Poker Etiquette: Dos and Don'ts at the Table

Are you interested in learning about poker etiquette? This article provides a helpful overview of the dos and don'ts at the poker table to help you make sure that you're maintaining proper manners—no matter what type of game you're playing!

Poker Etiquette: Dos and Don'ts at the Table

Poker is more than just a card game. It's a dance of strategy, psychology, and social interaction. As with any social game, there are unwritten rules and etiquettes that players should follow. Adhering to poker etiquette not only ensures the game runs smoothly but also ensures you earn respect from fellow players. Let's dive deep into the dos and don'ts of poker etiquette.

Introduction: The Importance of Etiquette

Poker is played in casinos, at home games, and online. Regardless of the venue, basic rules of courtesy and respect apply. For many, poker is not just about winning money but also about the experience of the game, the thrill of competition, and the social interactions. Proper etiquette ensures everyone enjoys the game.

1. The Dos of Poker Etiquette

a. Pay Attention

When you're at the poker table, stay focused. This means:

  • Knowing when it's your turn: Don’t keep others waiting.
  • Following the action: This ensures the game moves smoothly.

b. Respect the Dealer

Always be courteous to the dealer. Remember:

  • Never blame them for your bad cards.
  • Tip the dealer when you win a big pot. It's a standard practice in many venues.

c. Play at a Reasonable Speed

Time is valuable. Don't be the player that slows down the game unnecessarily. If you need extra time for a crucial decision, it's okay – but avoid consistently dragging out every decision.

d. Protect Your Cards

Ensure no one else can see your cards. Use a card protector or your hands to shield them.

e. Clearly State Your Intentions

If you're going to call, raise, or fold, clearly announce your action. This avoids confusion.

2. The Don'ts of Poker Etiquette

a. Don’t Splash the Pot

When making a bet, don’t throw your chips into the pot ('splashing the pot'). Instead, place them in front of you, and the dealer will put them in the pot.

b. Avoid Giving Unsolicited Advice

Never advise another player on how they should play a hand. Let everyone play their game.

c. Don't Discuss a Hand that's Still in Progress

Discussing a hand can influence the game and is considered disrespectful and, in some places, against the rules.

d. Stay Calm and Respectful

Poker can be intense. Nevertheless:

  • Avoid berating other players for how they play.
  • Never celebrate excessively when you win or act bitterly when you lose.

e. Don’t Be Absent

If you're not at the table when it's your turn, your hand will be folded. Repeated absences can disrupt the flow of the game.

3. Online Poker Etiquette

Playing poker online? The same core principles apply:

  • Be timely in your actions.
  • Avoid bad-mouthing in the chat.
  • Don't slow play intentionally to frustrate others.

Conclusion: A Game of Respect

Poker is a game of skill, strategy, and social nuances. Remember, the best players aren’t just those who play their cards right, but those who respect the game and its players.


1. Why should I tip the dealer?

Tipping the dealer is a gesture of appreciation for their service, similar to how you'd tip a waiter in a restaurant. Many dealers rely on tips as part of their income.

2. Can I use my phone at the poker table?

It depends on the casino or home game rules. Generally, avoid using your phone, especially during a hand, as it can be distracting.

3. What should I do if someone is consistently playing slowly?

You can politely ask them to speed up or bring it to the dealer's attention. Everyone is there to enjoy, and addressing it courteously is essential.

4. Is it okay to leave the table temporarily?

Yes, but let the dealer know, and ensure you're back before it's your turn, or your hand will be folded.

5. What if someone is being rude or aggressive?

Inform the dealer or the host of the game. They should address any issues to maintain a comfortable environment.

6. Why shouldn't I splash the pot?

Splashing the pot can make it hard to determine the bet amount and can be seen as a sign of disrespect.

7. Can I show my cards to a friend?

Not during a hand. Revealing cards can influence the game and is generally frowned upon.

8. Why is discussing a hand that's still in progress bad?

It can give away information that can unfairly influence the game's outcome.

9. How can I make sure I'm following all etiquette rules?

When in doubt, observe experienced players or ask the dealer. They're usually happy to guide newcomers.

10. Can I wear sunglasses or headphones at the table?

Typically, yes. However, always be aware of your surroundings and ensure they're not causing distractions to the game or others.

Remember, poker is not just about the cards in your hand but also how you conduct yourself. Play the game, respect the rules, and most importantly, enjoy!