Poker Etiquette 101

With so many players learning to play poker by watching it on TV or learning online it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that many of the more subtle nuances of the live game are not known to the casual player. So many of the decisions are taken out of you hands in the online game, you can never make too little of a raise, act out of turn,  forget to post, or a whole slough of other faux pas made by the beginner to the live game.

Well, like eating with your hands when you are a kid,  if no one tells you any differently then how are you to know right from wrong?

Right.

So here it is, your first lesson in the continuing education of poker players for the live game, “table manners” if you like.

String Bet

This one came up in the Home Game the other night from one of the newer players and there was a pretty fine line to walk with this, but most would technically call it a string bet, or string raise.

First of all let’s go through what that is.

In poker, your first action is defined as you action.

What the hell does that mean?

Well, there are two ways to make an action in poker, verbally and physically

Verbally: meaning you can tell the other players what you are going to do and then follow through on that action. “I call” for instance and then place the appropriate amount of chips into the pot.

Physically: meaning without saying a word, you could call by simply placing the appropriate amount of chips over the “pass” line or into the pot.

You can not though make two actions on your turn.

Like saying “I call.” and then saying “and raise you $20″

The verbal first action of “I call” is accepted as being the binding action.

People that learned to play poker from watching old Western movies may make this mistake.

The same way, you can not make two physical actions.

You can not for instance place a bet equivalent to a call into the pot, and then go back to your stack and get more chips for a raise. If you are not going to announce that you are raising you need to place all the chips into the pot in one single motion.

What if I can’t get all my chips into the pot in one action?

Bless your little heart for asking and I truly hope we all have this problem sometime in the future. But lets just say that you are at the final table of the WSOP Main Events and sitting there with $20,000,000 in chips in front of you in about 50 stacks. Someone limps into the pot and you want to raise to $4,000,000 which is 10 stacks, you can’t get all those into the pot in just one motion can you? No, and you don’t have to, you would simply announce that you are going to raise, and then verbally announce the amount and then you could make as many trips back to the stack as you needed to.

Why does this matter?

Good question. String bets can be seen as a form of angle shooting.

What?

Angle Shooting

Part Deux.

Angle shooting is the practice of using tactics that are borderline legal in order to gain an unfair advantage over your opponent. In this case if the person to act was to say that they are going to “call” and picked up a tell on the other player that seemed weak and quickly said “and raise you $50″ they may be able to take down the pot right there.

Or say “raise” and throw out $50 and watch your reaction, if you looked questionable he would go back to the stack for another $100 or so.

Well there you go, your first lesson in poker etiquette, now practice it in real life and you are sure to be invited back for another fish dinner.

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