Poker is a game of many rules but you won’t find all of them written in a book. Some can only be learned through regular interaction with the game. While these rules may be unspoken, it doesn’t make them any less important. Want to avoid making an embarrassing poker faux pas? Read on!
Don’t Angle Shoot
What’s angle shooting you say? In short, it’s one of the lowest moves you can make as a poker player. More specifically, it’s an intentional move to take advantage of less skilled or focused players. The list of how to angle shoot is a long one. It can take many forms such as peeking at a rival's cards, slow rolling or acting out of turn - to name a few. We discuss many of these practices and why they’re wrong below. Some can be downright unethical while others are just plain irritating. One thing is for sure, if you partake in angle shooting, you won’t often find yourself invited back for another game.
Don’t Slow Roll
Slow rolling is considered one of the worst forms of poker etiquette, so avoid it at all costs. Slow rolling happens when a player intentionally holds back their cards at showdown, making it seem like they have a lesser hand than they do. To be clear, if a player does this during a hand, it’s simply bluffing. It’s only considered slow rolling when it happens at the end of a game when it’s time to reveal cards promptly. While this isn’t an official rule, it’s just considered bad manners to allow someone to think they’ve won just to pull the carpet out from under them.
Don’t Act Out of Turn
Acting out of turn is the mark of an inexperienced or inconsiderate player. Inexperienced players can act out of turn, simply by accident. They’re unfamiliar with the structure of the game and unaware that it’s poor etiquette to make a move or affect another player’s actions when it’s not their turn in the game. Understandably, poker is a complex game and some may find it difficult to grasp the structure. Even so, this is one area we’d recommend players perfect quite quickly if they want to stay in the game.
Inconsiderate players are those who are acting out of turn in order to throw off fellow players. While this is considerably more frustrating than a newbie simply making a mistake, the result is the same - a lot of angry players at the table!
Don’t Lose Focus
Of course, you can avoid acting out of turn by sticking to our next rule - don’t lose focus. Poker is a mentally challenging game and if you lack the focus to keep up with it, you won’t get far. Pay attention to what’s happening, both with the dealer and the other players. This will not only allow you to make more informed decisions on your behalf but it’ll also avoid unnecessary delays when it comes to your turn to act. Other players shouldn’t have to catch you up on what’s happened in the hand thus far or nudge you to act because you’re not paying attention.
Don’t Be a Distraction When Sitting Out
Ok, so you’ve folded and you’re out of the hand - what do you do now? There are lots of things you can do to help your game even when you’re out of the hand. You can pay attention to other players, attempting to distinguish others’ tells and playing styles. You could also use this as an opportunity for a brief recharge of your batteries by grabbing some refreshments or using the bathroom.
What you should never do when sitting out is cause a distraction to the players still in the hand. This can include talking loudly about your hand, what you think other players are holding or anything else related to the current game. Not only is this highly irritating for other players but you could affect the outcome of the game by giving away information that they shouldn’t know.
Don’t Hit & Run
Who doesn’t dream of leaving a poker game victorious, pockets brimming with cash? It’s natural! However, most regular players will typically frown upon those who win big in a hand (especially an early hand) and simply leave the table. This specifically applies to cash games where this behaviour is possible. Again, there is no explicit rule in poker that says you can’t do this…but it won’t win you friends.
So, why is this considered a poker faux pas? For regular recreational poker players, the enjoyment just doesn’t come from winning the pot but from the love of playing the game itself. When someone leaves with the pot, it considerably shortens the lifespan of the game they came to play. Of course, there are instances where it may be necessary for a player to leave the game early for personal reasons. Other players have to be understanding of that. However, we’d advise that you don’t make a habit out of hit and runs!
Respect the Dealer
Respect is paramount in a poker game - not just for your fellow players but for the dealer also! Only amateurs blame or lash out at the dealer when they’re dealt a dud hand. As players, we place an immense trust that the dealer is an honest one and therefore, not affecting the result of the game in any way.
What’s more, if you do take your frustrations out on the dealer, you’re the only one who’ll pay the price. Casinos and poker rooms take quick action against those who interfere with dealers carrying out their duties. If you notice a mistake being made then by all means let them know but keep a cool head. Otherwise, you might find yourself being escorted out the door with nothing more than your temper to keep you warm.