Poker Table Etiquette

I really only have one rule when I sit down at a poker table, whether live or online. And that’s to not act like a jerk. Not only is being a jerk impolite, it’s not profitable. I’ve seen people throw chips at dealers, berate players, pass out on their chips, and just plain act like fools. Online the behavior seems to be even worse.

The only time I’m tempted to say something nasty to someone is when I get drawn out online. It’s when I have my set of kings cracked by the guy playing 5-3 offsuit who hits his runner runner straight on the river. Sometimes I just have to log off. I’ve seen other players react to the same situation with a barrage of insults. Or they’ll become the table teacher and start telling everyone how horrible a player their opponent is, and exactly what mistakes he’s making. I’ve even seen people read back Poker Tracker results at the table in order to “prove” how inept their opponents are. I think it’s the anonymity being online. People feel like they can get away with more. And they can to a certain extent. But what most people don’t realize is that we should be happy when poor players draw out on us with their super lucky favorite hand. If that never happened, if poor players didn’t hit lucky streaks, then they’d have no incentive to keep playing and all we’d be left with are the good players. Those players that draw out on us once in a blue moon with their runner runner straights are the same players that pay us off 99% of the time.

We want the “any two cards can win” players to stay happy and stay in the game. Without them playing we couldn’t win any money. The next time your aces or kings get cracked by a garbage hand, instead of ridiculing them, congratulate them. I once saw a high limit player win a huge pot with a back door straight in a hand that he had no business being in. The expert player who should have won didn’t act upset. Instead he congratulated the player on his “fine play” and said “yeah, people just don’t understand that this is gambling, I mean, you just have to go with your feelings sometimes.” Instead of going on tilt, that player kept his cool and proceeded over the next couple hours to take the amateur player’s entire stack.

I hear more and more people talk about how they can’t win online because everyone calls them down all the way to the river every time. That their aces and kings get cracked 100% of the time and that the only thing they can do is move up in limits so they can find players that “respect” their raises. This is utter nonsense. If you can’t win against poor players, you’re sure not going to win against skilled players. The tables where everyone is calling you all the way to the river are the best tables you can possibly play at. Why on earth wouldn’t you want to play at a table full of lousy players where everyone is making horrible mistakes every hand?! Although you will get drawn out on more often, when you do win, you’ll get paid off big time. It does even out. You just see larger swings. Good players get drawn out on more often because we’re in when we have the best of it. If you’re only playing premium hands, you’re not going to get lucky on the river with garbage because you’ll never hold garbage. And vice versa, you can’t get drawn out on if you’re always playing crap. Hence the illusion that good players are always losing to poor players. Often the players that can’t win the easy games simply aren’t skilled players. Reading a book or two won’t make you a good player. You have to study and analyze your game. You have to go over your hand histories from time to time and actively search for leaks in your game. A program like Poker Tracker or Poker Office can help greatly. If you think you can’t win easy games because of poor players, it’s time to take a look at yourself.

And remember, don’t berate the fish, we need to keep them happy so they’ll keep playing!