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Top-10 things to stop saying at the poker table this year

5 January 2015

It's the time of year when people start to make ridiculous proclamations in hopes of turning over a new leaf. Sure, losing 20 pounds this year would make you a lot healthier, but you didn't do it last year, or the year before. I'm not saying you should give up on that goal, but maybe you should build your confidence by setting some more easily attainable goals first.

One thing every poker player should aim to do this year is make playing more enjoyable for the rest of the people at their table. Other than dumping your chips to inferior players, the best way to do that is by making pleasant conversation.

It can be hard to be pleasant at a poker table, especially if you're losing or if there's a real jerk at the table. In those cases it's best to follow your old elementary school's go-to phrase: "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all."

Do us a favor, and stop saying these 10 things at the poker table this year.

10. One time!
"One time!" is the go-to phrase for players all-in for their tournament life. The idea that this phrase somehow gives you control over the deck and that you'll hit one of your three outs would be laughable, if it weren't so stale and overused. If you go an entire year without uttering the phrase, regardless of whether you finish the year up or down, in my book, you're a winner.

9. Any discussion of a player's use of their "one time"
The only thing worse that a player saying "one time" is discussion surrounding a player's decision whether or not to use their "one time." Don't be an enabler. If table talk turns to the use of a player's one time, change the subject to something else.

8. Online poker player abbreviations (e.g., TAG or UTG)
I get it. Pre-Black Friday you played online poker for a living and you discuss hands in online forums on a daily basis. You're almost certainly a better player than I am. But you don't have to act in such a way that lets me know that you know just how much better at poker you are. Talking about advanced poker strategy is a great way to make me feel uncomfortable, especially if I don't understand what you're talking about.

And yes, I know that there are people who use abbreviations like "IRL" in real life, regardless of whether they're poker terms or not. But those people need to be stopped.

7. Political/religious statements
The easiest way to make people uncomfortable at a poker table is to discuss politics or religion. Even if it seems like everyone at the table agrees with you, it's pretty likely that they don't. If you don't talk about how President Obama is ruining our country, I'll keep my opinion of Mitch McConnell to myself. Keep your political canvassing to random house calls to complete strangers, and leave it off the poker table.

6. I had 37 outs!
Whether told in truth or as a cover for playing badly, claiming that you had a multitude of ways to win a hand is irrelevant. Just knock the table and move on to the next hand.

5. Nice catch
This is a passive-aggressive way of saying, "You were way behind and played that hand terribly." I don't think I've ever heard anyone say, "Nice catch" and mean it sincerely.

I will admit that I am a serial offender of use of this phrase. I will endeavor to not let the words pass my lips this year.

4. Dealer, give me a (specific card)
While not as annoying as the ever-present "one time," this phrase can lead to much more ridiculous behavior, which is why it's higher up on the list. Believing the dealer can influence the outcome of an already-shuffled deck of cards is preposterous, and I've seen players hold a grudge when a dealer "didn't come through" for them. And what if the dealer turns over a card that gives you the best hand, but it's not the one that you called for? Does the dealer get credit then?

Don't blame the dealer for your losses, and don't give him or her credit for your wins. Instead, compliment dealers who run a good game, and point out the little things they do well that other players might miss. Making a dealer happy can change the mood of an entire table.

3. Long-winded stories
This is another area where I could use some improvement, especially in my home game. If you start telling a story at the end of one hand, and you're only to the middle by the time someone has three-bet the following hand, your story is too long. People want to pay attention to the game, not a story about how your high school girlfriend once had to drive a bus to school because her car broke down (even though it is a really good story). Cut out the extraneous information, or tell the story some other time when you have the undivided attention of those around you.

2. Nice bet
When someone says, "Nice bet" at the poker table, what they really mean is, "I don't think you have anything, but I don't have the guts to call you." It's another passive-aggressive way to demean an opponent who you think should have checked the hand down to you. It doesn't make your opponent look bad; instead all it does is make you look weak.

1. Nice hand
Once again, most people who say, "Nice hand" when they're beat mean something else entirely. Usually they mean, "That is a horrible hand and I can't believe you played it like that." Don't be one of those people. The best thing you can do when you're beat is knock the table and muck your hand.
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Best of Aaron Todd
Aaron Todd

Home-game hotshot Aaron Todd was an editor/writer at Casino City for nearly eight years, and is currently the Assistant Director of Athletics for Communications and Marketing at St. Lawrence University, his alma mater. While he is happy to play Texas Hold'em, he'd rather mix it up and play Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw, and Badugi.

Aaron Todd

Home-game hotshot Aaron Todd was an editor/writer at Casino City for nearly eight years, and is currently the Assistant Director of Athletics for Communications and Marketing at St. Lawrence University, his alma mater. While he is happy to play Texas Hold'em, he'd rather mix it up and play Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw, and Badugi.