Etiquette: the customary code of polite behavior in society or among members of a particular profession or group.
When I’m grinding hands for the Beast, I normally am sitting at one empty table to get more games started. Typically what happens is someone finally joins me, we play heads up for about 5 minutes, and then the table fills up within 60 seconds of a third person joining. Then I sit at another empty table…
Last month, another grinder was often the second player at my tables. He once typed to me, “I don’t mean to always take the seat to your immediate left. For some reason the site seems to seat me there quite often.” I replied, “Well, good for you if you do grab that seat.” But, he seemed to think that was poor etiquette. I disagree.
Years back I spent time thinking about etiquette’s place at a poker table. I joined two people at a 6-max table, and I received the “hu pls.” I replied, “lol.” If you want to play heads up, go sit at a heads up table. There’s an open chair here, I plan on playing. Now, I did type to the second player, “Would you like to only play heads up as well?” I thought I could honor the request if that’s what they both wanted to do. The second player didn’t respond and continued to play, so I stayed—despite the first player’s tirade. Even so, I wouldn’t think my behavior discourteous if I chose to remain at the table despite both their wishes. Again, it’s a 6-max table, you don’t want to play 6-max, sit somewhere else.
The nature of poker is exploitation. I find difficulty meshing etiquette and exploitation. As long as we operate inside the same rules (i.e. no cheating), I see nothing wrong with virtually any action at a poker table. I can empathize—at least— with being quiet at a live poker table when other people are making difficult decisions. I think that’s common courtesy. However, tactics like consistently sitting to a good player’s left or finding tables with unskilled opponents are simply good poker decisions. When you make more of those quality decisions than your opponents in the same player pool, you put yourself in a position to take more money from that pool than they do. Isn’t that what poker is all about?
I’m not sure how to draw concrete lines. I don’t think “do unto others” is a rule of thumb that applies at a poker table. I’m currently unable to give a logical reason why I respect quietness during someone’s decision at a live table. Sure, I’d like other players to do the same for me…not a big deal for me really, though. Maybe being noisy would upset my opponent and cause him to play poorly against me. I don’t know…I’d love to hear other’s thoughts on etiquette and poker.
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