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Ethical Poker

This week, we’re going to take a step back from poker strategy and go over another topic that touches our poker lives. Let’s talk about playing ethical poker.

Figuring out what’s right and what’s wrong is never universal, rarely easy, and, in a game like poker, full of grey areas. What’s wrong for one player may be totally fine for another. For any of these ethical questions, either in poker or in life, you should carefully consider where you stand and do your best to do good.

Looking at Someone Else’s Cards

One of these spots is when someone doesn’t properly cover their cards and you could look at them. What do you do? Do you look at them and take the information advantage? Do you tell them that they’re showing their cards so that they’ll learn to do better? Or do you just keep your mouth shut and your eyes diverted?

As long as you have a good reason for what you do, any of these options is fine. Personally, I would remind them once to cover their cards, and, if they keep showing them, I’d start looking after that.

Trying to Cause Tilt

Another classic example is trying to cause opponents to tilt off and play worse poker. For example, a player may show a bluff or slowroll a play in hopes that it will affect the other person’s mental game.

While it’s important to get edges wherever possible, this is another ethical question

because it involves trying to inflict pain and because, in the long run, it may make poker into a worse game. Especially for recreational players who just want to get out and have some fun, trying hard to upset them can just ruin the whole experience.

The Noble Warrior

There’s plenty of other ethical questions as well. Is it ok to crush new players? Should we feel bad taking chips for big losers who just keep coming back to lose? The list goes on and on.

At the end of the day, we need to understand that everyone decided to sit down at the table as a choice. They’ve decided to engage in the game, and, in a sense, have signed up for the war. Poker is a game of conflict, and nobody is forcing anyone to join the fight.

Think of yourself as a noble warrior. You should respect your opponents and respect the game itself, but you’re also there to win the war.

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