Unwritten Rules of Poker - WPT Global

There’s things in life you just know you are not supposed to do. Nobody needs to hand you a written list, you just know. Well, that goes for poker also, but we’re going to write them down for you anyway.

Don't Angle Shoot

Angle shooting lives in a gray area between outright cheating and unethical conduct at a poker table. It is frowned upon by all respectable poker players. A common use of angle shooting is to take advantage of novice players by misrepresenting actions by other players at the poker table. Common examples would be a player reaching for their chips while watching their opponent to get a read and then not acting, or a player announcing an arbitrary number like four when they’re announcing a raise without declaring that it was 4,000 or 400.

Always Respect the Dealer and Other Players

This one should go without saying in all walks of life. The dealer has no control over the random luck of a hand, so getting angry at them for the run-out of cards is just ignorant. Dealers will make mistakes occasionally as all humans do so handle those situations with understanding and just call for the floor to sort things out. 

You should also treat your fellow players with respect, if you don’t it could result in a penalty, or it could drive beginning players to leave the table and cut into everyone’s profit margin for the session.

Don't Waste Other People's Time

Don’t consistently tank on your decisions during a poker hand when you already know how you’re going to act. Yes, there are key decisions in big pots that require extra time for you to decide how to proceed, but if you tank more often than not the other players at the table aren’t going to respect your need for extra time to make a decision when it’s actually needed.

Calling The Clock Too Soon

On the flip side of not taking too long to act, is respecting a player’s time to make a decision when they need it in a big pot with multiple bets and raises on multiple streets. 

Do not call the clock on a player that has not been consistently tanking during your observations at that table. They haven’t been taking advantage of your time with their previous actions, so don’t take advantage of their time when they truly need it either.

Avoid Slow-Rolling

Another one of the big unwritten rules in poker is to avoid slow-rolling your opponent when you already know that you’ve got the nuts and are going to win the hand before you call or move all in. This only humiliates your opponent and prolongs their feeling of loss in the pot you were clearly going to win. Bet when you have the hand won, don’t showboat, it doesn’t look good.

Pay Attention To The Action and Stay Focused on the Game

This is another one that goes without saying for any walk of life. If you don’t pay attention to the action and focus on the game then you’re inevitably going to slow down the action at the table. This could be because you’re too busy eating or drinking, talking to another player at the table, distracted by what you’re listening to on your headphones, or looking at your phone (although most times players aren’t allowed to be on their phones when involved in a hand). 

Whatever the reason, this is just plain rude and slows down the poker game.

Avoid Declaring Your Move too Soon

One reason you need to be paying attention to the action is so that you know the proper time to act in a hand. If you get excited after getting dealt pocket aces after a cold run of cards you might announce your bet or raise before it’s your turn. This affects the way the hand plays out, and puts you at a disadvantage because your opponents now know how you will act.

Don't Reveal Your Hand While Others Are Still Playing

Along the same lines of not declaring your action before it’s your turn, you should never reveal your cards while other players are still playing whether you’re still in the pot or choosing to fold. Once again, this affects the way the hand is played out, and puts you at a disadvantage to your opponents that now know what you’re holding. Even if you didn’t show your cards when you folded, you should also never talk about the hand you threw into the muck while that current hand is still in progress.

Never Give or Ask for Advice During a Hand

Another pretty self-explanatory rule of poker etiquette is to not discuss strategy during a hand. You should neither give nor ask for advice during a hand, because it is not only an attempt to gain an unfair advantage during the hand, but it also gives the opponents around you more information to work with. 

Dealers and floor staff immediately warn you to end these conversations if they’re happening, and if you still don’t stop you most likely face a penalty where you have to sit out subsequent hands or rounds of action. 

Don't Complain About Bad Beats and Go on Tilt

This is another one of the common sense unwritten rules of the game. Nobody likes to hear someone complain about how they got unlucky at a poker table, whether you are still seated at that table or otherwise. Nothing makes someone’s eyes glaze over faster than hearing a bad beat story they’ve either experienced themselves or heard about hundreds of times beforehand. This also ties into going on tilt, since bad beat stories usually lead to players losing control of their emotions after a hand they lost and acting angry, impolite, or annoyed at their opponent’s or the dealer as a result. It’s always best to be a good loser, check your emotions, and fight the urge to tell a bad beat story to anyone who seems willing to listen.