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Thursday, November 22, 2007 | Adrian Milewski


In the game of poker, be it online or offline, the issue of ethics always comes up every now and then.

There have been many controversies recently about players resorting to unfair or unethical ways to win the game one of the biggest recently being the verbal tactics used by Jamie Gold when he won the World Series of Poker Main Event in 2006 and along with it the $12m top prize.

The World Poker Association has addressed this issue of ethics in poker by releasing its Ethics Code for poker players. The Ethics Code has been released mainly for poker tournaments with the aim of promoting an ethical standard in the game.

In order to obtain and continue the membership of the WPA, poker tournament operators must follow the ethics code set by the WPA. The ethics code of the WPA has five sections that have outlined in detail the professional poker behavior of the players taking part in the tournaments.

The Ethics Code outlined by the WPA board supplements the previously released Ethics Compliance Pledge of the WPA. The ethics code is designed to be a guide to fair and professional poker behavior and states guidelines to general provisions, relationship between the players, player and dealer relationships, relationship between the player and management, and the external relationships.

This ethics code will help in preventing collisions between players or the management of the tournament and others related to the game. Controversies arising in any form at the table are strictly banned by the ethics code of WPA. Professionalism and respect for players and the game is thus encouraged because of the ethics code.

WPA Ethics Code


  1. WPA members commit to support professionalism in all aspects of poker competition, recognizing that the play of each person’s poker hand is strictly an individual undertaking, and that any form of “team cooperation” with respect to the play of any poker hand is strictly prohibited.
  2. Members will use their best efforts to familiarize themselves with the rules and regulations associated with any poker event in which they participate, and to serve as role models for professionalism in all manner of competition.
  3. Members will use their best efforts to understand the laws that affect their legal rights and responsibilities as participants or audience members in any given poker competition. Members will use their best efforts to comply with applicable statutes, regulations, and ordinances that govern such competition.
  4. Members agree to treat all those involved in poker competitions with courtesy and respect. Members are expected to reflect admirable sportsmanship in the context of spirited competition.
  5. Members agree to refrain from engaging in verbal abuse in the course of competition.
  6. Members agree to refrain from initiating mean-spirited, vulgar, and otherwise abusive conduct, and shall use best efforts to defuse such conduct during the course of competition.
  7. Members agree to be respectful of their colleagues in their demeanor, conduct and grooming, in order to reflect favorably upon themselves and the competition.
  8. Members agree to be cooperative so as to assure appropriate consideration of industry colleagues with special needs as defined under the American with Disabilities Act, and such other bona fide handicaps for which special accommodations are in keeping with admirable sportsmanship.


  1. Players agree to act respectfully toward fellow participants in poker competition, regardless of their personal opinions about another competitor’s expertise at the table and without regard to any personality clashes they may have with such participants beyond the card room.
  2. Players shall refrain from engaging in offensive comments and argumentative discussion at the table that unduly disrupts the action.
  3. Players will not engage in conduct aiming to disadvantage other players through methods of inappropriate sportsmanship (e.g. such as occupying excessive space at the table, deliberately acting out of turn, commenting when not in the hand about a hand in progress, etc.)
  4. Players agree to respect cultural differences, and to refrain from comments and commentary that could reasonably be interpreted as derogatory to a cultural group.
  5. Players agree to respect spirited competition—including the use of psychological tactics and verbal inquiries that are designed to obtain information and tells about opponents, in keeping with good sportsmanship—provided that such tactics and conversation are not prohibited under the rules of the house or the tournament in progress.
  6. Players agree to respect the spirit of the rule, “one player to a hand,” and therefore shall not offer or solicit opportunity to see another player’s hand in progress.


  1. Players will treat dealers with a respectful, professional attitude, complying with all reasonable requests and decisions without protest.
  2. Players will inquire about a dealer decision if and when necessary, without personal hostility toward the dealer.
  3. Players will refrain from language or other conduct that is disrespectful toward a dealer, regardless of a dealer’s error or other technical deficiency.
  4. Dealers agree to refrain from all unnecessary discussion with players while at the table and shall not have a stake in the financial outcome of any player’s hand.
  5. Dealers agree to protect all players equally and enforce the rules consistently.
  6. Dealers agree to use best efforts to avoid controversy at the table and to diffuse controversy to the extent practicable, promptly.
  7. Players and dealers will report inappropriate conduct on the part of the other to a supervisor and when practical to discuss such conduct away from the table.


  1. Players shall respect management as the authority in the conduct of any poker competition and shall maintain a professional demeanor in the face of an adverse decision.
  2. Players shall refrain from denigrating supervisory and management personnel during the course of a competition unless or until a formal report with the tournament director or his representative is filed.
  3. Player inquiries regarding a decision shall be made when necessary to the appropriate supervisor or manager, in a professional businesslike manner, and without undue personal hostility.


  1. Members agree to use best efforts to further a positive image of poker players and tournament poker activities throughout the poker community.
  2. Members shall use best efforts to promote professionalism in poker by public conduct that reflects respect, professional etiquette, and admirable sportsmanship in their dealings with all those associated with the poker industry.
  3. Members shall support the development of economic opportunity for all those in the poker community who agree to abide by the WPA Code of Ethics.



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