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The Unwritten Laws of Poker

Home » The Unwritten Laws of Poker

The Unwritten Laws of Poker

Two poker players drink whiskey and laugh while at a poker table.

Poker is undoubtedly one of the most popular casino table games in the world. Once you are familiar with the basic rules of poker,  it’s important to keep in mind that poker is often a super social game with players interacting with each other frequently. This is why having a few simple rules in place makes sense to ensure everyone has a good time when playing together. 

However, not all poker etiquette is written in stone (or even on paper.) There are unwritten rules that every poker player should know, whether you’re playing online poker tournaments, live poker or anything else in between.

These are the unwritten poker rules that everyone should know to avoid breaking an unspoken poker law and crossing into bad poker etiquette.

Don’t Angle Shoot

If you’re new to in-person or online poker, then you might not know what we mean by “angle shoot.” To angle shoot is defined as “when a player makes an intentional and unethical move to take advantage of less experienced players or a situation at the table.”

While many of the moves considered as angle shooting are not strictly cheating, they are incredibly poor etiquette and should be avoided at all times. Here are just a few examples:

  • Looking at another player’s hole cards. 
  • Acting out of turn on purpose to gather information from the other players.
  • Creating an illusion of a shorter stack by obscuring your high-value chips, either with your body or, most commonly, using other stacks of lower-value chips.
  • Proclaiming that you have a winning hand at a showdown when you don’t.
  • Stating the value of a bet verbally using the wrong denomination compared to chips you placed in the pot for a raise, but then trying to backtrack when the dealer confirms your bet.
  • “Accidentally” placing an incorrect bet and then trying to undo the wager after you have placed the chips down. 
  • Picking up chips for a wager, moving them forward and announcing your bet, but then withdrawing your bet by not placing it beyond the betting line and placing another bet. This is done to gauge the reaction of your opponents.
  • Placing your total bet using multiple smaller stacks. This is known as string betting and can be used to see how your opponents will react once you place the first part of your bet.

No matter how you try to “work the system,” you should never intentionally trick other players with these kinds of plays.

Always Respect the Dealer and Other Players

A well-dressed group of players gesturing angrily across a poker table.

Luckily, most poker players abide by this unwritten rule since it’s relatively straightforward. Firstly, the dealer is in charge of the game and should be treated as such. No talking back, complaining or aggressive gestures will be tolerated. Regarding to other players, you should always be polite, whether you win or lose. Don’t use offensive language, mock other players or try to deliberately sabotage their games.

Avoid Slow Rolling

Slow rolling is a massive no-no in all forms of poker games, whether you play poker online or in person. Slow rolling is when you know that you have the game-winning hand but don’t show it during a showdown, giving the other players the false impression that they are going to win the game. You should always reveal your hand rather than allow the opponents to believe that they are ahead.

Don’t Waste Time

While it’s completely understandable that you need to take time to think about your hands, it’s important that you don’t waste time when making simple decisions. By all means, take your time when you are in the big pot or have a really difficult decision to make, but don’t make every move stretch out into minutes. Not only is this incredibly rude, but it also affects your bottom line, as the longer the games take, the fewer hands you will play per hour. This could cut into any profit that you make.

Don’t Call the Clock Too Soon

A stopwatch on a poker table with chips and two cards.

Going with the point above about wasting time, it’s super annoying when someone wastes time on each hand. That doesn’t mean that you should call the clock one hand into the game. Ensure you give other players enough time to think about their decisions before alerting the dealer to call the clock. Calling the clock too soon on another player is extremely rude and indicates to the other players that you are impatient.

Avoid Declaring Your Move Too Soon

It’s a given that accidents happen in poker – one of them is mistakenly blurting your move out in excitement before your turn. However, it’s important that you don’t make a habit of it. By jumping the gun, you could completely ruin the game by giving information to other players that they can use or that will change a decision on their hand.

Don’t Talk About Cards That You Folded While the Hand Is Still in Progress

There is an actual rule about not doing this in poker, but some people tend to forget, particularly if a flop would have helped them. Always avoid talking about or reacting to the cards in the middle once you have folded. It can be difficult to watch. However, it’s important that you wait until the hand is over before you tell the table what you folded if you feel like you need to.

Avoid Celebrating Too Much

It’s always fun to win, but it’s important to remember that the other players have just lost. No one likes a poor sportsman who gloats too much when they win. Yes, you can celebrate, but you should always keep it to a polite level to avoid rubbing your success in other players’ faces.

Play Poker with BetMGM

These are just some of the unwritten rules of poker, but even if you’ve mastered the rules of poker for beginners, there’s a lot more to learn. The best way to gain this understanding is through practice. At BetMGM, we have a range of different online casino poker games, from a variety of Texas Hold’em games, Omaha, 7-card Stud and much more. You can also get handy information like poker tournament tips and other helpful guides on our blog.

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There’s more for beginner poker players to learn than just the mechanics of the game. Here are some unwritten poker rules for good poker etiquette.