The Poker Floorman

A Floorman's perspective of the poker world

Protect Your Hand!

Protect your cards at all times!

This is a gigantic poker concept that cannot be stressed enough.

When playing poker online, your “cards” are an arrangement of pixels on your computer screen.  They cannot killed or declared dead by accident.  Your cards are “safe” online.

Not so in a Brick and Mortar (B&M) cardroom.  When you have real cards in your possession at a poker table, you need to protect them at all times.  The chips you have placed in the pot are your investment – protect that investment.  A protected hand cannot be taken by the dealer and put into the muck, it cannot be commingled with another players cards when he zings them across the table, it cannot somehow wind up on the floor, etc.

So, how do you protect your hand?  Keep your cards in your hand or have a few fingers pressing them to the felt at all times until the pot is pushed to you or until you voluntarily give them to the dealer.  That’s it.  Pretty simple, right?  Yet I have to make calls all the time about unprotected hands being compromised.

Many gaming jurisdictions and house rules allow for a poker chip, stack of chips or a small item to be placed on a players hand to protect it.  A word to the wise here:  placing a trinket on your cards really doesn’t “protect” them.  For example:  you have a cool WSOP medallion that you use as a “card protector” on top of your cards.  Another player is disgusted and fires his cards across the table when he folds and they slide straight under your “card protector” and mix with your cards.  This leaves the player in a tight spot, and many times his hand will simply be killed because his cards have been mixed with another players cards.  Holding your cards and really protecting them would have avoided this.

Here’s another example that I’ve seen many times, even at the WSOP:  a player goes all-in and there’s action going on between other players.  The dealer accidentally mucks the all-in players cards and they are irretrievably buried in the muck pile.  When the Floorman declares that the all-in players cards are dead, the player protests and says “I didn’t have any chips to protect them with!  I was all-in!”  Well, that player had fingers to protect his hand with but he chose not to use them.  That’s a tough lesson to learn.  No good Floorman likes making these calls, but we are obliged to follow the rules.

I can list dozens of examples of players not protecting their hands and losing the pot when they had the best hand.  One of the saddest examples is when a guy stands up at the showdown and spikes his winning hand triumphantly onto the felt, only to have one of his cards cartwheel off of the table onto the floor.  Many poker rooms regard cards that leave the table or hit the floor as “dead”, so this player ends up losing because of his own over-exuberance.  Simply turning over his hand and placing a finger on them until the pot was pushed to him would have avoided this.

Here’s a “Don’t Do This!” list:

  • Don’t leave your cards on the felt in an ambiguous way – like way out there where the dealer might think you folded.  He might just mix them into the muck.
  • Don’t rely on a trinket to “protect” your cards.
  • Don’t spike your cards or throw them in any way.
  • Don’t even toss your cards into the center of the table at a showdown – simply turn them over in front of you and hold onto them until you have the pot pushed to you.

Bottom line:  always have complete control over your cards and don’t open yourself up to a situation where your hand is compromised.  Do this and you may just save yourself from losing a pot that you should have won.


January 14, 2011 - Posted by | For Beginner Poker Players, Going from Online to B&M Poker, Poker Rules, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Man, thanks for the post. It is quite refreshing to read something other than a poker room review 🙂 you are bringing something unique and from your own experience.

    With that said, I cringed at the sheer idea of having my hand mucked even though I’ve won! Man, I would be so pissed I’d probably call the cops. Even though the casino would be right anyway. But I would be so pissed… 🙂

    Comment by poker101basics | January 14, 2011 | Reply

    • Hey Mark, It seems that we’re both a bit new to this blogging thing, unless you have other blogs out there. So we both want traffic to our blogs. I like what I’ve read on your blog so far and you seem to like my content, so why don’t we tag-team a little bit. We’ve both linked to each other on our blogs already which is great. The other day you Tweeted one of my posts and I got a bit of a boost in traffic that night, so I appreciate that. I’ve Tweeted your “Myths, Part 1” tonight and hope that helps you too.

      Let’s keep doing this bro. Obviously, if you don’t agree with something I’ve written I wouldn’t expect you to share it with anyone and the same goes for me. But working together could benefit us both. You seem to know a ton about online poker and I’m more of a brick & mortar guy, so we could easily feed off each other and boost both of out blogs.

      Happy blogging!


      Comment by John The Floorman | January 14, 2011 | Reply

    • By the way, what is your Twitter username so I can follow you? I’m “John The Floorman”.

      Comment by John The Floorman | January 14, 2011 | Reply

  2. Hi John!

    Yes you are right that I am completely new to the blogging scene, but I’m liking it a lot. The people in the community seem to be really friendly, which is real refreshment from what I’ve become used to posting on online poker forums 🙂

    I do love your content and I’m glad you like mine. And I would really enjoy making people aware of your articles, so I’m all up for it.

    My Twitter username is ggpokergg. Catch you there!

    P.s. I made a search for “John The Floorman” and couldn’t find you, maybe you’ll have better luck finding me 🙂

    Comment by poker101basics | January 15, 2011 | Reply

  3. And thanks for tweeting my article!

    Comment by poker101basics | January 15, 2011 | Reply

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