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Poker Etiquette

For many new players, learning the unwritten rules of poker is as vital to your early enjoyment of the game as your mastery of strategy and actual gameplay. In poker, as in golf, playing the game with the appropriate etiquette will earn you the respect of your peers (think Arnold Palmer); not doing so will earn you their disapproval (think Happy Gilmore :) To assist in your enjoyment of the game, we humbly suggest the following tips to ensure your next game of poker is played in a manner enjoyable to both yourself and your fellow players.

1. Play at a reasonable rate of speed
Let's face it - some hands require a good deal of careful deliberation. No one will fault you for that. However, consistently slow play by one player, especially when that player is playing more than one table at a time, will earn the ire of the rest of the players in the game. As much as possible, keep things moving.

2. Be polite
Not only does exemplary sportsmanship make for an enjoyable poker game, it can actually improve your game. Poker is a game of concentration and emotional restraint. Losing control can put you on tilt in a hurry and is a sure sign to the other players at the table that you're not playing well.

3. Play when it is your turn
Folding your hand or leaving your seat before it is your turn to bet should be avoided as much as possible as it reveals important information to players still in the hand.

4. Don't reveal your cards before the showdown
Like playing out of turn, revealing your cards prematurely may reveal important information to the other players and can potentially affect the outcome of a hand. Keep your cards hidden and you'll retain the air of mystery essential for successful bluffing later on.

5. Don't remove chips from the table
Although it's tempting to pocket a big chunk of chips when you're winning, proper poker etiquette obliges you to leave all of your chips on the table until you leave the game for good.

6. Stay quiet if you're not in the hand
In a strategic game like poker, outside commentary is not appreciated. Your opinions, your suggestions, even your body language can affect the decisions of the remaining players considering their options. Watch and learn and you're sure to pick up on a tell you can exploit in a later hand.

8. Do not "splash the pot"
When you are making a bet, place your chips neatly in front of you in easily countable stacks within the dealer's reach and let the dealer pull them into the pot. Players who toss chips into the middle run the risk of having to put more in if the other players are unable to tell how many chips were originally thrown into the pot.

9. Don't offer or ask for help from other players
Two or more players discussing a hand is a definite no-no in poker. If you have questions, ask the dealer, and never lie about your hand.

10. Do not "slow roll" your cards
Taking your time to reveal a winning hand so as to taunt the other players at the table is the epitome of poor sportsmanship. The poker table is no place for your end zone dance ;)

12. Let the dealer read your hand if you're unsure
If you're an inexperienced player confused by the hand you have, it's acceptable to lay your cards on the table to let the dealer figure out where your hand ranks. However, this should only be done as a last resort and not on an ongoing basis.

14. Showing all of your cards
If you win a pot uncontested and decide to show your cards to another player, proper poker etiquette insists that you must show everyone at the table the cards you folded.

Remember, you can beat the odds, but you can't beat the percentages.
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