The Unspoken Law of Poker

Poker is a deeply social game. Whether you’re playing round a mate’s table, in a major big money game or you’re sitting at home playing online poker; the social aspect of the game is one of those things that turns a quick card game into a thoroughly enjoyable night for everyone playing. But if you’re thinking of maybe playing a few hands at a brick and mortar casino it’s well worth your while to know about the one unwritten rule of Poker when it comes to chatting amongst your fellow players. It is absolutely vital that you don’t talk about the current hand.

Maybe vital is a bit strong, but it’s considered by quite a lot of people a faux pas. The big reason is that it can too often lead to players being influenced by discussion around them and the fundamental precept of “One player to a hand” is a vital part of playing the game. So, if you fold with a king and a five, see two kings come up and shout “Oh blast it, I folded with my king!”, then you’ve broken the rule. This is bad for a couple of reasons; the biggest issue is that if someone else is playing with a king they NOW know that they have the last one. And if someone was planning to bluff they had it, that’s now out the window. By providing information the players couldn’t have had on their own, it’s altered the flow of the game. That’s not to say you can’t bluff, bluffing is a part of the game after all, but most casinos will frown on bluffing where you loudly proclaim how bad your hand is while pushing chips into the centre of the table.

While this rule seems easy enough to follow, the line is actually blurrier than you might expect- for instance, if you can’t quite see what a card is on the table and have to ask what it is then it’s totally legitimate to get it confirmed by asking someone. Equally, if someone has to ask details like what the minimum bet is because they need to know, it’s totally valid even if it leads to a shift in the table based on the question. Or if you spot a player make an illegal move like flash their cards or bet an illegal amount, you have to make sure the dealer saw it- even if it means drawing attention to the hand and potentially influencing the decisions of other players. There are all sorts of different variations where you can talk around what the cards are that aren’t technically violations but it’s best to steer clear of getting involved if you hear this chat coming up.

The best tactic is probably to resist temptation and just talk about something completely unrelated, maybe ask what your fellow players saw last at the cinema or their favourite meal at a local restaurant, anything that draws your talk away from the cards so you can focus yourself on just playing your hand. Of course, every game will vary so take it with a pinch of salt, just make sure you aren’t the first one to bring up the flop and you’ll probably be alright.