Top 5 breaches of poker etiquette
What you shouldn't do at the poker table...
1. The Slow Roll
Let’s start with a simple one: if you see that you have your opponent’s hand beat, let them know by revealing the winner immediately at showdown. Letting your adversaries hang in agony by giving them the impression that they are winning the pot (this is the slow) only to reveal later that nope, they are beat (there’s the roll) is one of the most distasteful things you can do at a poker table.
If anyone understands the sting of a slow roll it’s Sam Abernathy, who shoved all in preflop with pocket sixes at the 2016 APPT Aussie Millions. Mikel Habb had her dominated with pocket kings but decided to put on an elaborate show that even left commentator Jason Somerville rooting against him. Antics like this certainly won’t gain you any friends at the table, and they just might be punishable by some river justice for your opponent.
2. Clock Calling
To ensure that the game runs smoothly and in a timely manner, players are allowed to “call the clock” on their opponents if they haven’t made a decision in a reasonable amount of time. The floorman will then give the player one more minute to act before their hand is declared dead. Any experienced and well-mannered poker player will tell you that this rule should be sparsely used and generally reserved for those who are taking an excessive amount of time or are continuously holding up the game.
Respect your opponents by letting them deliberate a big move. You’ll be glad you did when it’s your turn to make a decision for all your chips.
Plus, as Chris Oliver found out when he prematurely called the clock on Team PokerStars Pro Daniel Negreanu at the PCA, upsetting the poker gods with improper etiquette will often come back to bite you.
3. Angle Shooting
Want to bluff? Great.
Want to pretend to be an amateur when you’ve actually been playing for years? Sure, go right ahead.
Want to act as if you were trying to call when you know it’s a binding raise? Not cool.
While poker is a game of manipulation, and there is a fine line in terms of what is considered suave acting or complete angle shooting, a good rule of thumb is to make all your actions very clear. If you want to feign nervousness or strength while making a legal raise, that’s fair game, but just make sure that the dealer knows what your intentions are to avoid confusion – and avoid gaining a reputation as an angle shooter.
After rivering a full house at the EPT 7 Grand Final in Madrid, Ivan Freitez used the alleged language barrier to shoot an angle so dirty that even the commentators were rooting against him to receive a call. Ouch.
4. Talking Trash
Poker is a social game, and one that requires you to check your ego at the door in order to maintain a peaceful environment. Don’t belittle or needle newcomers, and don’t be a know-it-all. You aren’t there to prove that you are the master of poker – and a true pro would know that making less experienced opponents feel welcome is good for the game.
Save your speeches at the tables. Don’t tell people what they should have done in a hand, and don’t make players feel bad about losing (or winning). Gloating or talking trash after you’ve won a pot is not only disrespectful to the person who just lost, but also a major breach of poker etiquette.
When Shyam Srinivasan couldn’t help himself after raking a pot in the PCA Main Event in 2015, Maurice Hawkins spat it right back at him. Needless to say, no other player at the table seemed amused.
5. General Etiquette
While poker is indeed a game of deception and manipulation, there are some boundaries you don’t want to cross in order to protect both the integrity of the game and your reputation as a player. Even though they often aren’t hard and fast rules that will earn you a penalty, following proper etiquette will ensure that you receive reciprocal respect from your opponents and help you feel that much more comfortable at the tables.
Notorious boundary pusher Tony G can always be counted on to tilt his opponents by breaching poker etiquette, which earned him the well-deserved title of villain by commentator Joe Stapleton in an episode of the PokerStars Big Game. Even after it was all over, Tony continued to needle Hellmuth, adding insult to injury. When it comes to poker etiquette, you’ve got to know when to Hold’em, and know when to simply keep your mouth shut.