Poker Etiquette for Your First In-Person Game

With such promising news of a Covid-19 vaccine, poker players may be able to return more widely to physical tables in 2021. If you’ve only ever played online poker, the transition to playing live may be off-putting at first. To help you fit in at a cardroom or house game, here are our tips on in-person poker etiquette.

Prepare a general strategy so that you can play quickly

One of the most striking differences between online poker and live poker is the number of hands dealt per hour. To combat the time lost through shuffling and dealing, poker players try to be courteous to one another and the dealer (who needs to deal a lot of hands to make good tips) by acting quickly. A general rule is that you can take more time when the pot is bigger, but for commonly occurring decisions (such as whether to fold a hand pre-flop) you should take no more than five seconds.

Playing quickly comes from two areas: paying attention and coming to the table with a game plan. If you want to learn poker fundamentals to take the guesswork out of strategy, consider enrolling in a Poker Power course.

Leave tells and attitude at home

It can be therapeutic to yell at your computer screen after a run of bad luck. It’s human nature to express yourself. But wearing your heart on your sleeve can have two detrimental effects when you play live. First, your opponents will be able to discern the strength of your hand based on your reactions. Second, no one likes playing with a gloating winner or sore loser.

An effective mindset to help keep your emotions at bay is to concentrate on whether your decisions were logical, not whether the outcomes were favorable. This will improve your play by instilling an inquisitiveness about alternative strategies. If you still find yourself feeling frustrated when things don’t go your way, just take a short walk away from the table: poker’s not going anywhere.

Common courtesies

There are a few situational pieces of kindness that poker players have an unspoken agreement to do for one another. The first is being consistent about chopping in the blinds. (Chopping is the act of the two blinds mucking their cards and taking their blinds back when the rest of the table has folded to save everyone time and avoid the house’s cut.

This can only happen in non-tournament cash games). It’s considered good manners to either always chop in the blinds, or never chop in the blinds so that you don’t take advantage of the good faith your table mate has placed in you.

A second courtesy to take is to show your cards as soon as the action is complete if you know you’ll win the hand. This saves your opponent the uncertainty of wondering whether their hand is the winner. Finally, make sure you don’t talk about the current hand unless there are only two players left and you’re one of them.

It might be tempting to say what you think someone has or to make a joke about how the 9-3 you folded made two-pair, but this reveals information that unfairly benefits one of the players in the hand.

Get to know your fellow players

Live poker is always a social game while online poker is only social while you’re playing with friends over Zoom. When you’re playing online it’s totally cool to listen to music or multitask. At a physical poker table, you may see some players with headphones on.

But if you’re listening to music, and not hearing what’s being said at the table, you may miss valuable information that may help you play your hand.  Embrace the opportunity to make new friends and hop in or at least observe the table discussion. You might be surprised by the people you meet along the way.

If you’re interested in meeting other women who are passionate about poker before in-person games more widely reopen, you can join a PokerPower class. Take your seat at the table and experience the power of poker. We wish you a happy and healthy new year.

Poker Power is for educational purposes and does not permit gambling in our clubs. No poker experience is required.