Play nice and win big
There's a fine line between being rude or oblivious and actually breaking the rules in poker. On the other hand, some players may get so concerned with being polite that they refrain from maximizing their edge. In this post, I'll go over a number of things that may confuse you--from nit rolling to acting in turn.
Don't talk about your cards (or turn them over) when there are other players in the hand
Players starting out in poker often forget that when they have folded, they must still stay mum about holdings or hand strength until the hand is over for the entire table. To take an extreme example, if you fold a ten and the flop comes TTT, slapping your forehead and saying "I would have hit quads" is an unacceptable reaction.
Accidentally flipping over holdings while the hand is still in progress is a definite no-no. At a side event in the Borgata Fall Open, an extremely snug gentleman in early position had four-bet with two players left to act. The first player thought for a while and folded Ace-King face-up. The second player was also holding ace-king and was planning to call before the face-up fold. Now he had a tough choice, because two of his outs were missing, turning AK from 45% against an underpair to 33%. Not so close to a coinflip anymore! He ended up folding face-up.
On a side note, talking about the cards you had during or even right after usually shows serious players at the table that you're results oriented and may not be a particularly fearsome opponent. For instance, at my Day 1 WSOP Main Event table a guy in his late twenties and wearing shades sat down to my left and started talking about online poker with Adam Junglen, to his left. The initial clues pointed to a solid player. Then for the next three hands he explained how he would have flopped a boat and a flush had he played hands such as Q6o and 93s. I quickly altered my estimation of this player's strength and it turned out that I was correct to do so.
In many tournaments, especially close to the bubble or in satellites, there are possibilities for players to collude. Things that may seem harmless, upon further reflection, are cheating. For instance, in a live satellite I played recently one short-stacked player told another: "How about we just check it down?" By reducing the chances that either short stack gets eliminated, it hurts the value for all other short stacks in the tournaments, who are presumably not colluding.
Inexperienced players may believe that in the heat of the moment, they are "being nice," but the case above is cheating, pure and simple.
If you value your future in a card room, online or live, it's very unwise to risk something like this. PokerStars in particular is known as the leader in detecting cheating and collusion so if you suspect foul play, you should call a moderator or email support.
Act in turn
You may not think it matters if you fold out of turn, but it actually influences the action--i.e. a player to your right may open a marginal holding that he would have folded if you hadn't folded out of turn. Unless you're about to wet your pants (also poor etiquette!), please wait your turn to toss your cards in the muck.
A slowroll is when a player takes an inordinately long amount of time to turn over his or her cards, with the nuts or close to it, even though he or she is closing the action. Slowrolls can be preflop or postflop. For instance, if a player in early position goes all in and the big blind time banks, or in a live tournament, thinks for over a minute, only to flip over aces, this is considered a slowroll.
It's important to remember that a slowroll does not apply when the player does not close the action. For instance, if you were on the button in the scenario above, depending on table dynamics, you may want to think for some length of time, because the blinds may still decide to join the fray. Still, I would rarely think super long in that spot--an extremely long tank can arouse suspicions of perceptive players.
To "nitroll" is a term for an unintentional slowroll. This can happen for a variety of reasons. Perhaps a player is really thinking about the hand. Maybe she is sure she intends to call but is just dazed. Nitrolling is not something that should be too harshly criticized, as it often just means that your opponent is not experienced enough to know a hand should be a snap-call. If a "nitroll" knocks you out of the tournament, take it in stride and remember that no harm was intended.
Getting unlucky in poker, especially deep in a tournament, is frustrating. Many players react to this with rude comments in the chatbox, sometimes even following players for several orbits. If you ever feel tempted to do this yourself, try to find a friend to vent to instead. Negative consequences of abusive insults include revoking chat privileges.
Angry players often feel regret later for losing their cool. I met a woman in person who had gone off on me when I won a hand all-in-preflop with K-Q against her A-Q in a PokerStars Women event. It seemed really awkward for her.
Many professional players refrain from insulting players at the table, but let loose on bad players at their tables on Twitter, a public forum. Pros should be happy to play against recreational players, making the stream of rude tweets not only lame but also mystifying.
Players sometimes ridicule opponents to regain confidence, especially when running bad. It can also display to possible backers and potential sponsors that despite not cashing in a particular tournament, a player is still a good investment. If you plan to say a lot of things on Twitter that you wouldn't say to a player's face, you may consider "locking" your Twitter feed. When you lock your Twitter, you have to approve each follower.
I hope these tips help you reflect on what sort of activities are rude, those that are all in the game, and those that are unacceptable. Remember that if you are ever in doubt, you can call a moderator on PokerStars, or the floor in a live event.
Some fantastic news for last
PokerStars Women is offering three special Women's Sunday promotions to celebrate PokerStars 10th Anniversary. On December 4th, all Women's Sunday players will receive a free ticket to the 10th Anniversary Sunday Storm Special on December 11. And all players who make the Women's Sunday final table on December 11 will receive a ticket to the 10th Anniversary $10M Sunday Million on December 18.
Finally, the winner of the December 18 Women's Sunday will receive a PS Women Live PCA package! Do the math here please--PokerStars is offering thousands of dollars in overlays.
Good luck and remember to play nice!