Top 10 Poker Etiquette Rules

It's not enough to be a successful poker player, to win a lot of money, to know all the good strategies or to have the best luck in the world – a good poker player must act like a professional poker player.

Being a professional poker player means knowing poker etiquette – how to handle yourself in the game, at the table, with other players and with the dealer. If you're a little short on poker etiquette then the good scenario might be that you won't be very popular at the poker table. The bad scenario might be that you will get thrown out of tables and casinos.

To avoid these uncomfortable and unnecessary situations, all you have to do is behave. But behave how?

Be polite

Nothing is more important than being nice to people, even if these people are poker players who have been winning your money all night long. Losing is never fun and it can be very frustrating at times, but if you use profanity or obscene language and get dragged into verbal battles with your opponents, you will not only be distracted and play accordingly but other players will remember this behavior for a very long time.

Showing your frustration in this manner will also target you as a player who's having a bad night. This will result in you having an even worse night.

Being nice to the people around you is not limited to the players. The dealers already have a pretty tough job, dealing with all sorts of characters and listening to quite a lot of whining, ranting and complaining while they're keeping the game going. Don't blame the dealer for the big pot you just lost, or for your bad run. Don't throw your cards at him or not tip him to punish him for your bad run.

Don't cheat

Cheating the house at poker is a very hard thing to do (and not to mention, a stupid thing to do). You are playing against other players and not against the house, like in other casino games such as roulette or blackjack.

Cheating players might be easier but the ramifications are quite the same. Here are a few things you can do that will get you kicked out of a casino or poker game (or face a worse punishment if the Mafia or other shady operations are involved:

You could reach over and steal a couple of chips from another player's stack or you could short the pot if the dealer or other players are not paying attention. 

If you refuse to give back a pot that the dealer pushed towards you by mistake, even though you know are not entitled to it. 

Colluding with a partner with the intent on cheating players will also get you both kicked out.

Play at a reasonable speed

No doubt you will face big decision that require a lot of thought and consideration but don't make every bet last too long. Long rounds make the game less enjoyable for everyone and might even cause people to leave the table.

Put your blinds on the table promptly and don't make players remind you every time.

For your eyes only

Your cards should be visible only to you during a hand. Showing your cards to players might not be against the rules, but it is highly unaccepted. This can give one player an advantage over the other players and perhaps ruin a pot for a player.

If you do decide to show your cards, you must show them to all of the players at the table and not just to one player.

In any case, make sure that your cards are in front of you and visible to all of the players. This is important to avoid players acting out of turn because they think you folded and also to assure them that you are not cheating.

Don’t splash the pot or string bet

Don’t rudely throw your chips into the pot. Players will have a hard time seeing what your bet was

Some players use this to get a response from the players. Avoid this by deciding on the amount of chips you want to bet and placing them in nice stacks and in one action. Don't make the players think you're betting more than you're actually betting.

Only play on your turn

Don't act when it is somebody else's turn to act. Wait until the action comes to you to make that raise that you're just dying to make or fold your hand. By acting out of your turn you give valuable information to other players before it is they're turn to act.

Be organized

Don't make a mess of your chips. Organize them in neat stacks and put the high value chips in the front so that everyone can see it and nobody has to guess how much you have.

Don't touch chips that don't belong to you or transfer chips or money to other players.

When you stack up your chips make sure that they don't block the view of cards.

Make sure that no one can see your cards and if you can see a player's cards it's OK to say something about it.

Stay focused on the game

Don't use your cell phone at the table. No explanation necessary.

While talking to players during a hand for strategic reasons is allowed (at least in North America), don't over do it.

If you eat or drink at the table (please avoid greasy foods) don't make it the center of your attention.

Be a courteous loser

Don't treat every loss as a tragedy. This probably isn't the first time you lost and sadly, this probably won't be the last bad game you'll have. Remember that losing is part of the game.

No amount of whining or cursing can bring your money back, but your dignity and honor among the other players is much more valuable than that. If you've lost and you are out of the game, you can wish good luck to your opponents, without sarcasm, and leave. Good poker players also know how to loose, not just how to win.

Be a gracious winner

Winning is an emotional experience, especially when large sums of money are involved.

Remember that in the game of poker you can be up or down in a matter of minutes, all you need is one very good or very bad hand.

Sometimes it will be hard for you to control the urge to express your excitement but you must be a gracious winner and not make a big thing about your victory or your opponent's loss.

If you called and your opponent has a hand that you know you have beaten and that you are the one who will walk away with the pot, don't drag it out – show your cards all at once and avoid humiliating your opponent.

A good player is not only a player who wins a lot; it also has to do with the way he wins.

Do's and don'ts of online poker:

  • Don't open more than one account per online poker room. Trying to get more bonuses out of the poker room using several accounts will only get you kicked out.
  • Don't abuse the chat option by advertising yourself and your business, trying to influence players, use abusive language or hurry your opponents to act.
  • Don't partner up with other players to gain some advantage. Avoid speaking other languages if it is an English speaking poker room. This can lead to suspicions of collusion.
  • Do act only on your turn and do so as quickly as you can.
  • Do be patient and polite with your opponents. Just follow the golden rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you".