Don't Do Anything That Interferes with Fair Play

Many of the formal rules of poker enforce fair play, but there are many things a player could do, perhaps unwittingly, that could taint a good hand. Most of these infractions involve revealing information that other players normally wouldn't have.

One example occurs frequently in community card games like Hold'em. Suppose your two starting cards are Jh and 6s. You fold before the flop, as this and any other poker book will recommend. The flop comes up Jd-Js-6d, meaning that you would have flopped a full house if you had stayed in. If after the flop, you say something like, "Damn it, I folded a boat!" you are basically telling the rest of the players what you had in your hand. In fact, if you so much as wince, grimace, or sigh on a flop like Jd-Js-6d, you are giving the other players a fairly obvious clue about what you folded.

Why does this interfere with fair play? Because the remaining players in the hand are now pretty sure that a jack is out of the deck, and while every player has the same opportunity to pick this up, the information very likely benefits some more than others. Think of a player who stuck around with a Jc-9c. Normally, he would have to be concerned that his trip jacks could be beaten by someone with jacks full or three jacks with a higher kicker. But now that he knows you folded a jack, he knows he's the only player that has one, and he can bet much more aggressively than he would have otherwise, which costs his opponents money, all because you couldn't keep a poker face after the flop. After a while, these "I-would-have-had" stories become banalities that aren't worth a second thought.

Three other guidelines in this area are:

1.Do not act out of turn. When you do, you inequitably alter the effects of position in the game by providing information on your intentions to players who shouldn't have it. Try not to accidentally expose your cards when you fold them. This is particularly important in Stud: Don't turn over your hole cards when you fold! 2.Don't make commentary about the hand while it is in progress. For example, in Omaha, don't proclaim the fact that the river card enabled a low; it is the responsibility of each player to recognize things like that. Also, despite the prevalence of the custom, there is no reason to announce the possibilities of each player's hand as you deal Stud. 3.Never give advice during a hand. If you are out of the pot and another player wants to show you his cards, you can look at them, but you shouldn't say anything until the hand is over. And you should make sure that everyone else gets to see the same cards when the hand is complete. Show one, show all.

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