Poker Etiquette & Basic Poker Rules

The Basics of Poker Etiquette

Call the following rules, conventions, or poker etiquette, these are some basic guidelines that are common in all types of poker games, especially poker in card clubs or casinos all of which have house rules to abide by.

While you may find some minor rule variations from one poker room to another, many card casinos are striving toward a uniform set of guidelines and rules to standardize poker.

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Going all-in

If you don’t have enough chips on the table to cover the current bets and raises for the hand and you stay in the hand, you are going all-in, and are simply only in for that portion of the pot your chips fully cover.

Others active players can still make their bets, but those wagers form a separate side-pot. At the conclusion of the hand , the winner of the side-pot is decided first using the highest poker ranked hand, then the main pot. You are not entitled to win the side pot since you invested no money in it, but you can win the main pot for which you have already covered with you bets. You can however buy-in for more chips or put more money on the table between hands.
Poker players with the limited chip supply or cash on the table go all-in – by calling with the remainder of their remaining chips.

If the all-in player loses, he either buys in for more chips or leaves the game.

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String-raises are forbidden
Calling a bet, then reaching back for more chips and announcing a raise is called a string raise. It is not permitted. Someone will shout “String raise!” The poker dealer then informs the hopeful player that a string-raise just occurred, and he’ll have to take his raise back and can only call.

Now, if someone shouts “String raise!” and another player says “That’s OK. Let his raise stand” be assured your hand is in big trouble – real big trouble!

The string-raise rule prevents a player from reading the spontaneous reactions of his opponents while he puts some chips in the pot, then deciding to raise if he thinks he’s got nuts.

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How to raise properly

If you want to raise the pot, just announce “Raise.” when its your turn, Then you can go back to your stack and count out the required amount of chips. If you want to let your action
announce your intention, you usually must put the correct amount of chips into the pot, and all in one motion. Otherwise . . . it’s a string raise.

No splashing

Avoid splashing the pot, Don’t toss your chips into the center of the table where they mix with the others and the dealer and players will not know for sure how much you just put in. Instead, stack your chips neatly on the table
about 20 inches in front of you. The dealer will then pull them into the pot when the action has been completed on that betting round.

If it’s your first time playing in a public poker cardroom, tell the dealer so he can help you through the basics of the game. After a few poker sessions, you will be more familiar and comfortable with the majority of playing procedures and rules.

Soon you will feel like a regular.

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Hand Protection & Cards speak

Unlike many informal poker games, in an established poker room you are always responsible for your cards and poker
hand. If you toss it into muck (the pile of discarded cards), your hand is automatically folded and cannot win the pot. Another rule in all card-rooms is that your cards speak – your poker-hand is worth whatever value the cards you possess have.

Dealers, however, can make mistakes when recognizing cards.

If you think yours is the best hand on the flop, turn your cards face up and announce what you have. Place it about half-way between your chips and the pot, and hold on to it while the dealer determines the outcome of the hand.

If you are unsure whether your hand is the best hand or not, turn all of your cards face-up at the end of the hand and allow the dealer to read your hand and determine what you have.

If you are in a poker club or casino and there is a doubt , even after hand is over, casino security cameras can review the hands to determine the winner.

Table stakes

Most poker games are table stakes. Meaning you cannot add
chips or money to the amount in front of you during the duration of the hand. If you run out of money or chips during a hand, you can contest only that portion of the pot that your bets can cover. You cannot pull more money out of your wallet, as you might do in a home-poker-game. You can however always add more money to your stake between hands. (see ALL IN)


Anytime you are unsure of something the best thing to do is to call “Time!” This stops all the action. Then get answers to your questions resolved prior to your next move. Poker-etiquette suggests that you not abuse this procedure, especially
if you are in a game where you are charged a fixed fee for sitting at the table.

Poker players usually want a fast, efficiently run poker game, with as few interruptions as possible so you would make a lot of enemies quickly.

Decks and Dealing Rules

Dealers, decks of cards, normally rotate every half-hour depending on where you play poker. Players have the right to call for a “Deck change!” some poker-card-rooms permit a deck change once a deck has been in play for an entire round.

Some finer points of Poker Etiquette

Poker rules and etiquette are in place in order to speed the poker games along and keep them orderly.

These rules are nearly as much a part of the game as the deck of cards.

When you play casino-poker for the first time, poker-etiquette may take a little more time getting used to than the poker game itself.

Keep in mind the following points of poker protocol:
  • Act in turn: Each player is expected to act in turn as the game proceeds clockwise around the poker table. If someone else bets and you plan to discard/fold your hand, wait until your turn to act before doing so. Not only is acting out of turn considered rude, it also gives an advantage to one of your opponents.
  • If he knows you will fold your hand, it makes it easier for him to bluff, and is unfair to the rest of the players on the table. In poker games as in most things, it’s considered polite to wait until it’s your turn.
  • Avoid discussing hands in play: Discussing your hand with others players, even if you have folded and are no longer contesting the pot, it may provide information that could give another player on the table an unfair advantage.
  • If you want to discuss your hand with a neighbor, wait until the poker hand is completed.
  • Keep your cards on the table: it is very important for players to keep their cards visible and on the table during the play of the poker hand.
  • The best way to protect your hand is to keep it on the table, and look at the cards by covering them with your hands while carefully lifting a corner of each card to peek at it.
  • In poker games like Texas Hold’em players only have two cards in front of them, it is normal to leave them on the table after looking and to place a chip or lucky charm on top of them. This tells the dealer that your hand is still in play and you will not be mistakenly skipped.
  • Practice tipping (toking): Tipping the poker dealer is customary whenever you win a pot.
  • In pokerĀ casinos, tokes/tips make up most (nearly all) of the dealer’s income.
  • The size of the pot and the poker-game’s betting-limits generally determine the amount of the tip. If you’re a new casino poker player, see what other players are tipping as a guide.
  • In poker games with higher betting limits of $10-$20 or higher, a dollar is a typical toke for all but the smallest of pots.
  • In smaller poker games, tokes of fifty cents are the norm
  • Always obey the poker house rules.

The way poker hands are ranked

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Basic Poker Rules