Texas Holdem Poker Etiquette & Rules

First offense of the following rules for texas holdem poker etiquette generally results in a warning. But repeated deliberate violations can result in suspension or permanent barring from the poker room. Also players doing the following may find themselves not welcome at a home game or uninvited to another.

- Speaking in another language than what was predesignated, while a hand is in play.

- Acting out of turn during a hand.

- Any comment during the hand which could influence play whether the player is currently involved in the hand or not.

- Slowing down the game.

- Criticizing another players strategy.

- Insulting other players.

- Splashing chips into the pot.

- Taking chips off the table for anything other than buying food, drinks or tipping casino employees.

- Making hole cards unable to be seen by other players by having chips in front or covering with hands.

- Deliberately miscalling a hand at showdown with the intent to cause another player to throw away their hand.

When one or more player is all in during a hand.

- Making an agreement to check the hand to the river.

- Any comment during the hand which could influence play by a player that is all in.

The following will usually result in an immediate 24 hour suspension or permanent barring from the establishment.

- Throwing cards at the dealer or another player.

- Cussing at the dealer.

- Threatening another player or the dealer.

- Fighting.

The following will generally not get a person in trouble at all but are considered bad etiquette in texas holdem poker.

- Repeatedly asking to see players hole cards after they have lost a hand. The rule of being able to see losing hands is usually only there to prevent collusion among players. And is frowned upon using it as an excuse just to see what that person was holding over and over.

- Constantly being absent from the game. Some players will sit down and play for five minutes then be gone for 20 and then repeat this over and over thoughout the session. This will cause the game to have less action sometimes and is frowned upon by most players being like "Oh no not this guy again".

Violations of poker etiquette rules above happen all the time at all places I have played over the years. Although some seem very silly, people can get extremely heated playing poker especially when losing or dealing with a jerk at the table. I have even seen these things done in games that involve no money at all. Kind of like many of us have seen parents of players in a Little League game attack or insult the coaches, referees or fellow parents.

My advice and personal guidelines

Anytime I have a problem with anyone that has the potential to get out of hand or cannot be easily resolved I ask for a floor person to be called over to resolve the situation and defuse it before it becomes worse or slows the game. And I recommend anyone do the same.

Personal experiences

- Recently I broke my wrist and on the other hand I had a broken finger and was playing cards with a cast . It was difficult to hold the cards with either hand. At one point I went to discard my cards and accidentally hit the dealers hand. An obvious accident to all. But being how I play for a living I am not the best tipper in the place and the dealer called the floor person telling him I had purposely hit him with the cards. At that particular card room it is automatic 24 hr suspension for hitting the dealer with cards and the dealer knew it. 

The floor man knew me well and I am always very polite to all employees. He told me he had no choice but to send me home though as it is policy. But then mentioned quietly to me that he would not know if i was there but on the other side of the casino. I proceeded to walk to the omaha hi/lo poker section and played the rest of the day.

- Another time I was in Vegas at a very good game played mostly by locals, most of whom I knew. There was a question of collusion about a man and his spouse. Other players asked me "to ask to see their hands next time they were raising each other back and forth to see what they were doing". I did it out of a sense of duty to keep the game fair and the guy exploded at me. He threatened me a couple times.

I am not kidding when I say that everyday before I play I read a list of mistakes I want to avoid during each day. One of them is " Do not offer to fight at or near the casino". So I called the floor-man over to take care of this guy who was out of control. He was escorted out but later managed to make his way back into the casino yelling at me "You will have to get up sooner or later to go to the bathroom". Implying that he would be waiting to get me.

There were no security there to stop him and I genuinely felt threatened. I jumped up out of my chair and put up my dukes telling him "Im will kick you a$$ biatch". He quickly backed down.

I was given a 24 hour suspension.

The next day I was applauded by the locals telling me that I had handled it like a professional. And they all know poker is my profession. I  had done well to stay calm and let casino personnel handle the irate man and only when they had failed did I do what I had to. I had also taken one for the group by standing up to the possible cheater which also got me more respect than before.

Both of these times I was doing nothing wrong and kicked out for 24 hrs. I knew it to be unfair but if I had made a big scene or whatever may have just been worse. I have been through this type of scenario many times. I just recommend if you find yourself a victim of an unfair decision.

#1 Keep you cool. Talk to the floor man and if that doesn't work deal with his decision or talk to his supervisor. If it is a home game talk to the coordinator and or the other players and try to resolve it that day or next time in a civilized manner whenever possible. And if the decision was unfair and seemed unethical like playing favorites or floor people that are lining their pockets with payoffs, have them removed or don't play there anymore. It is rare as I have only seen it one time throughout my career, but it does happen. 

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