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Table Talk in Poker - What's Kosher?

Table talk and banter is part of the game of poker. It always has been and always will be. With the advent of Internet poker and the anonymity that the online version affords people, that talk often takes a turn for the worse and gets ugly fast. Many players, given the extra layer of security that wouldn’t be present at a live game (in other words, a keyboard and a monitor) will take table talk to an extreme.

Acceptable table talk

The range of acceptable table talk is essentially your moms advice when you were a kid, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”. Poker is no different so other than idle chitchat the occasional “nice hand” or “good catch” is perfectly acceptable at any table. Conversations about sports, current events (stay away from politics), and even the old standby – the weather are all acceptable topics to dive into at the poker table.

What’s not acceptable?

Here’s where we dive into the meat of this article. The list of what’s not acceptable runs longer because it seems that many folks just don’t get it. This list goes beyond just using foul language or berating an opponent. There are other areas that you just don’t broach when it comes to poker, whether it be the chat box or a live table.

Foul language will almost always get you into trouble at an online table or a live table at a casino (home games vary here but proceed at your own risk). In some cases like tournaments it may even get you tossed from the game and perhaps the casino! Worst case, your intended target decides to follow you out the door to “continue” the discussion on the street. At that point it’s safe to say that unless you’re a pretty big boy (or girl) that you may well learn this lesson in a hurry.

The other area where some players fall short in terms of following the rule of the game is announcing hands when they fold. Look, I understand that you’re upset because your top pair – top kicker just got four flushed on the turn. However, to say that you just laid down top-top may influence the remaining action on the table! So keep your mouth shut in this instance and let the play proceed to showdown. If you want to complain at that point, go ahead but even here, keep it to a minimum as no one wants to hear bad beat stories.

In a more extreme example, let’s say that you actually “accidentally” announce you hand as you muck it. Let’s assume it was nine-ten on a board of Jack – King – Five. What about the guy that’s sitting there holding Queen – Nine and he’s ready to semi-bluff with the gut shot? You just announced one of his outs was in your hand! You very likely have now influenced his action and as a result, perhaps cost the guy holding a set of Kings a fair amount of cash. Not a way to make friends at the table and again, a good way to get chat banned or worse if playing online.

Table Talk Summary

In case you missed it, even our first header could be seen as offensive to some. The word “kosher” is a Jewish term and some folks may feel uncomfortable with you using such a word out of context. It’s easy to get carried away with such an emotional game but the key to being a long-term winner is managing your emotions. Table talk is a direct expression and reflection on you as a player so remember that the next time you feel tempted to let the verbal assault fly.

Mind Games in Poker