Etiquette

Preamble

As an Association of gentlemen (and occasionally ladies), it is the goal of this charter to ensure that all rules and expectations of proper card etiquette are observed and respected whenever possible.

That said, certain social situations and mitigating circumstances can lead to occasional breeches in the following doctrine. These are to be viewed as lapses in judgement as part of the human condition and nothing more serious, unless malice aforethought is suspected.

In short, these are guidelines, not hard and fast rules. Please try to respect them, as it will enhance the gaming experience for all involved.

Betting Etiquette

The purpose of the Betting Etiquette section is to define what is permissible and what is not when placing wagers at H.G.P.A. sanctioned events. By clearly stating and enforcing these rules of betting conduct, players can focus on their card strategy and enjoyment of the game without the distraction of improper betting or the possibility of subterfuge.

Standards of Betting Etiquette

* Splashing The Pot: Splashing the pot refers to the act of dumping handfuls or piles of chips into the middle haphazardly when betting. This is to be avoided, as not only is it conduct unbefitting of a gentleman, but it makes it hard for other players to see what it is you have actually bet. Audibly stating your intention to call or raise any existing bet before dumping the required chips into the pot is preferred.

* String Bets: String bets are bets that are broken into separate motions and actions, the erstwhile purpose of which is to elicit tells or signals from other players via the segmenting of the betting act. Stating an intention to call followed by an attempt to raise or declaring a raise then retracting it to a mere call are other examples of a string bet.

While it is hoped that no members or guests who sit at our tables are so calculating as to intentionally mislead and “read” other players, the practise of string betting is one that is not acceptable within the Association.

Players should either make their wager in a singular and fluid motion or verbally indicate that they wish to call or raise before counting out their chips and placing them in the middle.

If there is confusion during the betting sequence or an accidental string bet transpires, the player’s initial action or voiced desire shall be considered his intended wager.

* Acting in Turn: The raucous nature of some crowded gaming sessions and the seemingly ubiquitous presence of beverages of a refreshing nature at the table sometimes makes this a difficult if not altogether impossible courtesy to extend, but whenever possible, please try to ensure that you are acting in turn when you place your bet.

Placing your wager out of turn not only renders your own intentions bare for all to see but unintentionally hinders those who have already placed bets and aides those who are contemplating their actions after you.

* Reasonable Speed of Play: Large risks and rewards sometimes dictate calculated thought as to how to proceed, but extended periods of card contemplation should be avoided whenever possible. Taking some time to think about your hand is a right, but stalling the game for unreasonable amounts of time as you consider your options will not be tolerated.

* Showdown Behaviour: The onus of showing cards at the end of a round falls upon the player who placed the last bet in the final round, or in the case of a checked-through betting round, the player in the first betting location to the left of the dealer.

Once the strength of their hand is determined, the player next in betting order may then show their hand if desired or muck it unseen and concede their chance at the pot.

It is considered impolite to “slow-roll” an opponent (make them think they have won when they have not) but the act will be tolerated as circumstances warrant.

Players who mis-declare their hand will not be overtly punished, but other players have the right to lord the mistake over the head of the confused player for the rest of the evening.

After seeing other player’s hands, any players who expose what is actually the winning hand but still think they are the losers will in fact be declared the winner, as long as the mistake is caught by another player sitting at the table, participant in the hand or not. A “dunce penalty” of 10% of the pot shall be excised from their winnings and left in the pot for the next hand.

Players who are in a live hand have the right to display any of their cards to everyone at the table at any given time if they so choose. Abuse of this practise as a tactic to scare people out of hands is considered impolite and is not recommended.

If the winnings of a split-pot game cannot be paid out evenly, the larger sum of the indivisible chips shall be given to the player with the best hand between the winners.

* Rabbit Hunting: Rabbit hunting (asking to see cards that would have come had the hand continued) is not strictly prohibited but should be limited to the people who were involved in the hand up until its conclusion. Players who fold a hand early should have no desire to see what cards might have come, lest their spirits become dashed.

* Busting Out: A player who loses all of their chips is considered to be “busted out”. They may leave the table at this point or they may purchase more chips with which to wager. Should a player bust out during a round game, it is presumed that they will cover their blinds should they choose to buy back into the game directly.

Players who bust out and decide to sit out of the action for a while only to buy back in after their blinds have passed will be expected to “post” money to cover their missed blinds.

* Large Wagers & Pots: At some points, the pot or wager for any given game may grow to a sizeable amount. Please let the players in the hand conduct their business as they see fit. Every player has the right to fold their cards and not participate in a hand if they deem the situation unpleasant or unaffordable.

All players have a right to wager all of their remaining chips at any given time, unless the specific nature of the declared game dictates otherwise (Guts, limit games, etc).

Players who go all-in but cannot cover the main bet will have a side-pot established for them. Players who owe the pot more chips than they have available are presumed to have the means to rebuy so as to cover their outstanding debt.

Players who are incapable or unwilling to rebuy should make this inability known before engaging in a bet that might place them in such a position so an alternate method of payment can be devised should they lose the hand.

Chip markers or I.O.U.s may be substituted in lieu of chips if all players still in the hand agree upon the value of the placeholder and the terms upon which it will be redeemed, if applicable.

Lines of credit may be solicited and offered from any one player to another, the terms of which are exclusively the business of the parties involved in the transaction. In any credit circumstance, debts may not be repaid via a transfer of chips – all debts are to be settled after cashing-out, unless a table consensus agrees otherwise.

* Fairness of Betting: Unless explictly agreed upon by all players involved, all games played, whether established in tradition or of original composition, shall guarantee all players at the table equal advantage and disadvantage in terms or betting and position. Games with a blind structure shall be played around the table to their natural conclusion, and any original games must incorporate a betting structure that is fair to every player in the game.

Table Behaviour

The purpose of the Table Behaviour section is to outline what is considered polite and acceptable behaviour at the table and what is not. Adhering to these standards will enhance the experience for all involved, so please try and stay as true to them as possible.

Standards of Table Behaviour

* Appropriate Card Locations: It is important that cards are kept on the table, or held at a level above the table as to make them clearly visible to all other players. Folded cards are to be tossed into the middle so as not to be confused with a live hand, and the dealer will endeavour to keep the deck either on the table or in clear view above the table at all times.

It is the responsibility of all players to protect their own cards at all times. This can mean placing them under a marker face down on the table, keeping them on the table in a secure location or holding them in a fashion as to not be identifiable to other players.

Likewise, as honourable men, it is the responsibility of all players to inform any other player that they are not adhering to these tenets. Please advise all players if their cards are identifiable or being held in a non-secure fashion.

* Guardianship of Chips: Players have a presumed responsibility to maintain their personal chip stacks or piles in such a manner as to not influence live hands. If you are fortunate enough to have so many chips as to overflow onto the playing surface, please rein in your betting discs so they are not misinterpreted as wagers.

Chips must be kept on the table in plain view so other players can judge the strength of your stack. Exceptions made for certain hidden wager games, such as Guts or Intestinal Fortitude.

* Commenting on Live Hands: A crime of which many of us are guilty, it is not considered polite to make comments regarding hands which are currently being played as a non-participant.

Everyone should be able to see what is on the board for themselves; letting loose exclamations about the possibilities of a full house or straight flush may inadvertently influence players still in the hand to act against their normal practise – a detriment for other players who are trying to slow-play or bluff.

* Commenting on Dead Hands: Similar to the above, the practise of showing other folded players the hand you yourself folded is allowed, with the understanding that by doing so there shall be no display of emotion or verbal cues as to what cards are being spoken of.

Likewise, letting fly groans of malcontent when the cards you needed to make a hand come up on the board after you have folded only serves to let other players still in the hand know what you folded, possibly giving them an unfair advantage over others still in the action.

* “Coffee-housing”: The idea of “coffee-housing”, or engaging in conversation with other players during a live bet, is part and parcel of the H.G.P.A. card experience and is therefore entirely permissible for players still involved in the hand.

Commenting about your own cards (truthfully or otherwise), speculation about the cards of others, silent posturing or blatant preening – presenting an image is an integral part of poker. Players should avoid engaging in lewdness or profanities whenever possible.

* Guest Policy: Any member is welcome to bring guests to gatherings, as the more players the better. Guests should be made aware of our social and gaming policies, and are expected to carry themselves in a manner befitting the Association.

Members shall be responsible for the conduct of their invited guests, and will take measures to enure they abide by the rules and aims set out in these charters. Should a consensus of members agree that particularly offensive persons are no longer welcome at Association functions, the member who first introduced them to the group shall take the necessary steps to ensure this directive is followed.

* Obeying The Host: Anyone sporting enough to host a gathering should not only be acclaimed as a being of good cheer, but also is to be afforded a degree of discretionary power regarding the conduct and behaviour of persons under their roof.

All players and guests should be mindful of the demands and requests of the host, be they related to level of noise, movements through the house, tidying up messes, where it is appropriate to smoke and to any other consideration not mentioned here.

Regardless of the game being played or the time of the evening, the gathering shall disperse when the host demands it.

House Rules

The purpose of the House Rules section is to define and explain standing rules that should apply to all poker situations and circumstances, so as to provide a level playing field and clear understanding as to what can be expected from any given gathering.

Standing H.G.P.A. Rules

* Burn Cards/Deck Cuts: It is unlikely that any of our members or their guests are engaging in card mechanics or other shenanigans, but the simple practices of burn cards and deck cuts will make this premise a guaranteed certainty.

Burn cards should be placed in the middle so as not to be confused with live hands or accidentally reintegrated into the main deck. Deck cuts should be offered to the dealer’s right – to cut or not cut and the location of the cut is the prerogative of the player offered it. The dealer should refrain from shuffling after the cut has been made or declined.

On occasions when the late hour or over-indulgence of spirits have clouded the dealer’s mind and these safeguards fall by the wayside, any player can request they be reinforced with no ill-regard held.

Misdeals: A misdeal may be called by any player at the table if one of the following circumstances occurs, provided that they have not yet looked at their own cards:

  • The cards are dealt in such a manner as to include a player who is not in the hand or exclude a player who is in the hand.
  • The cards are dealt in such a manner as to make it unclear which cards belong to which player.
  • The dealer accidentally furnishes a player or players with too many cards, which they subsequently look at.
  • Numerous cards are accidentally exposed during the deal, thus revealing too many of the known cards to players.

Misdeals may also be called in circumstances not detailed here. If a consensus of players agree, the misdeal shall proceed.

Regardless of circumstance, if all players agree that a particular deal should stand before looking at their cards, then the right to call a misdeal is forfeit.

Exposed Cards: If a card is accidentally exposed during a deal, the player for whom it was destined may choose to either keep the card or have it discarded and serve as the next burn card, if applicable. In either circumstance, all players should be allowed to take note of the card before any remedy is taken.

* Hand & Card Values: Unless otherwise stated to the contrary, all games will adhere to the Standard Poker Rankings of Hand Strength:

Five Card Hands

  • Royal Flush – 10-J-Q-K-A, suited
    (Ex: )
  • Straight Flush – Any straight of five cards suited
    (Ex: )
  • Four of a Kind – Any four cards of the same value
    (Ex: )
  • Full House – Three cards of one value plus a pair of another value
    (Ex: )
  • Flush – Five cards of any value, all suited
    (Ex: )
  • Straight – Five cards in numerical sequence, not suited
    (Ex: )
  • Three of a Kind – Any three cards of the same value
    (Ex: )
  • Two Pair – Two pairs of cards of the same value
    (Ex: )
  • One Pair – A pair of cards of the same value
    (Ex: )
  • High Card – The highest valued card in your hand
    (Ex: )

Three Card Hands

  • Straight Flush – Any straight of three cards suited
    (Ex: )
  • Three of a Kind – Any three cards of the same value
    (Ex: )
  • Straight – Three cards in numerical sequence, not suited
    (Ex: )
  • Flush – Three cards of any value, all suited
    (Ex: )
  • One Pair – A pair of cards of the same value
    (Ex: )
  • High Card – The highest valued card in your hand
    (Ex: )

Wild Card Games

  • Five of a Kind – Any five cards of the same value
    (Ex: , with 3s being wild)
  • Royal Flush – 10-J-Q-K-A, suited
    (Ex: )
  • Straight Flush – Any straight of five cards suited
    (Ex: )
  • Four of a Kind – Any four cards of the same value
    (Ex: )
  • Full House – Three cards of one value plus a pair of another value
    (Ex: )
  • Flush – Five cards of any value, all suited
    (Ex: )
  • Straight – Five cards in numerical sequence, not suited
    (Ex: )
  • Three of a Kind – Any three cards of the same value
    (Ex: )
  • Two Pair – Two pairs of cards of the same value
    (Ex: )
  • One Pair – A pair of cards of the same value
    (Ex: )
  • High Card – The highest valued card in your hand
    (Ex: )

Unless explicity stated to the contrary by the caller of the game, the Ace shall be considered the highest valued card in the deck, especially relevant in split-pot games involving high-low cards. It can, however, still be used as both the anchor in a low straight (Ex: A-2-3-4-5) and as the highest valued card in a hand when determining certain split-pot games.

* Leaving the Table: Players who excuse themselves from the table to refresh their drinks, use the facilities or take in the night air should try and do so during agreed upon breaks, usually found in between games.

Players who are absent from the table during a round game will still receive cards and have their blinds posted for them when applicable, whereas players who are absent during games without a blind betting structure will simply be dealt out of that game.

Absent players will have any cards dealt to them folded if their wagering intent is not known within a reasonable amount of time, unless they have the opportunity to check their bet in which case it will be presumed they will take this course of action.

All players have the right to sit out any game they please, and would be asked to make this decision known before they are dealt into the game. Be advised that committing to play a round game means that if the player should decide to no longer play part way through the round, they are still responsible for covering any future blinds they would have otherwise incurred had they remained in the game.

Unless explicit permission is given, players who are not in a hand will refrain from looking at or playing the hands of players absent from the table.

* Entering & Exiting a Game: Players are welcome to join an existing game at any point of a gathering. Depending on the game being played and their location at the table, they may be required to “post” blinds they would have otherwise incurred had they been present for the entire game.

The initial buy-in limit for chips is generally agreed to be $10.00 worth of chips for $5.00 cash on the table, if we were playing for real money which we most certainly are not. This may be waived by a table consensus if the game is in the latter stages of the evening and there is a considerable amount of chips already in play.

It is presumed that all players will play for an intermediate period of time at the table. While not all circumstances can be forseen, it is considered rude and inappropriate for a player who has just recently bought into a game to suddenly decide to cash-out after a large win, as this not only deprives those remaining the pleasure of the departing player’s company but also the fair chance to earn back their recently lost chips.

* Crazy Games: The idea of Crazy Games is to allow for entertaining and wild gambling to occur in a forum distinct from actual poker playing. All known rules and tenets of the H.G.P.A. codes of conduct apply, with the following notable exceptions:

  • Crazy Games may constitute any game fabricated in the mind of a member or guest, or any game that is defined by a consensus to fall outside of what is generally agreed to be a “normal” poker game.
  • Crazy Games should not be called during the “normal” phase of poker, unless a table consensus agrees to such a call. Generally speaking, Crazy Games are played near the end of an evening, but the exact time is up to the host and the remaining players who wish to play.
  • Likewise, players should refrain from calling “normal” games of poker during Crazy Game time, unless a consensus of players agrees to the call.
  • Any player who wishes to cash out their chips and not partake in the Crazy Games may do so, regardless of the timing of their arrival into the game previous. Crazy Games tend to be extremely loose in play and relatively large amounts of money can exchange hands, so they are not for the faint of heart or light of wallet. That said, it is considered polite to at least play a few Crazy Games once joined, so be advised that agreeing to play entails a small committment of time and possibly chips.
  • There is no predetermined end time to the Crazy Game period, unless specified beforehand by the host. The Crazy Games generally end after a particularly massive win, when sufficient people have busted out as to make further play unfeasible or when ingestion of spirits or other intoxicants renders a majority of the players incapable of carrying on.

* The Banker: The Banker shall refer to whomever is responsible for collecting buy-ins and distributing chips to players. While counting out and collecting chips is a task that can be delegated to other players, the duty of collecting and tending to the money should fall to a single person whenever possible, so as to limit the number of people digging into the secured funds.

As a general rule of thumb, the person who is providing the chips for the game acts as the banker, but this can be altered as circumstances warrant.

Under no circumstance shall the Banker be held accountable for missing or excess funds in the bank, unless gross negligence or misconduct is proven to have transpired. Misplacing a loonie is an honest mistake; throwing the bank into the garbage with a donair foil borders on idiocy.

* End of Night Cash Out: In order to expedite the end of night cashing out of chips, players will divide their chips into stacks worth $20. Once they are cleared off the board, $10 stacks will be addressed, then $5 stacks. If sufficent change exists within the bank, smaller stacks will then be addressed on an individual basis.

If means do not exist to allow a player to cash out their chips exactly, they may make arrangements with remaining players as to how to redeem them or engage in games of chance with other willing players with the purpose of consolidating the remaining small stacks into one larger stack that can be paid out with the remaining denominations in the bank.

Players must cash all their chips out at once, an event which is presumed to be a precursor to them leaving for the evening. Cashing out small portions of a large stack is not permitted except under extraordinary circumstances.

In the unlikely event that the bank is short on funds and cannot pay out for all the chips on the table, the remaining players will address the situation on a case by case basis. Remedies may include all remaining players ponying up money to make up for the shortfall, an I.O.U. note being issued or an outside trade for goods or services being tendered.

In the exponentially less likely event that the bank retains a surplus of money after all the chips have been accounted for, the remaining players shall devise a means to pay this money out via a game of chance or a group consensus as to how it should be allocated.

All previous situations notwithstanding, it is considered good form for the host of the gathering to be awarded any loose change or tiny surpluses that may exist after the night has drawn to a close, as a token of thanks for their hospitality.

7,389 Responses to “Etiquette”

  1. I have a question if you wouldn’t mind assisting me….what is it called when 3 people are in play and 1 player decides  to bow out of a hand in a gentlemanly way in order to let the other 2 play head to head?