Thoughts from the Felt: "I'm Sorry"

Published On: 13 May 2009 / Modified: 29 June 2018
Created By: Sean Lind
J-Mad busts Matt Stout

With all the ego and trash talking between the degenerates at every poker table, it may seem odd to get upset over the phrase "I'm sorry."

Like any competitive sport or activity, poker is a game of respect. You can be a lot of things at a poker table, and how you act and play is entirely up to you.

But at the end of the day you need to have respect for the rules, other players and the house for the game to function.

To an outside observer, poker may seem like a rogue game full of social miscreants. Players are bluffing, goading, needling, angling and juicing the other players, all in an effort to take as much money from everyone else on the table as possible.

In reality, all of these actions are fair game and considered part of poker. Remarkably, the vast majority of players are able to partake in some or all of these activities without having, or showing, any disrespect for the game or its players.

Although it may be very fine, there is a line between acceptable actions and outright disrespect. For example:


"Be careful, this could be an expensive choice you're about to make" = Angling

"Come on fish, donk off another stack on your draw" = Jerk


"Put that straddle in there! Let's get some action on this table" = Juicing

"Yeah, as if anyone's going to give you action, you're even too much a nit to put in a straddle" = Douche


Attack the Game, Not the Players

What it comes down to: you can attack the game, but not the players.

It's one thing to call the game action-less, but it's another to blame that lack of action on a specific player. Luckily, the majority of poker players in the world understand these concepts.

The vast majority of poker players are there to have a good time. The last thing they want to do is insult or upset the other players.

Even the players who like to juice and angle are typically doing it with respect for the other players on the table.

Phil Hellmuth
Not nice, not sorry.

The problem I have is with the simple phrase "I'm sorry."

Most of the people saying it are legitimately trying to be nice. They don't mean any disrespect at all. In the likeness of Larry David, I find this rather ignorant.

You came to the poker table with the intention of winning money. You entered into the pot against me hoping to win my money. When it went all in, and you found out that you had two outs to win the pot, you were begging, screaming, praying and willing for your card to hit the river.

When you card does come, and you do win, you're utterly relieved and exuberant. The very last thing in the world that you are at that moment is sorry.

The day I see someone refuse to take the pot and give it to the player who got sucked out on, that's the day I'll believe that they are legitimately sorry.

It's ok to suck out, that's part of poker. I've done it, and I promise I will do it again. I can promise that it will happen against you.

If you're going to play poker, it's impossible not to be involved in suck outs. Even one-outers are going to show up in your game.

You're not going to be sorry for hitting them; in fact you're going to be grateful. When you say "I'm sorry," all you're doing is lying to the person you just beat.

Now not only are they losing the pot, and maybe their stack, they have you lying to them at the same time.

It's not your job to make the loser of the pot feel better. If you really can't help but be a nice guy, just say "nice hand." You don't need to say "I got lucky."

Trust me, they already know exactly how lucky you got.

So next time you hit your miracle card on the river, just remember to be grateful, not apologetic. Thank the dealer if you like (they always appreciate the tips) and move on to the next hand: simple as that.



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