- Messy Chip Stacks
- Talking Strategy
- Talking Politics
- Whistling/Humming a Tune
- Poor Hygiene
- Excessive Tanking
- “Could’ve, Would’ve, Should’ve”
- Getting Angry About Losing
- Not Paying Attention
- Telling Bad Beats Stories
- Excessive Use of Emojis
- Rubbing in a Win
- Discussing Hands When Others Are Still Playing
- Drunk Players
- Always Limping/Shoving
Anyone who’s played live poker knows the habits of particular people make the game far less enjoyable for everyone involved – the kind of thing that makes you want to get up and change tables. As it’s the New Year, we should resolve to be better tablemates to our opponents, as it not only creates a welcoming environment for new players but it helps them stick around longer for you to take all their money! We’ve polled our social media audience to find out which poker pet peeves tick you off the most, and this is what we found (in no particular order).
And, by the way, if you see yourself in any of these pet peeves, consider making a change, for all our sake.
Messy Chip Stacks
There’s nothing worse than when you’re trying to figure out how much a player has behind, and their stacks are in uneven piles, all mixed in together. It’s virtually impossible to be able to count in any reasonable amount of time, which slows the game down as the player has to sit there counting out their dirty stack.
If you want to make the game run smoother, keep your chips in separate stacks of ten or twenty, depending on how many you have. This makes it easy for someone to glance over and see roughly how much you have. It’s not going to hurt your win rate for your opponents to see how many chips you have, so do the decent thing and stack them properly.
We get it, you’ve just read some of Natural8’s great strategy articles, and you’re excited to share what you’ve learned with the table – but honestly, it’s best to keep it to yourself! Talking strategy at the tables can be intimidating to new players who may not even know there’s a strategy to poker. At best, you’re educating your opponents and making them better, and at worst, you’re scaring them away. So, try to steer the conversation away from things like blockers and EV and towards things that aren’t about poker.
However, just because you shouldn’t talk about poker strategy at the table doesn’t mean that you have the green light to talk about anything. People come to play poker to relax and forget about the world’s problems; they don’t come to hear your three-hour lecture about why whatever political party you don’t like is evil. Even if you’re looking for an earnest conversation about the morals of politics, trust me, no one else is, so save that for your friends.
Whistling/Humming a Tune
Oh yes, people will actually sit at a poker table and whistle/hum to themselves! Even if you’re an excellent whistler, we’d rather hear what the other players at the table are saying than whatever tune is stuck in your head. Few things are more off-putting when you’re trying to decide whether or not to call the river than someone sitting next to you whistling “Oh, What A Night” in your ear; trust me, I know.
We can’t believe that we have to have this conversation in 2023, but there are still people who show up to the poker room with poor hygiene. Look, times may be tough, but that’s no excuse for not showering, washing your clothes, or putting on some deodorant. It’s easy to become unaware of just how bad things really are and not even realise that your hygiene is off-putting to your tablemates.
Our advice is to always be on the safe side; have a shower, wear clean clothes, and put on deodorant before going to any poker game.
If you’re not playing at the WSOP Main Event final table for millions of dollars, you don’t have to slowly agonise over every decision like it could be the difference between paying off your mortgage or not. If you’re playing a live cash game where the stakes aren’t in the triple digits, there’s no need to tank so long over every decision.
Players who excessively tank slow the game down, reducing the number of hands you get per hour and, thus, reducing your win rate. If you’re someone who likes to tank, just think of how much more you could be making per hour if you saw an extra 4-5 hands. By all means, think about what you do, but keep it to a reasonable limit.
“Could’ve, Would’ve, Should’ve”
Look, no one cares that you “would have made a full house with 72o if only you had just called that preflop 4bet”, so shut up about it! Poker is a game with so many interconnecting variables that you could play the “could’ve, would’ve, should’ve” game for hours. We don’t care that you could’ve won the pot if you raised bigger pre, we don’t care that you would’ve made a flush if you called the turn bet, and we certainly don’t care that you should’ve bet smaller to get called when you had the nuts – so keep it to yourself.
Getting Angry About Losing
Losing at poker can be tough to take. You make all the right decisions, only for some fish to hit a one outer against you on the river and clean you out. It’s only natural to feel a little upset and angry at that point. However, that does not give you an excuse to show it at the tables.
No one wants to play with someone who starts throwing a tantrum when they lose. It creates an unpleasant atmosphere, and people would rather not play at all than have to play in a game where they’re scared of winning because of what might happen. Being angry with everyone isn’t going to change the outcome; it will just make people hate you, so be an adult and handle your loss with dignity.
Not Paying Attention
There’s nothing worse than having one player at the table who always has to be reminded that it’s their turn to act. Whether they’re watching the game on the big screen, admiring the casino floor, or off in their own little world, constantly telling someone it’s their turn to act is incredibly frustrating.
It slows the game down dramatically for everyone else who’s actually invested and just shows a lack of respect for the other players at the table. If you really don’t care about the game, get up and let someone else take your seat.
This one is considered by many to be so bad that it would go beyond a pet peeve into the realm of downright rudeness. For those who aren’t aware, slowrolling is the act of making your opponent think they have the winning hand at showdown by delaying showing them the winning hand. Unlike slowplaying, slowrolling offers no strategic edge and is a purely disrespectful act against your opponent.
While some people don’t have any issue with slowrolling, you’ll find that the majority of players do, so unless you want to be “asked outside”, just don’t do it.
Telling Bad Beats Stories
Poker is a game that is full of luck; some of it bad, some of it good. It’s inevitable that, eventually, you’re going to run into some bad luck at the tables, but for the love of god, don’t make that everyone else’s problem. Look, buddy, we all go through the same thing, your bad beats aren’t special. No one wants to hear them. It just brings everyone down at the table and makes them think you’re self-centred, so keep the bad beat stories for your long-suffering partners/friends.
While we’re on the subject of talking, a bit of friendly conversation is nice at the table, but no one wants to be sat next to someone talking their ear off all night. There’s a line that you can cross where being friendly becomes outright annoying. As nice as it is to learn about the people you’re playing with, we don’t need to hear your whole life story. So, the next time you think about regaling the table about the ins and outs of your child’s latest piano recital or your most recent dental appointment, why not try keeping it to yourself?
Excessive Use of Emojis
This is one that the online players among you can relate to; it’s so annoying when someone at your table is constantly spamming emojis in the chat – especially if you’re actually trying to have a conversation with someone else. Using emojis every few seconds accomplishes nothing other than to alert the other players at the table that you’re not interested in the game and are only interested in playing with the chat box. Thank god for the “Block Chat” option; that’s all I can say.
Rubbing in a Win
Congratulations, you’ve won a pot; good for you! While enjoying your victory is fine, it’s best done silently and respectfully. Rubbing in your win against the player who just lost or the table in general is a great way to put a target on your own back. Not only that, it’s just plain rude. You can get away with shouting “In your face!” when you play online, but in the real world, that won’t fly. All you need to do is stack your chips and think to yourself how nice it was to win the pot.
Discussing Hands When Others Are Still Playing
This one goes beyond the point of a pet peeve and into collusion territory, but believe it or not, there are still people who will discuss the hand while people are still playing! Listen, you’re not whispering as quietly as you think you are; everyone at the table can hear that the hand you folded would have made a full house! This is vital information that changes how the hand is played, and as such, no one should discuss anything about the hand until it’s over – and ideally, not even then! We don’t want to hear what you had, what you should have done, or what you think the other players have got; just keep your thoughts to yourself.
There’s no one luckier and more annoying than the drunk guy at the table. They constantly need to be told when it’s their turn, their chip stacks are a mess, and they’re making the most erratic plays imaginable. And what’s worse is they’re winning while they do it! It’s frustrating to see someone slow up the game so much and make the experience worse for everyone else while somehow always getting there.
The only thing that makes them tolerable is the fact that you know something’s got to give at some point, and you need to be there to collect it when it happens. Even so, being around drunk people when you’re sober is never fun, and the same applies at the poker table.
You know the players, they’re the ones who always think they’re playing a short stack in a tournament, even if they’re sitting 100bb deep in a cash game. The kind of player who only wants to see a flop if the turn and river are guaranteed to come out afterwards. These players can be annoying to play against if you’re looking to have some fun and play some postflop poker, as they never let you see a flop without paying for it. At least you can console yourself with the fact that you can pick off their stack once you pick up a strong enough hand.
Wouldn’t it be great to live in a world where none of these things happened at the poker table? While we’re sure there are many more pet peeves that could be added to this list, these are the ones we singled out as the worst offenders. If any of these hit too close to home, the whole poker world would appreciate it if you could make a change for the better.