(Distributed June 6, 2006)
BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU SAY DURING A POKER GAME
Watch what you say at the poker table. Your words could cost you a little embarrassment, a big pot, or even a forced exit!
For example, most card rooms have rules against certain language during a game. There are some words — I think you know which ones — that can trigger a warning from the dealer. Repeated nasty talk will earn you an early cash-out at the cage and an escort from the room.
I know, I know. When you have a really big hand and some yahoo who should have folded steals a huge pot away from you with some miracle card at the end, the first words that pop into your head aren’t, “Congratulations, sir, that was a very nice hand.” Delete those expletives. Spouting off won’t change the outcome.
Poker room managers know verbal misbehavior is bad for business, so most police it aggressively. Fortunately, it doesn’t happen often.
You also can get yanked from a game if you excessively bad-mouth a dealer, even without using cuss words. Again, this doesn’t occur often. Dealers are accustomed to an occasional wisecrack, but many won’t tolerate inappropriate needling and abuse. Nor should they have to.
More common than harsh-language episodes, though, is the trouble players cause by saying the wrong things during the course of a hand.
Did you know, for instance, that in a tournament you can lie to your opponents about what cards you hold, but you can’t speak the truth? That’s correct. You can get a 10-minute penalty for honestly telling another player what you have before final betting is complete.
If a player asks what you’re holding, he’s trying to get a read on the strength of your hand by enticing you to speak. He’s looking for a “tell.” Either say nothing and put on your best poker face, or say something like, “I’ve got a monster.” I usually just say, “I forgot.”
Words also can trip you up when it’s your turn to act. Verbal declarations are binding, so you must be careful what you say.
A good example happens with newer players wishing to raise. Often they’ll say, “I’ll call your bet, and raise you…” Seems legit, right? After all, they’ve heard that dramatically delivered phrase over and over in old poker movies.
That doesn’t work in card rooms today, however. As soon as you utter “I call…”, that’s all you can do. The dealer won’t allow a raise. The rule, especially in no-limit poker, is designed to prevent the bettor from getting an initial reaction out of an opponent, which might indicate how big of a raise to make. Plus, it simplifies things.
Here’s how to avoid problems when it’s your turn to act:
* If no one has bet, and you don’t want to bet either, just say “check” or tap the felt twice in plain sight of the dealer and the other players. It’s bad etiquette to muck your hand in this situation. Folding instead of checking is unfair because it could alter the decisions of players behind you.
* If someone bets and you want to fold, just slide your hole cards gently facedown about halfway between you and the dealer. You don’t have to say anything, but it’s OK to say “I fold” if you wish. Be careful not to expose your discards to any other player.
* If you want to call a bet, just put the required number of chips about six inches in front of you for everyone to see. Don’t toss them into the pot; the dealer will pull bets in after everyone has acted. If you set out the exact number of chips to make the call, you don’t have to say anything. If you set out an oversized chip expecting change back, say “I call” to avoid confusion.
* Finally, here’s the tricky one — If you want to raise, just say “I raise” before doing anything else. Then place enough chips in front of you to cover the previous bet and your raise. In a structured-limit game such as $3-$6 hold’em, if you are the first raiser, you must double the initial bet. For example, if someone bets $6 on the river (final community card), it costs you $12 to raise. After you act, if another player wants to raise he must put in $18.
In a no-limit game, you can raise any amount or even go all-in for all of your chips. At a minimum, you must double the previous bet or raise. Let’s say a no-limit player bets $5 and the next player raises it $20 to a total bet of $25. If another player also wants to raise, the smallest amount he can raise is $20, for a new total bet of $45. Easy, huh?
Today’s message, then: Your poker experiences will be more enjoyable if you choose your words at the table carefully!
E-mail your poker questions and comments to email@example.com for use in future columns. To find out more about Russ Scott and read previous LuckyDog Poker columns, visit www.creators.com.
COPYRIGHT 2006 RUSS SCOTT
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