lind
If you've never played live poker before, you probably aren't familiar with all the nuances and quirks in the book of poker etiquette.

As a rookie at the tables, you're inevitably going to make a few missteps before you understand the lay of the land in a poker room. Not a big deal.

And although there are a lot of faux pas you can make, only a few are really viewed as being big etiquette breaches.

These should be pretty obvious. And, in theory, you should be able to avoid them just out of common sense.

That being said, though, common sense can be a scarce commodity in a poker room, so here's a list of the Top 5 biggest blunders players make at the table.

If you'd like to become even more well-versed in poker etiquette, check out an in-depth article here.

Nikolay Evdakov
Nobody likes a staller.

5) Stalling. It's true that poker is a social event, and many people are just playing to have a good time.

But in today's post-online poker world, the rate of hands being dealt at a live table is marginally bearable at the best of times. The last thing the table wants is for one player to slow the game any further.

I've seen players, with the action waiting on them, get engrossed in receiving their food order, chatting, paying, flirting, asking questions ... all of these things would be just fine if we didn't have to sit and watch you do it.

Play your hand first; get rejected by the waitress second.

4) Not Showering. Ladies and gentlemen, for the love of whatever you find holy, take a shower at least some point in the 24 hours before you step into a poker room.

I am constantly being seated next to people with a personal bouquet strong enough to make your eyes water. I understand that you're playing cards rather than going on a date, but that doesn't mean you're allowed to smell like a Fremen's stillsuit.

You want to keep fish on your table; making them run away in disgust is a poor tactic for accomplishing this.

3) Asking to See Mucked Hands. What a player does with their own money, or cards, is up to them. Any player can play any hand any way they like (as long as it's within the house rules).

If after losing a pot a player chooses to muck his hand, not showing anyone the losing hand, it's up to them.

Mickey Appleman
For some, disheveled is just a look. For others, more of a lifestyle.

Even though there are rules in place that will allow any player on the table to request to see a called hand on the river, it is very, very, very poor etiquette to do so. The rule is there to safeguard against players cheating by collaborating.

That means that if you invoke it, you'll be seen to be questioning the integrity of the other player. So don't use it as a method to gain information on the hands of your opponents.

2) Misrepresenting Your Hand or Action. One of the biggest faux pas you can make is to misrepresent your hand or action. When I say misrepresent your hand, I'm talking about saying you have a strong hand after all action is complete, when you actually have a weak hand.

The opposite of a slow roll, misrepresenting your hand can cause your opponents to prematurely fold the best hand, thinking you have them beat. This is against the rules in most poker rooms, but qualifies as an etiquette breach as well.

Misrepresenting your action is another frowned-upon maneuver. Players who tailor their actions or words to convince their opponent that they intend a certain play, when in fact they don't, are going to find themselves persona non grata at the felt.

Puggy Pearson used to be notorious for sliding a stack of chips across the line inside his fist without letting go so that his opponent, thinking he was just called, would turn over his hand.

At that point, if Puggy was beat, he'd pull back his chips, saying that he never intended to make the call in the first place.

Men 'The Master' 
Nguyen
Seriously: don't slow roll. People hate that.

I've seen fights break out in poker rooms when players say or do things that appear to be a check. When they see what action their opponent makes, they claim that they never checked, and try to act anew with the information they now have. Not recommended.

1) Slow-Rolling. First off, don't get this confused with slow-playing. Slow-playing, or sandbagging, a hand is just fine. Sure, people get upset when they lose to a slow-played monster, but that's their deal.

Slow-rolling is very different. If you say or do anything that purposely makes another player believe that they've won the hand, when you know you have the best hand, you are slow-rolling.

This maneuver is hands down the greatest breach of poker etiquette you can make. People have been shot over such actions, and I can't say I blame the shooter all that much.

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NickB 2013-12-14 03:57:30

I'm with midnightzak, if you've called a hand you've effectively paid to see the cards, therefore it's up to the person you called to prove they have the best hand (or not).... I don't see any issue in seeing cards you've paid to see...

Ali 2008-12-04 19:23:00

Slow Rolling is the worst. I've lost a 300 $ pot because the other player said he had a straight. I mucked, he showed A high and took the pot.

Sean Lind 2008-12-02 18:17:00

Midnightzak: I completely understand why you would want to ask to see the cards, I even empathize with you.

Poker had run for hundreds of years before casino's started to take it over as a legit game, away from the dank backrooms. Once you have a dealer controlling the deck, most of the cheating that was possible is no longer an option. This is when the rule to ask to see a hand was instituted exclusively to allow players to eliminate one of the few forms of cheating still available to the players, collusion.

You never could ask to see a hand, and you ONLY can now because of this rule. You ask to see a hand if you think someone is cheating, that's why the rule is there. If you don't want to believe me, that's up to you, but if you ever get into a high stakes game with serious players, you'll regret asking.

In fact, there's an episode of High Stakes Poker on GSN where one player asks to see a hand, and all the other players chew him out for it. It's disrespectful, and not supposed to be part of the game. I'm not making this up, and you're free to do what you like, just don't say you haven't been warned.

Midnightzak 2008-11-30 16:45:00

#3 is just plain stupid explanation.

This isn't a bad thing, you are LEARNING about your opponent. I don't know anyone that felt like their integrity was being compromised when you ask to see their cards after calling and seeing that they have lost.

This will allow you to see how he was betting, why he bet the way he did, or if was just a total bluff the whole time. If you don't ask to see these cards then you are giving away information that could allow you to win a later hand.

Sean Lind 2008-09-23 18:26:00

jyizzle: I sort of agree. First off it's not an etiquette issue as much as a strategy mistake. In a tourney, life are chips. Your own life is more important than the collective state of all remaining competitors.

A dry side pot should NEVER be bluffed, but if you have a hand vulnerable to a draw, it's in your best interest to bet it, this is true regardless of a dry or wet side pot.

There are some scenario's where I feel one should check it down, most notably on the bubble. In this situation you benefit most by maybe sacrificing that pot for the good of the tourney.

jyizzle 2008-09-23 05:55:00

What about players who refuse to check down an all-in pot? They fire away with nothing and inevitably the all-in short-stack wins the hand, which you would have beaten him with had this moron not fired away with nothing. This move is justifiable if there's a sidepot, but if not...MOST ANNOYING POKER MOVE POSSIBLE

Sean Lind 2008-09-04 18:05:00

I couldn't agree more about treating the dealers with respect. They're doing their job, and they have no control over if you win or lose. It bugs me when people get mad at a dealer.

If the dealer is acting out of line, or making mistakes, get up and talk to the floorman off of the table. It's their job to deal with an out of line dealer.

jason 2008-09-04 13:11:00

Maybe not in all players books a big etiquette breach,
Although I strongly believe it should be, is Dont abuse, throw cards at, or question the parentage of the Dealers!!
These people are paid to ensure an honestly run game, and it really isn't their fault when someone makes that river suckout against you.

Oh yeah, splashing the pot (flinging your chips into the middle of the pot) is guaranteed to upset people too.

momoney2 2008-09-02 18:41:00

You missed some BIG ones that drive all of us live players crazy.
1) players talking about mucked cards while the hand is still in play; i.e. "I would have had 2-pair, a flush, the nuts, etc..."
2) players acting out of turn; i.e. folding their hand before it is their turn to act; announcing raise or call before others in front of them have acted; etc...
3) players discussing other players potential holdings either while not involved in the hand, or while there are multiple players in the hand. This may cause an unaware opponent to become aware of a hand that he otherswise would have missed.

Sean Lind 2008-08-26 17:25:00

#2 Misrepresenting Your hand or action:
Another example of this is at the showdown, where a player will say "I got the nuts" and either show rags, or show nothing. I'm not sure if they think it's cute, funny or are hoping the opponent mucks their hand. Either way it's looked down upon.

Another example is one I see every so often, where a player will make a motion that looks a lot like a check, when the other player acts they get up in arms claiming they never actually checked. It's much easier to make a play if you know what your opponent was going to do.

#1 Slow Rolling
A common slow roll is a player holding a monster, such as the nut straight, or a set saying "Any pair's good". When the opponent turns over top pair, and is about to accept the pot, then they show the monster.

Another example is a player holding a set at showdown just turns over one card, showing a middle pair, acting like the other card is meaningless, until the other player shows a higher pair.

A third example is in rounders in a hand between Worm and Maurice. Worm tells Maurice that he has a pair of jacks, maurice shows a pair of aces, then worm says:
"But I got sevens, too, though. With my jacks"

... "But you made me for the sevens, Maurice. You're a player."

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