Nowadays every major poker site provides the facility for players to chat with one another. Most players enjoy making conversation from time to time, since it helps reduce the isolation of playing online, adding a social element to the game that online poker would otherwise lack. Sometimes players use the chat boxes to praise or berate opponents, sometimes to help iron out any issues that may have arisen at the table, and other times just to catch up with friends whom they have met through the cardroom. Of course, it is forbidden for anyone to use the chat function to even hint at what their hole cards are or advise other players on how they should play a hand that is in progress!
Very often players use common abbreviations when they are chatting to save typing time, the most common of which are:
gc – good cards (or good call)
gh – good hand
gl – good luck
101 – laughing out loud
nc – nice cards (or nice catch)
np – no problem
rofl – rolling on the floor laughing
sb – small blind
It has already been mentioned that some of the best opportunities in online play arise when all the other players at the table are chatting to one another, enjoying the camaraderie of the game instead of focusing properly on the game itself. If everyone is relaxed and having a good time, it is much more likely that the game will be played in the kind of gambling spirit that you are looking for in a game – everyone playing looser than they normally would and the bad players staying at the table even if they are losing money. If you are fortunate enough to find yourself at such a table, then it is not at all in your interests to jeopardise the spirit of the game – if you don’t wish to participate in the banter yourself, that’s fine, but if you want everyone to keep playing in the same fashion, then it is better to hold your peace rather than to say anything that may cause a change in the atmosphere of the game.
By the same token, you should avoid criticising another player for playing a hand badly – by embarrassing another player in public you will either cause them to leave with their bankroll still intact, or more likely encourage them to pay more attention to the game, tightening up, playing better and perhaps learning some valuable lessons for the future. As the saying goes ‘Don’t tap on the glass!’
It is sometimes argued that the best way to part a bad player from their money is to try and set them on tilt by verbally attacking them. However, this is a somewhat short-sighted strategy – if you come across a player who really is that clueless, they are probably easy to beat anyhow. Surely you want them in your game on a regular basis? Why spoil their gambling experience and cause them to go elsewhere in future?
Occasionally you will have the misfortune to find yourself at a table where a player is ranting and raving, and possibly even being extremely abusive to other players. Invariably that player is on tilt, steaming through their bankroll. In these circumstances there are three non-exclusive courses of action:
• You owe it to yourself (and all the other polite players at the table) to play your best game against the abusive player, helping to relieve him of his bankroll and sending him off with his tail between his legs. Don’t get involved in an argument with him and allow his bad behaviour to put you on tilt!
• Just as in a brick and mortar cardroom where you can report abuse to the dealer or floorperson, so you can report chat abuse to the online poker room’s customer support team, who will often relieve abusive players of their chat privileges for a designated period. If you file a legitimate complaint and the cardroom fails to act, this may tell you everything you need to know about whether or not you should be providing that particular site with your future business.
• Finally, you can always switch off the chat feature if you wish, although this is rather an unsatisfactory solution if you like to use the chat yourself or enjoy trying to gain clues about the other players through their chat messages.
It is important to remember that in Internet poker you are completely anonymous. No-one knows anything about you except your online name, and what they may or may not have been able to glean from the way you play your cards. As soon as you start to chat you risk giving away information about yourself, which other players may be able to use in forming strategies to beat you. For example, if you moan about a couple of bad beats, the sharks may identify you as a frustrated and mediocre player, and start regarding you as a target of their upcoming play. Players who mark themselves as potential victims are inevitably likely to be victimised.
If you do enjoy chatting then it might be worth considering using an online handle which sounds approachable – if you use a name such as Andrew73 other players may be more inclined to chat with you than if you call yourself something like hgtmvshmr.