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The Seven Deadly Sins of Online Poker

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Inspired by Victoria Coren Mitchell’s Easter Sunday resurrection, Jack Beresford seeks biblical guidance on online poker.

For some, poker represents a kind of quasi-religion – worshipped feverishly amid notions of some great, unseen power that controls the cards and fates dealt – which may help explain why Victoria Coren Mitchell’s historic second win at the European Poker Tour on Easter Sunday attracted so much celebration.

While such beliefs are alien to me, it started me wondering whether the Good Book held any lessons about avoiding bad online poker. Here, then, are my very own seven deadly sins of online poker.

Lust – Though not strictly lust in the biblical sense, a common complaint concerns players who “lust” after an opponent’s hand, offering advice or even discussing the cards being played in a hand they have no involvement in. Not to be confused with table talk, this is widely regarded as unethical and just plain annoying. Wait your turn.

Gluttony – Don’t let food get in the way of your playing. I’ve experienced incidents both online and first hand with friends where I’ve seen play impaired by salsa dip spillages and spontaneous breaks for sandwiches or, worse still, microwave pizza. Keep it simple and to a minimum during game time.

Greed – When you first start playing poker, your first few games can often shape your approach from then on. Early success can lead to greed, with many opting to play multiple hands across multiple tables. Not only is this a bad move for any but the most hardened pros, it can be damned annoying when you are waiting for someone to play a hand, knowing full well they are occupied.

Sloth – This essentially boils down to laziness in online poker and can take many forms. For some, keeping up with the game is deemed somehow beneath them, leading to slow betting decisions and missed turns. Do not underestimate how annoying this can be for other players – do it too often and you may get a bad reputation.post your blinds before the dealing starts, and saves delay between hands.

Wrath – Sometimes a hand can get a little charged. Maybe there’s been a bit of backchat, maybe the stakes are high, but whatever the reason, you should never react angrily to the outcome of a hand. Meet defeat with dignity – and vow to get the bastards back another time.

Envy – Often in online poker you may notice that an opponent has a great hand but doesn’t know how to play it. They may make a mistake that showcases their particular inexperience. Don’t berate them for it. We were all bad players once and we’ve all misjudged a hand before, so you know the last thing you want to hear is something along the lines of “you didn’t want to do that.” Besides, don’t you want other players to be worse than you?

Pride – Picture the scene: you’ve just folded with an Ace 5 when the flop comes down and you realise, to your horror, that you would have had a strong hand. So what do you do? Tell everyone about the hand that never was in some faint bid at redeeming yourself and restating your online poker prowess? Wrong. Let the hand play out and swallow your pride. There will be other cards.

Image ‘Lujuria / Lust: Pecado Original’ by  Gabriel S. Delgado C

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