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Poker Online Etiquette

In a game that has a reputation for being associated with drinking, smoking, lying (as in “bluffing”), and swearing -- not to mention, of course, gambling -- it might be difficult to believe that there are actual mores and ethics that each player is expected to follow, but it’s true. Poker, like any other social activity, requires that everyone involved abide by the same basic tenets of courtesy and order. Here are some of the most common. When you’re sitting at the poker table, it’s considered rude and improper to offer advice to another player with their hand. At all costs, you should refrain from making suggestions, comments, opinions, etc. on what’s happening in a hand, especially one you’ve already folded out of.

Likewise you should also refrain from requesting aid on a hand from another player at the table, whether they’ve already folded their cards or not. In live play, you can also extend this advice to dealers and onlookers. Don’t give anyone an unfair advantage, and don’t seek out an unfair advantage for yourself. Oftentimes, once the cards have been dealt, you’ll know immediately the action you plan to take (for example, if you get 2 Aces, you’re probably staying in, to say the least, whereas if you get 2-7 unsuited, you’re probably going to fold, unless of course you plan to bluff). Whatever the situation, it’s imperative that you wait your turn before taking any action.

Folding, checking, calling, or raising out of turn reveals too much information to the other players at the table, and in an awfully unfair manner at that. The players who’ve already acted before you’ve made your premature move lose out on using that extra tidbit of knowledge in deciding how they’re going to act, whereas the players who get to act after you’ve made your fumble now get the benefit of basing their decision on that valuable insight. Acting out of turn is more than just clumsy -- it’s downright unfair, and will quickly turn you into a pariah at the poker table faster than you can say “All In”. Fortunately, most online poker rooms now utilize software that prevents premature actions from being instituted, even if you “preset” your next action prior to your actual turn. For your own benefit, however, we don’t recommend availing the poker room of this seemingly convenient function as you’ll often cheat yourself of learning all the information you possibly can about the other players in that hand before deciding how to act yourself. Another poorly thought-out behavior that’s frowned upon at the poker table is revealing the cards in your hand to one (or some) player(s) without revealing them to all. Whether you’ve already folded out of the hand and want to show your buddy why or you’ve won a huge pot on a total bluff and want to rub the reality of the situation in your losing opponent’s face, you’ve either got to show those cards to everyone at the table, or no one at all. Anything in between will find you sitting at the poker table all by your lonesome (if not ejected from the online poker room altogether). Poker etiquette also involves treating the people who serve you right. Granted, this is more applicable in live games than in online games, but it’s relevant to online play nonetheless.

Whether you’re playing in a Live Dealer game or not, abusing the dealer for the cards you’ve been dealt screams “Sore Loser”. If you suspect foul play, sure, report it to the poker room, but don’t turn into the little poker player who cried “Wolf” either. An honest dealer has no control over what cards are dealt, and most of the dealers you’ll come across are honest. Whether it’s a human being or a random number generator, the dealer is just doing his/her/its job. Think about it -- what reason do they have to cheat you rather than the other players at the table? They don’t care who wins or loses. Don’t blame them for your losing streak. Don’t cry foul play every time you get a lousy pitch. Lastly, and this goes along with the previous advice, watch your mouth -- or in the realm of online poker, watch your attitude. The chat feature is a convenient and fun way to make online poker more personable, but it’s not intended to be used for braggadocio, picking fights, bullying weaker players, talking “smack” about other players, or any other form of monologue or dialogue that detracts from the actual game at hand. It’s called “coffeehousing” -- discussing the hand that’s currently being played.

When it’s used for friendly banter, it’s usually forgiven. When it’s used for bluffing, it’s considered sly at worst, masterful at best. But anything more than that is irritating, annoying, and out of line. Abusing the chat feature in an online poker game is definitely adequate reason enough for being ejected from the game. It’s just another fantastic reason to control your emotions at the poker table which, in the long run, will only make you a better and more successful player overall.


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