New to playing poker? Probably not if you’re visiting this site, but you may be new to playing tournament poker, or may be unfamiliar with the rules of Tournament play or standard table etiquette. That’s one of the great things about playing with Posh Poker, you can sit down, play the game, and learn the ins and outs so that when you make it to a casino, you feel comfortable and can concentrate on your game, rather than making an embarrassing mistake.
With that said, I offer you a few things that new players may want to know.
- Tournament rules – Almost all tournaments use TDA (Tournament Directors Association) rules to govern their tournament as a guideline. But they also make modification to those rules. These are known as “House Rules”. It’s sometimes hard to familiarize yourself with those, but getting a start with the TDA rules will usually do you just fine. One notable change to TDA rules is the chip race rule. When coloring up chips, most local tournaments will “chip you up”. That is to say if you have a $100 chip, and the color-up is to $500 (all $100’s are being taken off the table), the director will give you a $500 for your $100. Whenever there’s a question or disagreement about a rule, just ask the TD. It’s always up to his/her discretion. You can find a version of the TDA rules by clicking here.
- Making bets – Betting is one of the most important parts of the game, and it’s also very important to bet properly else your bet won’t count the way you want it to.
- Announce your bet. If you do not announce a bet/raise, you open yourself up to problems. If, for example, you put 2 chips in in one motion, but intended to put 5 in, after the first motion ends, you are done with your bet. The reasoning is that you could be making a “String-bet” which is an unethical method of gaining information from your opponent. Therefore, announce your bet “$500”. Then you can put the chips in any method you wish, because the verbal bet is binding.
- Calling a bet. If you put one chip in the pot after a bet/raise has been announced, it is automatically a call unless a raise was announced. This is just standard, and will be enforced.
- Raising a bet – Standard raising suggests you need to bet at least as much as the last bet. This is not the same for all tournaments so be sure to check this house rule. It is *always* a requirement to bet at least the *big blind* when raising. If the blinds are $100/$200 then the minimum raise is to $400. The next raise minimum is technically to $600 since the last “bet” was $200 more… however, a double of the last bet is considered standard, so in this case to $800. (In No limit, there is hardly an argument for such a small bet).
- Place your bets in front of you. Don’t “Splash the pot”. It may seem cool to just throw the chips out, or appropriate for them to land with the rest of the chips, but the reality is that your chips need to be in front of you so that they can be counted. It’s important to verify the amount, otherwise you could just throw half the amount you were supposed to call in, and say it was the full amount. Don’t make anyone have to retrace the pot and all bets: keep your bets in front of you. Once all action has finished, the dealer will sweep all the chips into the pot.
- Showing your cards. There are rules about how and when you can or must show your cards during and after a hand. Some people are not aware of these rules, and they are different for Tournament games.
- If you are called down to the end of the hand, you *must* show your cards. The caller paid to see your hand. This is also to prevent a form of collusion called “chip-dumping”. While this rarely occurs, the rule should be enforced. Don’t be embarrassed… all of the best players are caught making a complete bluff from time to time.
- The flip-side to that rule is that the called person can also ask to see the callers cards should the caller decide to muck his cards. Many people don’t realize that rule exists, and can change depending on the house rules. When this rule exists, and the called hand is mucked on purpose, a penalty can be imposed.
- During a tournament, you are not allowed to expose one or both of your cards while action still exists. This is *not* the same for a ring/cash-game.
- The “Show one show all” rule states that if you show one person a card, or both cards, you must show everyone at the table the same. You do not have to show both cards. For example, after a person bets and everyone folds… that person may show the person next to him a single card. The rule is that the person must show everyone that card so as not to give any one person any informational advantage.
- Table talk – Poker is a social game, so there is a lot of talking going on. Believe it or not, some things are not allowed.
- You cannot tell people your hand while action still exists. This is the same whether you are in the hand or folded your hand. It’s a gray area whether you can “speculate”. Now, if the only action that is left is your action, and that the only action that is left is to call (where you can’t raise because it’s all-in), then you can talk aloud about your hand if you want. In all other cases you are sharing information that is inappropriate. You might be giving someone an information advantage that will act after you. Of if you are out of the hand and say “I folded a set!”, or even groan loudly you just told everyone else that you had a pair that matched the board, or that some of those cards shouldn’t be feared anymore.
- Be friendly. I think this is obvious, we’re all playing a game we love, and want to keep it enjoyable for everyone. So even if someone makes what you think is a bad call or bet, be gracious. It’s their right to play any way they wish.
There are of course many other aspects of Poker etiquette, and other poker rules. We all pick them up as we go along, but the items above come from the most frequent questions, or the most frequent mistakes I see come up at a poker table. I hope this helps you! Good luck at the tables!