Just about every situation in life has its own rules of expected behavior aka ‘etiquette’. Poker is no different. In poker, there are many long standing rules of etiquette that are not only ‘good manners’ but make the game ‘flow’ better and be more enjoyable for players. They also help the dealer in administrating the game accurately and efficiently. Although Hollywood movies and popular mythology have glorified that ‘bratty’ poker players that type of behavior won’t get you very far as a beginner. You have to reach a certain level of experience when you can start getting away with boorish behavior. If you act like a jerk when you’re starting out you won’t ever reach that point.

That being said, there’s really no reason to act like a jerk when you’re playing poker. This applies not only to the dealer but to other players. Whether you’re playing online, in a casino or in a home game you’ll get more mileage out of being a player that others respect than you will by trying to act mean or belligerent. No matter what your ‘real’ mood is, don’t take it out on others. You’re better off trying to keep an ‘even keel’ while you’re playing poker. If you don’t you run the risk of making careless mistakes which will just dig yourself into a deeper financial hole.


–DON’T PLAY OUT OF TURN: There’s no more obvious way to ‘out’ yourself as a novice than this. It doesn’t matter if you have a great hand and you can’t wait to bet it or if you have a bad hand and you can’t wait to fold it. Keep your cards in your hand and your intentions to yourself until the action comes around to your table position.

–DON’T SHOW YOUR CARDS UNTIL THE SHOWDOWN: There’s a reason it’s *called* the “showdown”. It’s extremely poor form to throw down your cards face up in disgust when you fold. Put your cards face down on the table and if you want every to feel sorry for you because of a ‘bad beat’ or whatever you can flip them over after the hand.

–DON’T TALK ABOUT YOUR CARDS UNTIL THE END OF THE HAND: This is a corollary to the rule above. Don’t talk about the cards–your cards, someone else’s cards, the cards you wish you got or whatever–until the end of the hand. Pros just muck their hand and go on with life. Don’t chatter on about how you played it or how you should have played it–no one wants to hear it.

–DON’T SPLASH THE POT: That’s when you carelessly throw chips into the pot and make a big mess. This is shown in the movies all the time but it’s highly frowned upon. The right way to do it is to place your chips neatly in the pot. This helps the other players figure out how much money is in the pot (important for figuring ‘pot odds’) and it also helps the dealer keep track of the game.

–PAY ATTENTION: This is not only smart from a strategic standpoint but it’s polite. You don’t want other players to have to remind you that it’s your turn to bet or otherwise get your head back into the game. In addition, don’t talk on your cellphone or–for that matter–send text messages or emails. Pay attention to the game.

–KNOW THE RULES: There are countless variations of poker and if you’re going to sit at the table and play you need to know the rules. If you’re a novice, other players and the dealer will be happy to help you but if you’re completely clueless they’ll quickly lose patience with you.