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No Talking, Please

30 March 2007

This month I had a particularly tough time deciding what to write about. I mean, I knew I was long overdue for a column on blackjack and thought I might write about why you should take a hit on your 12 against a dealer's 2 or 3, or on a 16 against a 10, or maybe even why you want to double on a soft 18 against a 3 through 6, but for some reason my heart just wasn't in it. But when I thought about writing another Texas Hold'em column, my spirits lifted. Am I ever hooked on that game.

So, I thought I'd preach a sermon on something that has been bothering me a lot lately. It's not exactly a rule of the game; it's more like etiquette, but it should be a steadfast rule. It's about talking at the table, and I don't mean social talk, like "How's your pig farm doing, Frank?" I mean talk, by those no longer in the hand, about community cards and what the remaining players may have in their hands. That smacks of outright collusion and cheating and should not be allowed.

Dealers and floor people at the casino where I normally play strongly discourage it, but I've heard comments at other poker rooms that anger me. For example, when the flop shows a 6-7-9, someone who has already folded his cards will say something like, "Uh-oh, someone may have a straight." Now, it doesn't happen often because most players know not to talk about the hand while it's still being played out, but when it does happen, the dealer should remind players not to make those comments.

What happens more often in the possible straight situation is, when there are two players remaining, someone will wonder out loud, "I wonder who has the high end?" The player with a 5-8 in the above situation may not realize that his opponent could have an 8-10. Observant, experienced players always know the likelihood that someone else could have them beat, but it's just not kosher to point it out to a player with tunnel vision and who may not see that possibility.

And to comment on someone's playing style is definitely a no-no. Let a player learn from his own observations that his opponent always limps in with one type of hand and raises with another or never bluffs. It's like acting out of turn: a player who has already opted out of the hand is giving at least one player who is still in the hand an unfair advantage by saying anything about the board or another player.

And I'm not talking about those players still in the hand. As far as I'm concerned, they can talk and bluster and wonder aloud all they want. That's a part of the game.

Another thing that upsets me is a player, upon seeing the flop or turn, letting the whole table know that he threw away the winning hand pre-flop. For example, if you threw away an unsuited 7-2 and then see three deuces by fourth street, there is absolutely no reason to indicate, even if it's simply by either a sigh or dropped shoulders, that that fourth deuce cannot possibly be forthcoming.

And don't think I'm finished preaching. I'll have more to say about this later. Until then, aces and faces to you.

Linda Mabry

Low Roller Linda Mabry lives and gambles on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. She writes a weekly, general gambling advice column for the Biloxi Sun Herald, and may be contacted through her e-mail address, lnmabry@cableone.net or her web site www.thelowroller.com
Linda Mabry
Low Roller Linda Mabry lives and gambles on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. She writes a weekly, general gambling advice column for the Biloxi Sun Herald, and may be contacted through her e-mail address, lnmabry@cableone.net or her web site www.thelowroller.com