Things not to do at the poker table



When you’re a recurring presence in your home poker room, people get to know you and some may look up to you. It’s extremely important to become a role model for aspiring pros and avoid being a pariah. Here’s how:

DON’T BERATE PLAYERS: I’ve harped on this before, but I believe in it so much. There’s absolutely no good reason to berate players. Control yourself and act like an adult, and say “nice hand,” ironically.

DON’T YELL AT THE DEALER: You became a pro, remember? You clearly understand variance and that a dealer has nothing to do with that, right? Oh, and if you’ve ever thrown cards at a dealer, just quit poker. Save your ire for dealers with a bad attitude.

SHOW YOUR CARDS AT SHOWDOWN: Yeah, I get it. You want the most information possible. Causing a standoff by refusing to show your cards “until it’s your turn” only hurts your game and your bottom line, and you’ll gain little information. If the floor ever needs to get involved, you are 100 percent in the wrong. Remember, you’re the pro.

STOP WHINING: Invariably, during every session you play, will gripe about not seeing a beverage server for 45 minutes. They were there and you weren’t paying attention. How is this possible? Well, you’re a pro so you’re watching the game at all times and trying to gain information. Unless a server happened to come by during the shuffle, you were busy.

DON’T SAY DEALER: Every dealer has a name tag. If you need to address them, use it to discover their secret identity. If you can’t ascertain it, use something else to get their attention. The way you’re saying it is derogatory and it’s often followed up with a suggestion on how they do their job.

DON’T TANK: Tanking has gotten slightly better, but tanking is an absolute epidemic to which you should not contribute. Once one person has annoyed the table with a tank, it will entice a reciprocal tank and eventually you’re playing six hands an hour. There will be, once in a blue moon, a decision that requires you to take a while to think. Apologize to the table and take your time. Don’t tank for tank’s sake.

DON’T YELL ACROSS THE ROOM: If you feel the need to celebrate after a win, you’re not a pro. Running around the room “One time!” (Of course, you didn’t even say that until after the river card came out, which is clearly not how it works.) when you win a pot makes you the butt of every joke in the room for five minutes. Stop it.

— Brent Philbin is a poker pro who lives in South Florida. You can reach him at

Ante Up Magazine

Ante Up Magazine