When playing poker and other betting games that use similar betting mechanics, it’s very important to follow proper etiquette. In games where money is on the line, etiquette is often not just there to be polite, but to help smooth the game and keep everyone on the same page.
One piece of poker etiquette that can trip up new players is where to put their bet. Novice players often assume that they should add their bet directly to the pot, simply adding it to the pile of chips. This is called splashing the pot and is considered poor form. The reason for why this is frowned upon is simple—when all the chips are amassed in one giant pool, it’s impossible to determine who has contributed and how much. That makes it difficult to determine who has called which raises and who still owes money to remain in the game.
The game flows much better if everyone avoids splashing the pot. Instead, simply place your bet in front of you. In casinos, the table will often have a betting line printed on the felt around the center of the table; anything placed inside the line is considered a bet. If no betting line is present, simply place your bet far enough in front of you that it is distinct from your other chips. When all bets have been settled and the betting round has concluded, it is the dealer’s responsibility to collect each player’s bet and combine them with the pot, thereby clearing the table for the start of the next round of betting (or the showdown).
If you notice players splashing the pot in your home game, you might consider explaining to them why it’s a bad idea. You’ll be glad you did the next time you have a complicated betting round with two or three players raising.