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The Unwritten Rules of Poker and Poker Etiquette

Home » The Unwritten Rules of Poker and Poker Etiquette

The Unwritten Rules of Poker and Poker Etiquette

Three people in tweed suits playing poker in a Victorian-style room. There are drinks, cigars, playing cards, and poker chips on the table in front of them.

In life, there are written rules that make it clear what people can and can’t do. There are also unwritten rules that define what is and isn’t allowed. The same applies to poker, which has written rules that define how the game is played, as well as unwritten rules that define how people should play the game together. 

If you’re new to the game of poker, you may not be familiar with these unwritten rules. But don’t worry. These are not valuable secrets that are only shared among the poker elite. In fact, you can learn all about the unwritten rules of poker and poker etiquette in this blog. Keep reading to find out what unwritten actions, either when you play poker online or in person, make for good poker etiquette.

1. Always Be Respectful to Players, Dealers, and Other Staff

Whether you’re playing online or at a casino, it’s important to remember that you should be respectful of others from start to finish. Whether it’s another player, the dealer, or even a waiter or waitress in a brick-and-mortar casino, it’s good manners to be polite. Treat others the way you want to be treated, and everyone will have a good time. Don’t, and you might just find yourself being escorted out by security at a real casino or with a temporary ban if you’re playing at an online poker site.

2. Keep Your Chips in Order

When you play a game of poker at a casino, it’s good poker table etiquette to have your poker chips stacked so that other players can see how much you have. If your chips are loosely scattered in front of you, or you intentionally obscure some of them, you may get a warning from the dealer or even be excluded from the game since it’s against poker rules. 

3. Focus on the Game

While it’s a given that you’ll be paying attention when playing in offline or online poker tournaments, you should pay attention no matter when or where you’re playing. It might be tempting to answer a call when it’s not your turn at a casino poker table, or you might even be watching your favorite series while playing online, but it’s rude to other players who might have to wait because you’re distracted. 

4. Don’t Act or Suggest What You’re Going To Do Before It’s Your Turn

Being distracted can also lead to situations where you lose track of the game and accidentally act out of turn. This can completely derail a game because your actions, accidental or not, will leak information to other players and affect their choices. 

Similarly, saying what you might do out loud or even vaguely hinting at your next play can also be seen as a way to influence others’ actions and isn’t allowed.

5. Communicate Your Actions Clearly

A poker player faces another player who looks concernedly at the poker table. The dealer is also looking at the cards on the table.

When it is your turn, it’s important to communicate your actions clearly. This should be done verbally as well as with your actions. For example, when placing a bet, announce how much you’re betting and place the chips over the betting line. Or, if you want to fold, announce that you’re folding before you do. 

When playing in person, it’s a good idea to check for any specific poker house rules or guidelines you need to follow, such as how to fold and whether you should place the cards near the dealer or directly into the burned card pile.

6. Don’t “Splash the Pot” When Placing Your Bet

“Splashing the pot” means throwing the chips you want to wager into the pot. This is highly discouraged as it makes it hard for the dealer and other players to see if you have actually wagered what you said you would. And even if it’s clear which chips are yours, that still means that the dealer has to collect them and place them neatly into the pot.

7. Don’t Take Too Long To Play

While it’s important to make the right decision, you shouldn’t take too long to make up your mind. Just because there isn’t a countdown for each player’s turn, there’s still an expectation that each player will act reasonably quickly, as this is considered good offline and online poker etiquette

In situations where you’re too slow, another player may call the clock on you, forcing you to act within a certain amount of time. If you don’t act before time runs out, your hand is dead and will be added to the discard pile.

It’s also poor etiquette to slow roll. This is when it’s the final showdown, and you intentionally take a long time to reveal your winning hand. It can also refer to calling a bet or raise just before the showdown when you have a very strong hand. It’s considered rude by many players and should be avoided. 

8. Don’t Show Your Cards While Playing or After You’ve Folded

Most players keep their hole cards on the table and raise them slightly so only they can see them. However, a more dubious individual might “accidentally” show their cards to either see how other players react or to bully them off the pot. This may be followed by a warning or the hand being declared dead. In some cases, a player may be required to remain in the game but may not make any additional plays until a new hand starts.

Similarly, if you’ve decided to fold, you shouldn’t let other players see your cards. Those who are still playing will take your cards into account, even if they’re no longer in play. By preventing them from seeing your cards, others won’t act based on the cards that you had.

9. Don’t Angle Shoot

An angry poker player grabs another poker player’s tie and pulls them forward. Another player watches.

Angle shooting refers to any action that isn’t technically cheating but is viewed as an unethical way to gain an advantage over your opponents. Here are a few examples of angle shooting.

String Betting

A string bet is when you don’t place your bet in one go but instead place a few chips at a time. This can be considered angle shooting, as you can do it to try and see how other players will react.

Obscuring or Hiding Your Chips

If your poker chips, particularly your most valuable chips, aren’t clearly visible to everyone in the game, you could unethically use this to your advantage. If a player thinks you’re on the ropes and running out of funds, they might make a bet larger than they would have if they’d known the actual value of your chips.

Faking Certain Gestures

Certain gestures, such as folding or counting chips, can be faked to see how your opponents react. Like string betting, faking these gestures can be used to assess other players before committing to your actual play. And like string betting, it’s frowned upon.

Lying About the State of Your Hand

While bluffing is considered a part of the game, outright lying about the state of your hand isn’t acceptable.

“Accidentally” Saying One Thing and Doing Another

Verbally committing to one action but then doing another is also considered another type of angle shooting due to the information you can gather from other people’s reactions. Saying you’re going to fold and then gesturing that you’re checking, or committing verbally to a raise but then only placing enough chips for a call, will get you a warning (if not removed from the game.)

10. Avoid a Hit and Run

A “hit and run” generally refers to a player winning a large amount of money in a single or few games and then leaving shortly after. This is generally considered bad sportsmanship since you’re not giving the other players a chance to get their money back. Yes, you may be a good player, but it’s also possible that you had an exceptionally lucky run. This is why it’s considered good etiquette to stay and play a while longer to prove that your winning was more than just luck.

Enjoy All That Online Poker Has To Offer at BetMGM

While all of these etiquette guidelines may not apply to both casino and online poker, it’s important to know how to play fairly so that you and everyone you play poker with has a good time. It’s also important to know that you’ll be treated fairly when you play at an online casino or poker site. This is why you should play at BetMGM. 

BetMGM is a U.S. online poker site, casino, and sportsbook that is legally licensed to operate in multiple states across the country and is regulated by each state’s relevant gambling body. This ensures that the games, betting options, and platform offer a fair experience for all players. BetMGM also has 24/7 customer support, a wide variety of bonuses and promotions, an excellent range of payment options, and, of course, an excellent library of games and betting options so that you can enjoy more than just fair play. 

Register at BetMGM to start playing fair games of online poker and more.

The rules of poker are clearly defined, but the rules of how to play are often unwritten. Learn more about the unwritten rules of poker and poker etiquette.