Online Poker Etiquette

If you’ve ever played live poker in an organized environment, such as a casino, then you’ll probably be aware that there aren’t only formal rules at the poker table, but there are also several unwritten rules about what is considered acceptable behavior and what’s not. These rules are largely about treating your fellow players the right way and ensuring the game plays out fairly. Fortunately, none of them are particularly hard to stick to.

Even though things are a bit different online, you can still interact with the other players using the chat facility available at poker sites. As such, most of these unwritten rules apply online too. However, people often forget this when they’re playing online or think that just because they are behind a computer screen that etiquette doesn’t matter. Of course there are some people that simply aren’t aware of the unofficial code of conduct and we want to make sure that you aren’t one of them.

On this page we have outlined the basics of online poker etiquette, which is mostly common sense and simple courtesy. It’s well being aware of it all, as it will ensure that you don’t annoy others at the virtual tables or get banned from using the chat facility altogether. Please remember that the online poker environment should be pleasant for everyone and it’s up to all player to ensure it stays that way.

Avoid Abuse & Profanities

This isn’t only online poker etiquette, it’s also usually a part of the terms and conditions at poker sites. Rightly so too, as there really is no excuse for abusing your opponents. Emotions can run wild at the poker tables and it’s understandable if you get frustrated from time to time, but you really shouldn’t resort to unpleasant behavior. It might make you feel better for a very short period of time, but it’s not really fair to others at the table.

A bit of light hearted banter comments shouldn’t be an issue, as long as you make sure that you don’t take it too far. Anyway, if you can’t control your emotions spilling out in to the chat box, then you probably don’t have the right temperament to be a successful poker player anyways.

In regards to the profanities, most sites will automatically censor them out. Not all do and it’s probably possible to get around the censoring if you really wanted to, but we ask you to please try and avoid cursing. It can be very offensive to some people, even if you don’t think anything of it.

Don’t Mention Cards You’ve Folded

Talking about cards you’ve folded while the hand is still active is something you need to avoid. Again, this isn’t just good etiquette but it’s typically something that’s covered in a site’s terms and conditions.

The reason why this is so important is because if you mention what cards you have folded while the rest of the hand is still playing out, then you’re giving away information that could help, or hinder, the remaining players. You could be affecting subsequent decisions and handing one or more of the players a big advantage. This is obviously not fair, so please make sure you don’t do it.

Use the Right Language

Most sites will have rules that state you can only chat in a specified language, typically English. If such a rule is in place at the site you’re playing at, then you really should stick to it. This might not seem like an issue, but it can be very unnerving for players that don’t understand what their opponents are saying. It can even make them feel uncomfortable enough to leave the table.

Don’t Tap the Glass

Berating or insulting seemingly weak players for making a bad play is known as tapping the glass or tapping the tank. This is a reference to the fact that weak players are sometimes referred to as fish. Not only is this obviously rude, it’s also counter-productive. Criticizing a weak player, assuming they actually are weak and not simply having a bad day at the tables, is likely to lead to one of two things happening.

The player may realize that they’re actually not very good at poker and decide that they really need to get better. They may then start learning about strategy and begin to improve as a player, which could ultimately hurt you in the long run. Alternatively, they may decide that they simply don’t want to play poker anymore and give up playing completely. Either way, it’s one less weak player at the tables and that’s not a good thing.

You want weak players playing poker, as they are the ones you have the best chance of winning money from.

It should be relatively obvious that your best chance of making a profit from playing poker is if you’re playing against opponents who are less skilled than you. Therefore, it obviously makes sense that you want to do everything you can to keep those players at your table for as long as possible. That aside, it’s common courtesy not to insult someone just because they aren’t as good as you.

Pay Attention & Keep the Pace Up

One of the biggest advantages of playing poker online is that the game moves much more quickly than when playing live. However, it can slow right down if players aren’t paying attention to what’s happening at the table and not noticing when it’s their turn to act. You should try and avoid being one of those players.

You don’t need to hurry your decisions, as you’re perfectly entitled to take time if you need it. Just try not to take an unnecessarily long amount of time either, especially on basic decisions. A slow game can frustrate everyone and maybe even make players leave the table. Very often the recreational players, those that you’re probably most likely to make money from are the ones most easily frustrated by a slow moving game.

Don’t Offer Unsolicited Advice

There really is no need for you to give out advice in the chat box to other players unless they specifically ask you for it. This is especially true if there’s a hand going on at the time and you’re giving advice to one of the players involved in it. Think about how you would feel if you had a strong hand and were waiting for a player to call your big bet, only for another player at the table to advise him against it. That simply is just not fair to anyone involved.

There’s also the question of why you would want to give out advice to other players anyway. If you have taken the time to learn some strategies and improve your playing skills, it makes little sense advise other players to do the same. The whole point of getting better at poker is to try and win money, and helping your opponents get better as well isn’t going to make that any easier.

If you have friends that are poker players and you want to help them improve, then offering them advice is fine and the same is true if you’re a member of a poker forum where strategy discussion is encouraged. However, giving out advice to players you’re playing against when they haven’t asked for it, is not roper etiquette.

Don’t Slowroll

Slowrolling is also seriously bad etiquette. If you’re not familiar with this term, it’s the act of taking a long time to call a bet or to reveal your hand at showdown when you know you’re ahead. It’s usually done by players with the express intention of annoying their opponent and it’s a practice that we suggest you avoid unless you specifically want to wind another player up and are happy to be considered a jerk.