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A Little Etiquette, Part 2

by Lou Krieger

 This is the second and final segment in our two-part series on poker etiquette. [Read Part 1]

 Discussing hands in play. Discussing your hand with others, even if you have released it and are no longer contesting that pot, may provide information that would give another player an unfair advantage. If you want to discuss a hand with a neighbor, wait until the hand is concluded.

 The verboten string-raise. Outside of the movies, no one ever says: “...Mighty big bet, cowboy. I’ll just see your twenty,” while reaching back into his stack for more chips, and with a long, lingering glance for effect, drawls, “...and raise you forty!”

 Calling a bet, then reaching back for more chips and announcing a raise is called a string raise. It is not permitted. Rest assured someone will shout “String raise!” The dealer then informs the hopeful raiser that a string raise just occurred, and he’ll have to take his raise back and simply call.

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

 How to raise. If you want to raise, just say “Raise.” Then you can go back to your stack and count out the proper amount of chips. If you want to let your action announce your intention, you must put the correct amount of chips into the pot, and do it all in one motion. Otherwise ... string raise.

 No splashing. You don’t want to splash the pot either. Don’t toss chips into the center of the table where they mingle with the others. Instead, stack your chips neatly on the table about eighteen inches in front of you. The dealer will pull them into the pot when the action has been completed on that round of betting.

 Time out. Anytime you are unsure of anything, the best procedure to follow is to call “Time!” This freezes the action. Then get your questions resolved, prior to acting. Decks and dealing. Dealers and decks generally rotate every half-hour. In addition, players unhappy with their run of cards are prone to holler, “Deck change!” Most card rooms permit a change once a deck has been in play for an entire round.

 How to get In a Game. When you enter a cardroom, you may see a white board full of players’ initials. These initials are listed under games that are available. For example, if you walk into a large casino you might find seven players ahead of you waiting for a $2-$4 hold’em game. Just give your initials to the board attendant and indicate the games you want to be listed for. You might say: “My initials are ABC. Put me up for the $2-$4, $3-$6, and $5-$10 hold’em, the $5-$10 stud, and the $4-$8 Omaha high-low split games.”

 That’s all there is to it. It’s as easy as taking a number at Ben and Jerry’s. Your initials will go up on the board for each game you request, and you’ll be called as seats become available.

 Buying Chips. When you first sit in the game, either the floorperson or dealer will ask you how much you want in chips. Each game has a minimum buy-in. Give him your money and you’ll get your chips. Large casinos have chip attendants. One of them will take your money, announce to the table that, “Seat five (or whatever seat you occupy) is playing $200 behind.”

 That means you bought in for $200, and the casino is in the process of fetching your chips. You can play that hand, even though your chips have not yet arrived. The dealer will either lend you some chips or keep count of how much you owe the pot. Your chips should arrive before that first hand is played to its conclusion. Use your chips wisely; poker’s more fun when you win.

 Visit Lou Krieger online at, where you can read his blog, and check out all of his books. Write directly to him at

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