Deep in the Weeds: Poker Etiquette

This is going to be one of those self-indulgent posts that won’t appeal to everyone… probably no one. But maybe you’ll find it interesting because it’s one of those self-righteous posts where you might disagree, and those always turn out nicely… with a reader vowing never to darken our blog again.

This is a televised Texas Hold’em cash game.

The action is between Phil Helmuth, winner of the most World Series of Poker bracelets, but a guy everyone just loves to hate because of the amount of verbal abuse he gives other players, and Tony G., a guy whose table mannerisms makes Helmuth look like a choir boy.

Tony G. is now a member of the European Parliament For Lithuania.

I’m posting this because of the youtube comments. Again, I have to wonder how people can be so stupid.

In this hand Helmuth opens for the pot, meaning he’s raising for the total sum of the current pot.

Tony G. re-raises all-in, meaning, he’s betting all of his chips. He tells Hellmuth he’s doing it as a “no-look”, meaning he didn’t look at his 2 hole cards.

Players do that when they want to truly gamble. They allow the other players to look at their cards, and possibly call the bet, because a fairly good hand against a guy who has 2 random cards should be a favorite to win.

The problem here is that Tony G. lies. He looked at his cards and he has the 4th best starting hand in poker- Ace/King of the same suit.

When Tony G. sees that Helmuth has Ace/Jack, he says, “you’re close” and then reveals his Ace/King.

Helmuth immediately realizes Tony G. looked at his cards and he was lied to.

Is it illegal?


Is it a completely scumbag move that would be looked down upon by everyone except for the scummiest of players?


The YouTube commenting community, as usual, has a goodly amount of knuckleheads who chime in when it’s obvious they don’t play poker because they get so much wrong about the scenario.

– No, Tony G. did not break any rules. But he does break an unwritten rule of etiquette. You don’t induce a guy to call your “no look” when you have looked. It’s against the spirit of why players do the “no-look,” and why players call the “no look” bet.

-Idiots are calling what Tony G. did a “form of bluffing,” because bluffing is “essentially lying.”

That’s a stretch. When people bluff in poker it’s understood that they might be misrepresenting the strength of their hand. It’s part of the game. When telling someone you’re doing a “no look” it’s understood that YOU DIDN’T LOOK. You’re not “bluffing” that you didn’t look, you’re just being an ahole liar.

Again, not illegal, but it does violate etiquette.

Look no further than the rest of the table if you want to see what they thought of Tony G.’s lie.

They all clam up, embarrassed for him.

-Some say it is Helmuth taking advantage of Tony G.’s mistake. I don’t even understand that comment, but it was made about a dozen times.

-Lastly, can someone tell me how the Lithuanian Liberal Movement correlates to our politics? Because, that is the party that Tony G. is in, and it could explain a lot.




62 Comments on Deep in the Weeds: Poker Etiquette

  1. If I was playing poker for 10’s of thousands of dollars I would say whatever I needed to say in order to win. Who says professional poker players are supposed to have some sort of etiquette. The guy in black is a baby that should have payed attention to the game.

  2. I believe BFH’s recap of the video, so I don’t have to watch. And I am in 100% agreement with him, too. Telling the table you’re playing “no look” and sneaking a peek is something anybody I’d play with would only get away with once. No, it isn’t against any official rule, but I’d never sit down with such a scum-sucking lowlife boorish booger-eating farter in churches ever again.

  3. if you believe in ‘etiquette’ for either Poker or Politics then you have already lost

    case being … the ‘Perpetual Party of Loss’ (& they are damn pleased to wallow in it), … better know as the ‘Republican Party’

    (btw, no different than the ‘trick play’ that BFH described last night about the baseball play)

  4. Well, this is a little like the argument about free speech.
    You’re free to say what you want but you’re not free from the consequences.

    Helmuth didn’t say what he did was illegal, he simply said there are consequences for being such an asshole.

    He’s right.
    It was revealed that Tony G. is an asshole who would angle shoot a player out of $25,000 for lying about something that 99% of all professional poker players would never do.

    “No look” is an arrangement in poker that relies on the fact that you did not look. I’ve never seen anyone lie about it when asked 3 times if they looked, and then say “of course I lied” as if lying in that situation is a thing that happens regularly.
    It never happens.

    The “of course” part is Tony G. admitting that he, in particular, is a scumbag liar, and he’s proud of it.

    And now he’s a politician.

  5. playing cards and playing dice is a sin

    so’s dancing btw.

    and no makeup by gawd.

    women that play cards? Dont get me started.

  6. Yes, that was bad etiquette.
    I’m from Vegas, I have played, I watch poker at the tables, dated a Poker dealer at Binions/Horseshoe and I know what that guy did was the same shit that degenerates usually do.
    Not illegal, not worthy of getting his ass kicked in proper company, but that’s something you don’t do if you want to be invited to future games.

    “(btw, no different than the ‘trick play’ that BFH described last night about the baseball play)”
    Well, it is different because the fielder didn’t tell the runner ahead of time that he wasn’t going to do a trick play.

  7. (btw, no different than the ‘trick play’ that BFH described last night about the baseball play)>>

    Tony G. did not pull a trick play, he assured another player that he did not look at his cards and he was doing the “no look” in order to get him to put his money in.

    It would be the same if the coach of Miami, when asked, said he would not pull a trick play and then did and said, “Oh well, I lied, and then laughed about it, and then told the other team to get the hell out of their stadium.” (Tony G. said that to Helmuth after he took his chips. He told him to get the hell out of the the studio.)

    You’re removing the part about the bald-face lying and saying a gadget play is the same thing.

    After the gadget play who said Miami were “liars”?

  8. My favorite poker player is a guy named Tex. One night, some drunk degenerate college kid kept talking shit to him at a table. Tex told him to shut up and play. The kid called him a few names and threw something at him. Tex got up, and warned him if he did it again, he’d knock his ass out. Everyone at the table got up and moved back wards. The dumb kid went to punch Tex and missed. Tex knocked his ass onto the next table and broke it, then he slid onto the floor. They kept asking the kid if he wanted an ambulance. He said no. LOL!

  9. And why does the guy in the black think he deserves an answer? Isn’t his asking the question a violation of etiquette also?

  10. BFH, My aching head. After the holiday we’ll schedule you a visit. I’m sure the west coast contingent can find their way here for a visit. I have plenty of space. Plus my American Mexican Harley Riding neighbors are aways fun. we never need to wait for a party here.

  11. Isn’t his asking the question a violation of etiquette also?>

    No. He’s ironing out the details of a bet proffered by Tony G. and Tony is lying to him about the basic fundamental behind the bet.

  12. The only poker I’ve played is sitting around drinking beer with buddies. Bullshitting and lying was part of the fun.

  13. Uncle Al- I never met him but I was told he’s a nice guy. He fights professionally- everyone knew and that’s why they backed away from the table when he got up. They tried to warn the moron kid, but he didn’t listen. lol! 🤣

  14. j6p,

    Here’s an analogy that will hit home with you.

    What if a guy made a $250 bet with you that he could beat you on a hole in golf.
    This is the bet.
    There are 10 boxes. 9 of the boxes have potatoes in them. 1 has a golf ball.

    He has a box and assures you he did not look in the box. He tells you three times he did not look in the box. You have a 90% chance that he has a potato.

    You take the bet and he laughs as he opens the box with the golf ball and tells you “of course he looked in the box.”

    Many will say, “well, never take a bet with a hustler because you can be getting hustled.”


    But professional poker players do not run that kind of hustle on each other as if they are pigeons and marks. This is what they do for a living.

    The no-look would become obsolete if everyone was a Tony G., and the no-look is an essential part of Texas Hold’em.

  15. I recently played Texas Hold’em here in Vegas.
    I had pocket cowboys and two more came down.
    Of course I won the hand but the house paid an additional C-note for the stellar hand.
    Poker is indeed a fun game.
    It was a good night. 🙂

  16. From the movie Rustlers Rhapsody: “Of course I lied, I’m a lawyer you idiot!”
    On the ball field – it’s a dick move, but legal.
    At the poker table – it’s a dick move, but legal.
    Of course he lied (bluffed), it’s a poker game.
    And that does it, I’m quitting this site once and for all (for the night, I’ll see all you deplorables tomorrow).

  17. “You take the bet and he laughs as he opens the box with the golf ball and tells you “of course he looked in the box.”

    I’m pretty sure thats when you beat his ass. Just sayen.

  18. I guess I need to weigh in on the controversy.
    It was a dick move, but it was played against a total dick.
    Therefore I would call it a push.

    If it was done against a class player then the douche needs to be pilloried until his ears bleed.
    Since it was Phil…oh well.
    Kind of like if a good person was hit by a car versus Robert Mueller being run over by a locomotive. No harm, no foul.

    Seriously, you could probably find a hundred YouTube videos of Helmuth being a prick rat-bastard.

  19. I guess I never knew that no-look and the expectation for honesty was a part of the game. Good thing I’m not trying to make a living playing poker. I’d probably lose my money and get my ass kicked in the same night.

  20. ““I won’t be wronged. I won’t be insulted. I won’t be laid a-hand on. I don’t do these things to other people, and I require the same from them.”
    I think this includes cheated.

  21. Joe6, we can have an iotw Las Vegas summit in January.
    I will take you to a friendly card game.
    Brad will be locked and loaded as our security team.
    We can do a live-stream on iotw.
    MJA will be our cocktail waitress. 🙂
    No, MJA will be the dealer.

  22. LBS-

    Helmuth is a dick with his anger and antics, agreed.
    But I find him interesting in that he really has a big heart.

    He’s entertaining, and I agree that we’re dealing with two knobheads in the video.
    So your point has a little validity.
    It’s just that I think Tony G. would pull that move on his mother.

  23. My nephew runs all the poker tournaments and teevee events at Arias. From what I understand you are expected to come in with bills that have more than one zero on them there.

  24. First rule of poker: Believe what the cards say, not what people say.

    Second rule of poker: See first rule of poker.


  25. Well, you now find out whether the poker world is self-policing like the medical associations are. The next time Tony G signs up to play, the other players assigned to that table refuse to play with him. If all the professional players on the tour do that then Tony G is out and unwritten rules are enforced.

  26. What scr_north said. If Tony G. is passing out wooden nickels, then play at your own risk.

    If “no look” is such an essential part of Texas Hold ’em, why isn’t this piece of etiquette a rule instead of merely etiquette? It seems to me players are inviting a breach of a foundational rule and then whining about someone “breaking” it. Can’t have it both ways. Same for the example of the golf ball bet. If the bet is based on a random set of circumstances, the bet is off if the circumstances are known in advance. That’s not an honest bet, it’s a con.

  27. Lying is an integral part of poker. Bluffing is lying.

    If everyone is sitting at the table, is it Tony G’s fault no one saw him look at his cards?

    Likewise, is it against etiquette if someone is sloppy with their cards or wears stupid sunglasses that reflect their hand in the lenses so that opponents can see?

    Likewise, for a feint. You made me think you were weaker than you were. I wouldn’t have been so aggressive otherwise. No fair!

    A poker table is not a place where the search for The Last Honest Man begins. You are playing human nature as much as the cards.

  28. Never been a card player, little known about it. However the little bit I do sends out a sincere RIP to Ricky Jay. Wished they had made a movie with him dicing the hacks like Charles Bronson did, Poker Wish. I think it would have sold.
    A amazing talent he was.

  29. @Cliche Guevara is right. It’s called “bluffing”.
    It’s part of the game of poker. How one bluffs, and what one bluffs about is legal and fair. Raising the bet with a crap hand is a bluff, smiling is a bluff.
    Poker is a game of skill, many skills.

  30. I don’t play poker.

    That said, how did he “sneak” a look without the other players seeing him?
    Aren’t you supposed to pay attention to what the others are doing?
    Or are you just supposed to stare at Meg Tilly’s … uhh … eyebrows?

    izlamo delenda est …

  31. The blonde ain’t bad either……….. just saying.

    “Speaking the truth in times of universal deceit is a revolutionary act.” Geo. Orwell

  32. Srdem –

    Small blind opens 3x, big blind calls. The button raises all-in and says, “go home, I have aces.”

    He actually has a 9 and a 2.

    Legal and fair?

  33. A couple of things. To those that feel Tony G’s actions were in keeping with bluffing/lying and did not constitute a violation remember that it would seem that all the players with the exception of Tony G feel that calling a no look bet should require that the player really does not look at his hand and that Tony G’s actions were a violation of an unwritten agreement. In high stakes poker there is a certain honor code (however small) that needs to be followed.
    Also I had mentioned that one of the players should have seen him peek. I suspect that most of them did because you can bet that they are all looking hard at their opponents and everything they do at the table. I think the question is why didn’t anyone speak up the moment Tony G called his bet.

  34. I’ve played with friends, strangers and online. Like anyone who has ever seen Phil Helmuth before, what part of the Marquess of Queensberry rules of etiquette would his ritual insults and taunting to get under his opponents’ skin fall under? Chalk it up to good, clean fun.

    He didn’t tamper with his cards or cheat. As I saw it, the guy at the end of the table in black was the first to goad Phil by saying that he could bet comfortably because Tony G did not look at his cards and then he just went with it. Right in the first couple of seconds of the video.

    Is it better when you’re playing with friends or with someone who is drunk or in a diminished capacity and take their money? There are all kinds of gray areas when people are gambling or sport – over anything – not just cards.

    Football players who would send hookers to the opposing team the night before a big game. Bringing up someone’s off the field family or personal problems into the game.

    But both of those characters in that particular video have a history and I’m sure they thought turnabout was fair play.

    They do have the funniest announcers though: “I’m drinking your milkshake!”

    That shit had me rolling.

  35. Hey FUR, Just got up (10:30 AZ time). I played a tourney last night, finished 8th out of 67 and won $120 (Wheeh, slightly better than minimum wage 🙂 ) Got home at 2:30 AM!

    Tony’s prick move is legal and other players must watch what’s going on at all times. (Tilly’s titties are a calculated distraction on her part and I often fall victim to that.) That being said, Tony has incurred my wrath and in the future I will single him out for the slightest infraction whenever possible – illegal things like showing your neighbor your cards, talking about current hand, betting/folding out of turn. We all makes these errors, but dealers often let them go the first time with a warning. If Tony screws up, I would immediately call him out to the dealer and ask the floor to penalize him (usually 1 round/orbit penalty).

  36. Helmuth’s bet for $250,000, that Tony G. ask 20 professional poker players if they felt he crossed the line etiquette-wise, was not accepted.

    Everyone knows why.

    And Joe Hachem did not see Tony G. look at his cards, and when Tony G. wanted to sell his lie he got Hachem involved, and Hachem, seeing ace/king suited, wanted no part of it, saying, It’s between you and Phil, and acts oddly.

    Hachem would say that what Tony G. did was a scum move.

    Dan Harrington, a poker legend, put up this video under the title-

    Poker Jerks: Tony G angle shooting Phil Hellmuth

    Angle shooter is a term poker players use when describing scumbags and cheats. Those are some seriously strong words.

    These players are called angle shooters: players who willfully act against the spirit of the rules, if not against the strict letter of them, in an attempt to elicit information or an action from their opponent(s). There’s another word for this kind of person in all other games and sports: cheater.

    Angle Shooters and Scumbags and Cheats Oh My!
    Angle shooters, or “anglers,” as I like to call them, are the lowest of the low. An angler is typically a player who cannot beat the game when they’re playing straight up, so they shoot angles to make up for not being able to outplay their opponents.

    …anglers are out there. They are a fact of poker, and they are usually compulsive cheaters. I happen to know a particular player who attempted almost all of the angles we just discussed in just one live session. It was infuriating to watch!


    Notice that “bluffing” is not considered an angle shoot.
    Anyone conflating what Tony G. did with “bluffing,” well, it’s just not a good analogy.

    All in all, this is why I said in the post that it’s pretty funny that Tony G. is now a politician!


  37. Hellmuth should have known better. Tony G is an asshat and I wouldn’t believe a word he says.

    As for the last scenario BFH brought up with the button all-in raise, I have no problem with that. Stuff like that is said all the time. You have to learn when someone says something like that whether they are bluffing or not. The year Jamie Gold won the WSOP Main Event he would often tell people what his hole cards were to throw them off. Most of the time he was telling the truth but people thought he was bluffing. I can’t stand playing with people like that but you just have to deal with it. I normally don’t say a word during a hand and very few words between hands. FWIW, I won an in-house tournament (chopped 3 ways) at Green Valley Ranch in Las Vegas…$454 baby! I used to play a lot online but haven’t played in a long time thanks to John Kyl.

  38. Mojo.
    The scenario I set with the SB/BB/Button, and the button saying I have Aces, go away, is not only bad etiquette, it’s actually illegal.

    Remember, it’s a 3-way pot at this point.

  39. BFH, I did not know that was illegal. Is it because it’s 3 way? So even if he actually had A’s it would be illegal?

  40. Head’s up you can do the Jamie Gold/William Kassouf routines (I think it’s entertaining to watch, probably a pain in the ass to endure as a player.)
    Once it’s 3-way, and above, you cannot openly discuss your hand.
    You could be killing the action for the players who haven’t acted yet.

    What if player 2 has aces himself? When player one folds, the button loudmouth just killed his action and cost him money.

    It would be like a player behind you saying, out of turn, that he’s not going to call an all-in.

    That just changes everything. Now you know your call has one less player. It helps your decision and the all-in guy might be furious depending on whether he actually wanted a call or not.

    And that brings up a very good example of why what Tony G. did may not be “illegal” but it is scummy and poker players would just as soon beat the snot out of him for doing it.

    What if a guy behind me, after the guy in front shoved all-in, said, out of turn, he was going to fold.

    That induces a call by me because now I know I’m only up against one player.

    I call, then the player behind says, “fooled ya!” and then calls too!
    He acted out of turn to create an angle shoot.

    Will people just say, “oh well, you believed the liar”?

    You know, as well as I do, you would not last long getting games at a poker table doing that sort of shit, especially at the professional level.


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