Sportsmanship, aka Don't Be a Jerk


Poker isn't just about winning, or at least it shouldn't be.  Players should treat the game and their opponents (and the dealers) with respect.  Even 'bad players' who suck out on the river - they wouldn't be drawing to few or no outs on the turn if they were 'good players' - deserve respect.

Let's say you raise A-K, flop a king, and lose to someone holding K-3 when a 3 falls on the river.

What's the right response?  "Nice hand."  Not, "Man you have to be a great player to call me down with such a strong kicker. Didn't you KNOW you were beat when I three-bet the turn?"

By simply saying "Nice hand" and not getting nasty, you show yourself as someone who is not just a good player and good winner, but a good loser and good sport.  You show character and, of lesser import, you keep the 'fish' in the game longer, enabling you a great chance to win your money back, and then some.

So next time you have the urge to lash out after losing to a bad play, remember this: Sportsmanship wins the day.

PS – Probably the dumbest and most absurd beat I ever took was when I raised A-K, got smooth called by the button (no one else entering), flopped a King on a rag flop, and was outdrawn by a player who drew a 2 on the turn and 3 on the river to match his 2-3 offsuit hand.  He won with two pair.  After this amazing and ridiculous suck-out, he didn’t even raise my river bet (I’d been betting every street). 

"Nice hand Stevie!", I said in amazement, and I meant it.

- E. Mark the "e-Shark" Gross