12 Unwritten Rules of Poker



You’ve spent weeks learning the rules of poker, you’ve nailed your strategy, hell, you’ve even got a few wins under your belt. But before you even step foot into a live or online poker game, you’ll need to perfect your poker etiquette. If you behave badly at the poker table, you’ll soon find yourself booted out.

Knowing the technical part of the game is a given, but if you learn the art of good poker etiquette, you’ll not only find yourself enjoying the game much more, you might even bag yourself a few more wins too.

Whilst there are certain rules you should follow in a live poker game, there are a few additional poker rules you need to bear in mind when playing poker online. So, to avoid any disastrous mishaps, we’ve put together an essential guide to online poker etiquette.

These are the unwritten poker rules every poker player should follow.

#1. Pay attention

This might sound like a given for any online poker player, whether you’re a seasoned pro or rising through the ranks, but one of the first golden rules of playing poker online is to have your wits about you. If you don’t pay attention to the gameplay, not only does it slow down the flow of the game for everyone else at the table, you could also miss an integral play which, as you know in online poker, could be catastrophic. You’re sitting at the table for a reason, right? You want to win the game. So make it count.

If one or two players keep stalling for no apparent reason—whether that’s because you’re distracted or simply taking far too long to make your play—it can slow the game down to a complete halt. Poker should be fluid and energetic, where players bounce off one another with the flick of a card.

We’re not saying that you have to make snap decisions, there’s always time to strategically plan your next move. A little drawn-out suspense always adds an element of excitement and anticipation to any online poker game. But when you’re playing poker online, just remember the players you’re playing against. If you’re distracted with other things while you’re playing, your opponents will quickly pick up on this. You’ll most likely find yourself having to change tables fairly frequently because no one wants you in their game. So, whilst this may sound like a nagging teacher telling you to pay attention in class, you’ll thank us for it in the long run. Make sure you give all your attention to one table, for your sake and everyone else’s.

#2. Don’t discuss the hands that you folded

Just because you’ve folded, you still need to respect the hand in play. Don’t talk about the cards that you folded while other players are still playing the same hand. If you reveal what cards you mucked, it could give the other remaining players an unfair advantage, as they could calculate the cards that haven’t yet been dealt. In fact, you should never share what your hand was at any point in the game, as it will give other players—particularly the more advanced players—an advantage. Seasoned poker players know all the crafty tricks, so don’t put yourself at a disadvantage by giving them an insight as to how you might play similar hands in future. Keep your cards close to your chest and no one else’s—literally. If you’re playing online.

# 3. Keep comments to a minimum

If you’ve folded and are out of hand, avoid commenting on the game in play. Unless you’ve been asked a direct question, no one really wants or needs to know your feedback or advice.

If you’re still in play, a little friendly banter via the chat box never goes amiss—if anything it will help to psyche out your opponent and keep the game interesting. But if this is your tactic in every game, you’ll be by far, the least popular player at the poker table.

#4. Don’t dish out unnecessary advice

Even if you know you’re the most advanced player at the table, avoid giving advice to other players, unless the game is over and they specifically ask for it. The last thing a player wants is an online commentary on what they’re doing wrong. You can always take your coaching skills offline to discuss what they could have done differently if they want to improve their poker strategy.

Giving advice to other players when the game is still in play is not only bad poker etiquette, it’s unfair and distracting to the other players who are still in the hand. You’re also giving away vital strategy tips that you might use later in the game, which puts you at a disadvantage. Not the smartest move.

#5. Keep up with the pace of the game

Online poker is much faster than live poker, so make sure you’re paying close attention and know when it’s your turn to play. Particularly if you’re multi-tabling (playing more than one table simultaneously). Although most online poker games have a strict time limit feature, players should still try to act decisively rather than waiting until the last second to make their action.

If you are playing multiple tables at once, be sure to stick to a manageable amount, so that you’re not keeping players at other tables waiting.

#6. Don’t hit and run

A “hit and run” player is someone who in a ring game wins a big pot, then gets up and leaves straight away, either to head to another table or simply to finish their session. A word of advice: this really annoys players, both recreational and regulars. Plus, it doesn’t actually stop you from losing. By taking your winnings to another table and playing another game, you could lose it all again anyway, so it’s fairly pointless. There might be times that you have to leave the game, and happen to win just before. Obviously, no one is going to berate you for leaving, but it does halt the game, so just try not to make it a habit. If you do have to leave the table for a while, just let the other players know so they don’t have to wait for you unnecessarily.

#7. Don’t slow roll

“Slow rolling” is when a player deliberately takes their sweet time to call when they know they have a winning hand. In a friendly live game it can be mildly amusing to trick your friends into thinking they’ve won, but it’s considered a massive faux pas when you’re playing live or online poker. When it comes to the rules of poker, you can always take the time you need to make your decision, but if you know you’ve got the nuts (the best hand possible) NEVER slow roll if you want to keep yourself in the game. The other players will not find it even remotely amusing. Reveal your hand as quickly as possible to keep up with the pace of the game.

#8. Be respectful

When you’re playing online poker, players often forget their opponents are real people, too. So remember that if you do fly off the handle and let your emotions run wild on the keyboard, there’s a real person on the receiving end.

It goes without saying that you should never berate or insult other players. Abusive language is never tolerated in online poker, and it won’t do any favors for your gameplay either. It will most likely make you more angry or upset. Instead, always try to bring a positive atmosphere to the poker table. Politeness and respect go a long, long way, even if you don’t see the person sitting behind the screen. Regardless of how badly you, or they, are playing, always act as you would in a live casino poker game—have respect and patience for your fellow players. Abusive behavior would almost certainly get you kicked out of a casino, so you’ll find yourself kicked off the table in an online game, too.

Playing poker is an art form, so stick to the poker rules and keep it classy, people.

#9. Don’t abuse the chat box

The chat box is there for a reason: to chat poker and solve any issues that arise during the game. Don’t use it as a forum to gloat about your skills, give unnecessary feedback, or critique other players—no one cares about how good a player you think you are, or your opinions on someone else’s game. Only use it when you need to use it, and always make sure that what you’re saying is beneficial to your game and never abusive or insulting. Abusing the chat for the sole purpose of making other players feel uncomfortable is a big no-no. Oh, and don’t write in capitals. It’s beyond annoying and implies you’re shouting at the other players, which will never work in your favor in a game of poker.

#10. Be a gracious winner

By all means celebrate your win, but try to stall your celebrations until after you’ve left the poker table. Don’t forget the players you’ve just beaten will be far from enthusiastic about your win, so just accept your win graciously to avoid adding insult to injury.

#11. Be a courteous loser

No one likes a sore loser, so avoid making angry or insulting comments if you do lose a hand. Complaining isn’t going to change anything, so the best thing you can do is to bow out and accept the loss courteously. You can always congratulate the winner too with a swift, “nice hand” too, as a sign of respect. The ultimate in poker etiquette.

#12. Keep a good WiFi connection

Think of how frustrating it is to lose out on winning a big pot because your WiFi cuts out. So, it’s not surprising that one of the most important poker rules in online poker is to make sure your internet connection is fast, and that it’s working. It’s just as frustrating to other players if they’re being forced to wait until your WiFi kicks back in. Test it before you start playing, or, if needs be, upgrade to something more reliable if you keep encountering problems.