Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Poker Etiquette

I play less than 100 hours of live poker each year.  I sporadically come across some of the peculiar situations that others experience more often.  For example, in a previous post, I encountered a situation where the dealer folded a winner but I was the only one to notice.

Another interesting situation came up recently during a hand.  Seat 5 was new to the table.  He bought in for $300 and had been up and down betting/raising and mostly winning/folding without showing. He appeared to be a seasoned player.  Most of the time, he waited to look at his cards right before it was his turn to act.  He protected his whole cards and didn't carelessly pick them up off the table. Then, this hand happened:

I was dealt J-10 and had $900+ behind in seat 6.  I'm in the SB, looking as the action moves around and towards me.  The action was on seat 3 or seat 4 when I glanced to my right.  At that moment, seat 5 started looking at his cards.  Just for a second, my eyes followed the movement of his hands and I thought I saw 8.  I shifted my eyes away from him before he looked at his second card.

He then bet $15.  I called and so did seat 10 and seat 1.  The flop was J-5-7.  In early position, I opted to check since there were no spades and there were three players left to act.  I wasn't ready to build a pot, yet.  It was checked around to seat 5; he bet $30 and only two of us called.  Turn was 2, two of us checked, and seat 5 bet $75.

This is where I decided to shift gears.  Seat 5 was on the button and I believed he was holding 8-x.  I didn't see seat 10 calling off his $200+ stack in this spot.  Seat 5 had about $175 left after the turn bet.

I thought seat 5 could have been holding 8-8 or 8-9 (maybe even 8-6or 8-A).  I was ahead either way I looked at it.  Since I was up during this session and I thought I could get both of them to fold, I went all-in.  Seat 10 folded but seat 5 moved the rest of his chips in.

The river was K.  I thought I was good unless he was holding 8-K.  Since I had moved all-in, I flipped over my J,10.  I think most of the table couldn't believe it.  There were several comments about how weak my hand was.  Some were saying that seat 5 had me beat.  But, seat 5 didn't turn over his cards.  He looked at the board one more time, folded and said, "You're good." 

He asked the dealer to call a chip runner.  He was very surprised at how I played the hand.  He asked me what hand did I think he had.  I said, since he folded, it had to be 8-9.  But he said he folded 4,3(not sure I believe it).

I was going to call the $15 even if I hadn't seen his card; but the rest of the hand would have played out differently.  I've never had a situation, until this hand, where I saw my opponent's card and used it to stack him.  How would you have played the hand?  What is the correct poker etiquette in this situation?


  1. You used all the available info at hand, and took down a pot. Good job. He's responsible for being discreet and protecting his own. Unless you're actively trying to peek a glance, don't feel guilty. He gave you a present and you did what any reg would do (IMHO).
    Question is: what the hell was he holding if he called your all-in? What did he think he could beat you with, a busted draw?
    Anyway, enjoy your posts.

    1. JC:

      Villian called before the river, so his draw had not yet busted.

      I do think it's a tricky situation, as our Hero obtained information that other players at the table were not privy to, and that information informed his betting with multiple players in the hand.

      Being candid, I would have played it just as Hero did, capitalizing on the situation. However, I do think the proper ettiquette would be to inform the dealer that you believe you saw one of the players hole cards. Were it head's up, it's on the player to protect.

      Interesting thread on this topic on 2+2:



  2. "....and I thought I saw 8♣."

    What incentive does he have for denying an 8♣,x holding? 4♣,3♣ sounds more logical, and it appears you were optically deceived. As for the etiquette of the situation, I agree with James Carpenter above.

  3. Since you only saw a glance you could have easily thought the 3 was an 8. I agree with the above comments. You did not try to see the cards, they were mistakenly flashed at you so you have every right to use whatever information you have to obtain the most positive results you can.

  4. i too often dont see the others hole cards correctly as i thought