The Ten Commandments of Poker Etiquette
[In Charlton Heston as “Moses” voiceover….]
Here all ye’ faithful!
I’ve just returned to the valley of darkness from the high summit on Mount Charleston. Within my arms rest stone tablets etched by fire. I bring to you light — the direct word from the heavenly poker gods.
Indeed, there is proof of divinity. Look to the west. The vast plumes of white smoke you’ve witnessed barreling into the sky in recent days over the desert came from the pyres of the almighty hand.
Now amongst my flock, I bestow upon you “The Ten Commandments of Poker Etiquette.”
1. Thou shalt practice good personal hygiene.
Is anything more important than this fundamental commandment? Think of those excruciating occasions when you’ve sat in a poker game amongst players with body odor, or skunk breath. Or with players who dress in tank tops and have sweat pouring from their armpits. If you play poker in public, please do everyone around you a favor: (1) take a shower, (2) brush your teeth, and (3) dress appropriately at the poker table.
2. Thou shalt not slow-play.
What in the hell has happened to poker tournaments? What is it with taking two fucking minutes to make every single table decision? If an opponent shoves and you sit there holding ace-king or a big pocket pair, go ahead — take some time. But these purely orchestrated moments of high drama on every poker hand are sucking the life right out of the game. Everyone gets bored to shit when the time-waster sits there like he’s playing heads-up in the Main Event, showboating his ass off, when he’s probably holding jack-four off-suit. Unfortunately, the problem of “slow play” seems to be getting worse instead of better. Even players who make the WSOP November Nine are now taking so much time with decisions, they’re ruining poker on television. Slow players should be stoned to death.
3. Thou shalt stack chips properly.
How difficult it is to stack your chips in consistently into even rows? Like in stacks of twenty. Or at least organize them in a manner where other players can determine your chip count. By sprawling out your chips, you aren’t fooling anyone. You’re slowing down the game at times and behaving like a jackass. Go back and look at all the poker greats from the past and try to find me one player who piles his chips up like a garbage dump. You won’t find any.
4. Thou shalt not make speeches at the poker table.
Think of all the times you’re forced to sit and listen to a speech from some mook who wins a hand. I’ve seen this happen numerous times, where the bore berates his opponent as he drags the pot. It’s even worse when a supposedly “good” player takes a bad beat from a “bad” player, and then gives his opponent a lecture on how he played the hand completely wrong. Save your speech. No one cares.
5. Thou shalt engage other players socially at the table.
Far too many poker players seem to have forgotten that poker is a game of people. Remember that foreign concept? Most players — especially those who are part-timers and who play recreationally — provide the game with what it essentially needs, which is the lifeblood of money. They desperately want entertainment. They play poker to enjoy themselves. So let’s do this — entertain them. Talk to them. Engage them. Most players who sit in total silence oblivious to social interaction are cancerous to the game.
6. Thou shalt not tell bad beat stories.
Under no circumstances should any winning poker player ever tell a bad beat story. No exceptions. For a more thorough explanation of why this is so, click here: ANNOUNCING: FOR $1,000 I’LL LISTEN TO YOUR BAD BEAT STORY
7. Thou shalt not blame the dealer when bad things happen.
Want to identify a total loser? Any player who blames the dealer for the way the cards come out is the dumbest player in the room. It’s like blaming the postman for stuffing bills in your mailbox. Poker dealers are delivery people. What you do with the package is up to you. Fortunately, these bozos are so full of superstitions that they have no chance to win in the long run. So, they end up being your perfect opponents. Seek them out, for they will line your pockets with gold. Any game where some idiot is blaming a dealer for a beat is a game I want to be sitting in.
8. Thou shalt not hit on women at the poker table.
Poker needs more women players. That goes for cash games. That goes for tournaments. That goes for everywhere. Sadly, too many slimball lizards act like the poker table is their personal nightclub. They try to make moves on women — both players and dealers. I have a few choice words for these jackasses. Most women have heard every pick up line in the book, and nothing you say is either original or funny. Frankly, you’re annoying — not only to the women but to everyone else. Besides, you’ve got no shot at picking up the girl anyway, so play your hand and keep your creepy behavior to yourself.
9. Thou shalt not talk loudly when others are involved in a big hand.
It’s terrible etiquette to disrespect others at the table, especially if they’re involved in a big hand. Keep your voice down, or better yet, keep quiet when there’s significant action. Sure, conversation should be encouraged between hands. Moreover, table banter can be a lot of fun. However, the more chips in the pot, the lower your decibel level should be if you’re not involved inf the hand. Respect the game and its players.
10. If thou art a poker pro, thou should act like a poker pro.
If you really are a poker pro, then try acting like one. Read up on the games’ incredible history. Honor it’s greatest traditions. Respect others who achieve success. For instance, the behavior of many so-called “pro poker players” who act with complete indifference to things like the WSOP gold bracelet ceremony is disgraceful. Can you take two fucking minutes of the day — about what it takes you to tank one poker decision if you’re one of the slow-players — to honor someone who is enjoying the thrill of a poker lifetime? Two fucking minutes! By not honoring the game or its players, you’re acting unsportsmanlike and unprofessional. You are blessed to play poker for a living. With this unusual career choice comes certain obligations to lift the game and everyone in it. Try to think of someone other than yourself for a change.