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Classic Poker Rules for Post-Boom Players

Old School Protocol, Etiquette and Procedures

Poker Protocol"Losing can persuade you to change what doesn't need to be changed, and winning can convince you everything is fine even if you are on the brink of disaster."
-- Garry Kasparov, How Life Imitates Chess


The post-Black Friday generation has the misfortune of coming of age during the poker plateau, rather than the much more exciting time of a poker boom. So, instead of having lives filled with actually exciting events, these players have developed some bad habits, etiquette and practices. As a public service, below is a handy list of classic poker protocols for post-boomers to refer to.

1) Talking is a part of poker; vomiting noise is not. When it is your turn to act, your choices are check, bet/raise or fold, not barf incoherent drivel.

2) You're not funny. You're not fascinating. You're not the center of the universe. When it is your turn to act, that doesn't mean it is your turn to be George Clooney or Amy Schumer. It means: do something, you self-centered diva.

3) Maximizing deception is not the point of poker. Maximizing profit is.

4) Games do not have intrinsic variance. Opponents play differently depending on the game. So do you. If you play 1 out of 10 No Limit Hold'em hands and 9 out of 10 in Pot Limit Omaha, that doesn't mean Omaha has more variance. It means you suck at poker.

5) There is no optimal way to play every hand of poker. Playing against people you play every day is not the same as joining a game with unknown players. Generally though, being feared and being able to bluff like crazy is superior to being disrespected and getting loads of action. The latter requires actually making the winning the hand to work.

6) Winning poker should be aspect of living an EV+ life. Degenerate in anything makes you a degenerate.

7) If you are a member of the generation of No Limit Hold'em players who beat that game but can't beat any other game type, either improve your skills or accept your dinosaur status. Do not blame everybody and everything else, including the rake, for your lack of ability to adapt.

8) If you are a misogynist, get a clue, nobody likes a misogynist. Not even other misogynists. They are assholes like you, just pretending to be your friend.

9) You can play hands like KK with the aim to win smallish pots with high frequency or you can structure your play to trap opponents and win a smaller percentage of the pots you play, but the pots you win and lose will be larger. The exact same goes for playing 33.

10) Poker has been around 150+ years, and in all that time the choices have remained the same. When it is your turn to act: check, bet/raise or fold. There is no option to "tank". Wild Bill Hickock did not tank. Titanic Thompson did not have a tanking range. Nick the Greek did not cry when his HUD was banned. You can think, thinking is good, but drama-queen stalling makes you even more unattractively boring than you already are, and that is pretty boring.

11) Remind all pontificating jerkwads at your table that science proves the louder the monkey, the smaller the balls.

12) No Limit Hold'em has large amounts of luck designed into it. If you started out as a winning player, but now have consistently bad results, do not assume that now you are running bad. Instead assume your results are regressing to the mean. In other words, you were running good before, and now you are running normally.

13) Likewise, if you were a winning player when using a HUD, but are a losing player in casinos, you were never an actual winning player. Your HUD was. Instead of clinging to your software for an edge, develop your own skills.

14) When you win a pot, act like you have done it before, and intend to do it gain. Do not squeal like you have finally lost your virginity after years of trying.

15) "Never send a baby for the beer." Do not make random little bets into pots on the flop or turn, and then wonder what the proper river play is. There isn't one. Do not stick your tongue on the frozen lamppost in the first place. Garry Kasparov again: "It is foolish to try to evaluate any single action. A monkey might make the best move on the board once. So we should resist all demands to say if this or that tactic is good or bad, as if they exist in isolation. We should condemn any move made without knowing why it was made and what is to come next."

See Diversity Makes a (Poker) Boom Not Monotony, Evolution of the Online Poker Industry and The Poker Ecosystem