Understanding Poker Player Etiquette

Poker is not only a game of chance but a "numbers game" in more ways than one: the longer you play the better chances you have of winning. When you play, you want to win more than you lose and walk away with more money than you showed up with. But poker is also about treating your fellow players -- that would be the other players with money – with respect and a fair amount of dignity, especially those players with less experience than you.

Understanding poker playing etiquette will not only endear you to your fellow players but just might impact your winnings. Treating your fellow players like you would like to be treated will never go out of style. In no particular order – keep in mind the following. And don't be surprised if these rules resemble a few things your mother taught you as a child

Don't Cheat

Back in the "old days" cheating at poker could get you arrested, shot or kicked out of town. Come to think of it, the same thing still happens today, which just goes to show you that cheating at poker – whether cheating the house or cheating fellow players will never be tolerated. And that's why when understanding poker playing etiquette "don't cheat" tops the list.

Be Nice

Equally important to being a good winner is knowing how to be a good loser and both categories fall under understanding poker player etiquette. Humiliating fellow players when you win -- or worse -- whining and stamping your feet when you lose sure clears out a table in a hurry. Another time-tested rule in understanding poker-playing etiquette is to treat the dealer with respect. He is a neutral party whether you win or lose but certainly if you lose and take it out on the dealer – cursing at him or tossing your cards in his face – you probably won’t be welcomed back to the table.

Everybody take turns

You're just dying to raise the stakes or maybe you can't fold fast enough. Wait your turn! Hemming and hawing gives away valuable body language and information about the hand you're playing. So relax. Think nice thoughts, breathe deeply and wait until the action comes to your way.

Rhythm is everything

Whether it's a house, a new car or a hand of poker, any time money is involved you want to think it over. But don't get carried away. If you multiply the time you take to place your bet by everyone else at the table it might make for one dull game – especially if everyone is treating a bet like they are saying goodbye to a long-lost friend. Either make the bet, pass or fold. Pretty simple.

Don't flash your cards

One of the hard and fast rules of poker is that when you decide to show your cards, you show them to everybody, not just one player. Anything less can create an advantage for another player. It might also confuse the dealer who may think you just folded. Good rule of thumb: your cards should only be visible to you while you are playing.

Be organized

Think of how impressive you'll look if you keep your chips in nice, neat stacks. That means the chips with the highest value sit up front while the lower-value chips take a back seat. Only rank amateurs try to hide their hips or worse – try to hide their cards behind their stacks of chips. Other player's chips are off-limits. Chips are money, so why would you want to touch someone else's money or have someone touch yours.

A few words on profanity

Don't!. Poker isn't called the "gentleman's game" for nothing. Profanity doesn't improve your game; it just takes away from it and makes fellow players uncomfortable. Just like excessive talking, there's no place at a poker table for cursing.

There are certainly other "rules" to add to the list of understanding poker playing etiquette. The bottom line is that there's no substitute for skill and certainly no substitute for image and reputation. How you act while you play will stick in people's minds a lot longer than how well you played, and will most definitely be remembered long after you collect your winnings.

This will be a factor in whether you make any friends at a poker table, as more of ten than not, some of the poker buddies you make can give you many important tips on poker. However, if you are going to be an impolite and disrespectful player, no one will want to talk to you and may even avoid your table at future games.

If you think of it – most of these rules really were taught to you as a child and are just as valid today as when you were in kindergarten.

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