Sunday, February 12, 2006

Poker chat etiquette

Rather than dissect hands that I have recently played, or brag about wins or moan about losses, I thought I would bring up a point that bothers me occasionally when I play on line.

While I am playing in online games, I often see some players in the chat box criticizing the plays that others make. Many times, it will be due to one player winning with a hand that the losing player considers to be unworthy of having been played. More than once, I have agreed with the sentiment of the losing player. If someone plays 53 offsuit in early position, calls one or more flop and turn bets without making a hand, and then hits a straight on the river to beat the other player's flopped set, I would immediately suspect that the winning player had no knowledge of the proper strategy for playing the game. I have read chat comments like, "Why did you play that crap? How could you call my raises with such junk?" And so forth.

I consider myself a fairly polite person. I would not make disparaging remarks like that to strangers, and would have to feel very comfortable with friends that I might joke with in that manner. Some players might try to put someone else on tilt with such trash talk, thinking of it as a strategic tactic. My courtesy filter has so far prevented me from engaging in that sort of gamesmanship. The way I figure it is, if this player is so ignorant of the correct plays to make, I have the advantage over him or her, and in the long run have a very good chance of picking up a lot of chips from this person. The last thing I would want to do is encourage them to improve their play. I also don't want to create an atmosphere of conflict at the table, which could not only antagonize the player being criticized but other players there as well.

I haven't done it yet, but I think that the next time I see some donkey make a boneheaded move that wins a pot, I might make a comment like, "Bold move there" or "Wow, I wouldn't have thought of that." It might make them think that such plays are admired, little knowing that the reason I admired it is that in the long run it is more likely to benefit me than them.