Those who are not yet familiar with poker, and in particular those who get there by passing through the blackjack tables, may think that there is a series of manual signals used by players to provide information or make the dealer understand their intentions.
A forgivable assumption, God forbid, but from the outset it is important to make some fundamental distinctions between other casino games and poker, in particular the main poker tournaments and cash games organized in the most important casinos.
In many casino games, including one called Texas Hold’em Poker (or Ultimate Texas Hold’em Poker), players play against the dealer who represents the “house”, ie the casino itself. Therefore, usually the signals of the players are of little importance and the same goes for the information they want to share about their cards or their betting intentions. The mechanics of the game are not affected by these things.
In what we can define as “normal” poker, however, it is very important not to divulge information to other players in a covert way. Any unconventional hand signals will not be frowned upon and will, in all likelihood, lead to a penalty.
It is also important to note that there are not many hand signals used by poker players during a normal game. A blackjack player can tap on the table to get another card, or pass a hand on the cloth to signal that he does not want any more; poker players actually knock on the table to indicate the check and nothing else. In poker there is no equivalent signal to “call card”.
That said, and since many players still get confused about hand signals in poker, here is a brief overview of how poker players use their hands.
When a player has to face an opponent’s move, and is deciding what to do about it, there is only one move that requires the use of hands. It’s the fold: the player must return the cards to the dealer. Of course, there are colorful ways to perform the same action. There is the exasperated fold, during which the player usually throws the cards blatantly in the muck. There is the angry fold, accompanied by a gasp and a more angry gesture towards the dealer. And then there is more passive and careless fold, which makes us understand how the player was not really interested in playing the hand. Finally there is the fold-without-thinking about it, with which the cards are thrown away even if they were radioactive. But none of the above alternatives are better than just gentle, slow, measured, conventional and no-nonsense folding. This way no one will be able to steal information to use against you later in the game.
More experienced players know this well, but beginners often fall for the proverbial “pear”: at the poker table, actions are almost always binding. If you say “call” then you cannot say “raise”, because you are tied to the first words that come out of your mouth. And this also applies to anything you do with your hands: if, for example, after an opponent’s bet you say nothing, but start moving your chips into the pot, this counts as a call. You cannot first put a few chips in front of you and then add more: this is called a string bet in jargon. Likewise, you cannot push the chips over the line and then take them back. The moment you take the action forward, it becomes binding. Therefore, even if there is no manual gesture that signals the “call” without verbal confirmation, any movement of your hands that contain chips, accompanied by silence, will be interpreted as such.
Again, if you remain silent while pushing chips over the bet line during a hand of poker, the gesture is considered binding. Therefore, if you do not declare your intentions it will be interpreted as a call (if the number of chips is less than or equal to the previous bet); only if you invest more chips than your opponent will it be considered a raise. The one exception – which you may often see in major tournaments – is the “one-chip call”. This means that if you put a single chip over the line – lower or higher in denomination than the bet – the gesture is considered a call. Be very careful, especially if you want to raise. It doesn’t matter if the chip is worth more than the bet – for example when you throw a 25k chip after a 5k bet: if there is only one chip and you don’t make any verbal announcements, yours will automatically be called.
Oh, now we think. The check is the only common move in poker for which there is a coded manual signal, among other things in various different ways. In practice, the check is done by hitting the table in some way, but while many amateurs (such as those of Celebrity Poker Showdown for example, or some other night TV program) do the classic “knock”, the more experienced use less recognizable methods. . Such as the single tap with the finger, common among those players used to reducing body movements to a minimum. They only move one finger, keeping every other part of the body rigid, in an attempt not to give information. Sometimes players have their arms crossed in front of the body, and with one hand hugging the opposite limb. So, they tap their triceps, signaling the check.
The main disadvantage of this not very obvious action is that it relies on the fact that the dealer a) notices the gesture or b) does not confuse something else for a check. If the dealer does not notice this, a misunderstanding could be created, with the player thinking that the action has continued, while the dealer is actually still waiting for a perceptible indication of his intentions. The other problem occurs when the player makes a tiny move before reaching the chips, causing the dealer to think about checking. At times, the intervention of the floorman may be necessary.
The only advice we can give to those who may fall into confusion, regarding the use of hands in poker, is this: when in doubt, declare your action. And the ambiguity disappears.