10 Commandents

By Keith ‘The Camel’ Hawkins / August 2004

Have you seen the TV programme on BBC 2 "Angry Old Men"? Well, recently I feel like I am becoming the angry old man of poker. I sit in front of my computer with steam coming out of my ears, railing against various perceived injustices and fuming about alleged wrong doings.

The Mob have given me the opportunity to let off my steam in a monthly column and boy, do I intend to use it.

I am going to start with my 10 commandments. Various things annoy me about poker. Some are tiny niggling irritants and some are huge bugbears. Anyone who partakes in none of the following activities is very unlikely to be in the Camel black book of poker criminals.

  1. You shall not overly celebrate when you win a pot. (Especially in a big tournament). Your opponent is indubitably feeling terrible when you hit that middle pin 9 on the river to crush his dream of a big score. He does not need you jumping around shouting and screaming like a demented baboon or like you’ve just scored the winning goal in the FA Cup final. Show some class. In the immortal words of ‘BadBeat’ Channing, "Get it quietly". 
  2. You shall not soft play your friends. Checking or not raising a pot because you don’t want to knock out a mate from a competition is against the whole ethos of poker. And ultimately it ruins the game for you and the rest of the players. If you do well in a tournament, buy your mate a beer or slip him a fifty, but for the integrity of the game please knock him out or win his chips when you have the chance. 
  3. If you really need to nip do not disappear straight away afterwards. The nature of poker is that on occassion you will need to nip a few quid from a fellow player. Fair enough. But, if you do have to nip, do not stop coming to the casino/cardroom and keep your mobile switched off and leave the nipee having sleepless nights whether he is ever going to see you again, let alone get his cash back. 
  4. You will not claim state benefits if you are a professional poker player and have no intention of getting work. Poker players give very little to the community. We do not pay tax or National Insurance. So, please do not take benefits intended for the poor or needy. If you consider yourself poor or needy, you really should get a job, because you are not winning enough playing poker to live securely. 
  5. Take a shower before coming to the casino. Please! 
  6. Do not say "sorry" when you outdraw someone in a big pot. You are not sorry. If you were truly sorry you would give the loser his money back. The loser knows you’re not sorry. Just shrug your shoulders and shake your head a little bit and get on with the game. It is disingenuous in the extreme to apologise. Unless of course you really hate the guy you’ve outdrawn. Then it’s perfectly acceptable to apologise. 
  7. If you reach the business end of a tournament and propose a deal (no matter how fair it is) and one or more of your oppnents turns it down you will not get the hump. I was once asked outside because I refused a deal. How ridiculous is that? Deal making is part of tournament poker and part of the game is to get the best deal possible for yourself, which may very well include refusing to deal at all. Do not get riled if someone refuses to deal, it is their absolute right and should be respected. 
  8. Do not bleat about how unlucky you have been or tell boring, long winded poker bad beat stories. Believe me, almost noone is interested in your bad luck, and telling the stories makes you look like a bad loser.
  9. Do not type anything into the chat box of an online poker room which you would not be prepared to say to someones face. I met a guy in Vegas who once said to me "I hope you die of cancer" after I outdrew him in a pot. It is real people you are talking to. Why go out of your way to upset someone? 
  10. You will not abuse in any way dealers or any other casino staff. As Jessie May says the dealer just "prints the tickets". It is up to you how you play the game. If you lose a big pot on the river, it is not the dealers fault! And if the dealer makes a mistake, be gentle with him. In an 8 hour poker session do you never make a mistake? Of course you do. So, give them a little leeway.

I am sure, by this time tomorrow, I will have remembered another 10 annoyances at the poker table. But, the general rule to remember is this: treat others in the game as you would like to be treated yourself. It will make the poker world in general and your game in particular a more congennial and pleasant place to play if you do.

Here endeth the sermon.