Unwritten Rules of Poker
THE WEEKLY SHUFFLE, 2013-07-07, by OzoneAs is the case in most competitive sub-cultures, poker has its fair share of unwritten rules or codes for players to live by. Sometimes these unwritten rules carry more weight than rules on paper. Violate a rule on paper and you could get a one orbit penalty. Violate one of poker's coveted codes of the game and an entire community of players could turn their back on you.
Here are some of the obvious and not so obvious unwritten rules of poker:
Show your winning hand immediately
In poker, it is considered poor form to "slow-roll" an opponent by waiting to turn over the winning hand. This is viewed as unnecessary salt in the wound of an opponent who already has to deal with having lost the hand. When you know you hold the winning cards at showdown, there should be no hesitation about showing them in order to collect the pot.
It is not technically against a player's right to take thirty seconds or a minute on each and every decision at the table. However, this laborious form of play will not earn you many friends. Poker is a social game and as such there are social conventions to follow at the table. One of them is being aware that others do not wish to wait an unnecessarily long while for you to complete action on a routine basis.
Don't give away information to opponents
Poker is a game of incomplete information. Those who parse the nuances of the game most adeptly come out ahead in the long run. An unwritten rule of poker is to not help your opponents piece together information about their opponents, especially during a hand. Moreover, informing a player new to your table about the tendencies of others at the table is considered out of line. Let them figure it out for themselves.
Don't berate opponents
One of the best quips in poker is "don't tap the glass". This means when a fishy player makes a poor play, don't berate them for it or point out the error in their play. Players have a right to make decisions as they see fit and should be exempt from having their judgements questioned by others at the table during gameplay.
Treat dealers as people
Some in the poker community feel it is unnecessary to extend kindness and consideration to poker dealers. Dealers are sometimes used as an outlet on which a player will vent their frustrations. It shouldn't need to be clarified that this is dreadful behavior. Moreover, be aware that in many cardrooms, particularly those in the United States, dealers are reliant on tips from players in order to make a living. When you win a nice pot, it is customary to throw a couple of dollars to the dealer.
Don't hit and run
It goes against the sportsmanship of poker to sit down at a table and leave immediately upon accruing some sort of a profit. If your intentions when sitting down at the table are to exit the game as soon as any form of winnings have been secured, you should realize that you're an unlikable character to the others in the game. There is an unwritten policy of sticking around for a reasonable length of time in order to allow your opponents the perception of having a chance to get their losses back from you before you should be heading for the exit.
Don't talk to or distract other players during a hand
Players involved in a hand should be viewed as off-limits for conversation. If you were having a conversation with a player who suddenly becomes involved in a hand politely quiet down or indicate that the conversation can continue when they finish the hand.
Leave drinks and ashtrays off the table
Care should be taken to avoid potentially creating any type of a mess on the felt which could compromise the integrity of the playing cards.
Practice good hygiene
You owe it to the others in your poker game to shower and apply deodorant on at least a daily basis. Practice at least a bare minimum of consideration for others with regards to personal hygiene when playing poker.
The Weekly Shuffle is our Sunday column with our observations and commentary on the poker world. Have an idea for an article? Leave a suggestion on the feedback page.
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