What Poker Etiquette Can Teach Us for Everyday Life

The game of poker might appear on the surface as if it requires a specific set of non-transferable skills, yet the importance of etiquette within the game ensures that there are everyday-life lessons to be gleaned from poker. While terms like folding and raising mean very different things in the context of poker in comparison to regular situations, there are facets of poker that can be taken into all aspects of life.

Here are three examples of how poker etiquette can be deployed in a variety of situations.

Show respect to others

If a player can maintain a high level of respect during an intense game of poker, the chances are that they can similarly display an appropriate level of consideration for others in everyday situations. All fans of sport look to their role models to gain an idea of how to behave, so athletes in competitive situations owe it to generations of fans to demonstrate dignity and respect whether in victory or defeat.

Poker shares many characteristics with sport, so its players are likewise expected to act respectfully whatever the outcome. This can be difficult given how quickly things can change in poker; one bad hand can alter a player’s entire situation, while that hand can come from nowhere to ruin what was a good run.

It is important that poker players don’t respond to a bad hand by taking it out on the dealer. The acts of the dealer have no bearing on what cards a player receives, so it is very much a case of shooting the messenger. No dealer wants to be berated by an angry player, in the same reason that no bus driver wants to be shouted at for a late service or no waiter wants to be yelled at for bringing out subpar food.

Whether winning or losing, showing respect to opponents is essential.

Unleashing a tirade at individuals in that manner achieves nothing productive. If there is a genuine concern then that discussion should be held with someone who can change the situation, whether it is the chef in a restaurant or a floor manager in a casino. A poker player has extra incentive to maintain their cool; showing their frustration might imply that they are about to make rash decisions, allowing their opponents to capitalize.

Learn how to behave online

The online environment can sometimes cause people to forget that there are real-life people sat at the other end of a screen. The rise of social media has spawned armies of keyboard warriors, individuals who feel liberated by the online setting to criticize others without fear of repercussion. Poker players should use the online chat functions in a conscientious manner. Sending too many messages or exclusively using capital letters can distract other players from their all-important thought processes, while it can also be easy to type an insulting comment in a heated moment.

Users of social media will see such comments on an almost daily basis. Platforms like Twitter are great in giving an insight into the daily life of role models, but it also gives individuals a direct channel to criticize public figures in moments of heightened emotions. Sportspeople who underperform for a team or musicians who release a divisive song are often the target of keyboard warriors’ ire.

Sport and music can inspire intense emotions, but it is vital that people take the time to consider the ramifications of their post rather than exploiting social media to spout unconstructive criticism. The old adage ‘if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all’ rings true; if a player or a singer has a bad day, they will already know and won’t need it reinforced.

Conversely, if an individual performs particularly well then social media can be an effective way of letting someone know they’re doing a great job. The same is true in online poker chat boxes. 888’s poker strategy guide notes how online poker players often post ‘nh’ in appreciation of an opponent’s nice hand, particularly in the case of a full house or straight flush. Whatever the game, whether Texas holdem or something far removed from poker, it is always pleasant to hear appreciation of a job well done.

Reading body language

A great hand like this could affect a player's body language.

Reading body language is an integral part of achieving success in physical forms of poker. Being able to identify an opponent’s tell, an unconscious and often subtle sign that betrays a player’s emotions, is an essential part of winning the game. Spotting a tell could indicate that a player has a strong or poor hand, thereby giving an insight into their possible strategy. Pre-empting that strategy can give a player the upper hand.

In some everyday situations, reading body language can be equally important. Rather than using it to gain a competitive advantage, using body language can help in understanding how another person is feeling. This is particularly useful in an office environment. Working together in proximity for several hours every week means that people have to be respectful of what they say to one another.

This could mean that sometimes people are afraid to share their thoughts or feelings in fear of upsetting another individual and disrupting the balance in the workplace. This is where body language can be particularly important. A person’s body language may indicate they are not in a positive mood on that day, so it might be that they require their own space or would particularly benefit from a kind gesture.

That body language could just be a result of it being Monday, but it is always something that should be observed. However, body language doesn’t necessarily need commenting on. As it is often the result of subconscious emotions, calling someone out for their body language can make a person feel exposed and uncomfortable. It is much more effective to simply respond with kindness rather than suggest someone is looking sad today. That unspoken response to body language is similarly important in poker, where a player wouldn’t want to reveal that they have spotted an opponent’s tell.

The game of poker might exist in its own world separate from everyday life, but many of its skills and principles hold true in all social situations.

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