Do What David Lappin Says, Not What He Did

Sometimes, the best way to learn a lesson is to make a mistake — and that's exactly what online poker pro-David Lappin did. Discover what Lappin learned about poker etiquette when he moved from his online comfort zone, to the felt.


David Lappin is a pro who’s been a poker blogger, coach, staker, and streamer, who’s known for his online game. He runs ‘The Chip Race’, a popular poker podcast, and their corresponding channel, The Chip Race channel, where he hosts the web show ‘The Lock-In’.

Etiquette means behaving yourself a little better than is absolutely essential. The rules are the rules, but they don’t cover everything. What’s leftover is in the realm of etiquette.

In the game of cricket, this idea is formalized as ‘the spirit of the game’. In a game of poker, there are accepted ‘dos and don’ts, unenforceable but expected, unpunishable except for the cost to one’s reputation. 

In my fifteen years playing poker, I have seen plenty of bad beats, bad rulings, and bad play. I have also witnessed some bad behavior and on a few occasions, I was the man behaving badly.

Here is the first in my blog trilogy which details three times my conduct was less than sportsmanlike when my behavior fell short of ‘ambassadorial’. 

Angle-shooting in Amsterdam: An Irishman Abroad

Back in February, I was invited onto the ‘First Flag’ podcast, hosted by Roland Boothby. The experience took me back to my first Hendon Mob recorded live tournament cash in the Holland Casino in Amsterdam. 

It was November 2007 and I stumbled in off the street looking for a $1/$2 cash game on vacation. I was a low-stakes online player cutting my teeth in sit n’ goes at the time. I reached the point where I wasn’t losing my deposits anymore, but my results were extremely modest, and my live experience was close to zero. 

Banners on the wall informed me that something called the Dutch Masters was taking place, a prestigious event steeped in poker history. I now know that it’s the second-longest-running annual poker festival in Europe after the Irish Open but at the time, I was completely unaware of its significance. 

A small side event was starting with a buy-in of USD $234.40/€200. That’s exactly what I planned to buy into the cash game for so I decided to give it a whirl, oblivious to the fact that it was a rebuy/add-on tournament. 

Taking my seat, I noticed some familiar faces, familiar in the sense that I’d seen them on poker TV shows. Noah Boeken was at my table and Marcel Luske was on the table next to mine. I remember feeling intimidated by the pace of play. The action always seemed to be on me — it is precisely that feeling that induced my first error.

A Mistake Cost Me 20% of my Stack

There was a raise from mid-position to three times the big blind. The action was folded to me on the button — or so I thought. I looked down at Ace-Jack suited, announced ‘Call’ and put out three big blinds. My heart sank when the dealer told me that the raise was actually ten big blinds, 20% of my stack.

I was confused until he gestured to the player in the cut-off who was sitting in the 9-seat. Sure enough, he had re-raised, an action I hadn’t spotted from the 1-seat. 

poker chip stacks

Don’t bet chips you’re unwilling to lose.

I felt like a complete newbie. Because I had verbalized ‘Call’ before putting out chips, I was deemed to have called the ten big blinds. Clearly reluctant and begrudging, I put out the bet. The original raiser shoved, the 3-bettor folded and I had to fold too, having donated away a chunk of my stack. 

I felt a mixture of embarrassment and self-loathing as I sat there seething, and it didn’t help that I now knew it was a rebuy event. As players merrily flicked in buy-in after buy-in, gambling for a big stack, I knew I had not really entered a USD $234/€200 tournament. I didn’t even have the money on me for an add-on if I could even get that far. 

My stack got short but then I won a couple of small pots and a crucial 3-way all-in with Queens against Jacks and Ace-King. Then, as the end of the rebuy period was approaching, there came a moment I’m not proud of.

I Saw The Gap

There was a raise to three and a half times the big blind from early position. I glanced down at my cards to see two black aces. ‘Nice’, I thought.

The action folded around to the player in the 9-seat who raised it to eleven big blinds. Like a race-car driver who sees the gap, I knew what I must do (and, for the record, I didn’t know at the time that it was bad etiquette).

I nonchalantly announced ‘Call’ and threw out the chips matching the first bet. Again, the dealer explained my mistake. Cue what I assume was some Grade A Hollywood acting as I sighed, shook my head, and aggressively plonked out the price of the 3-bet. The original raiser shoved, the 3-bettor folded and I snap-called, proudly tabling my Aces whilst scanning the room for any Academy Award members who might deem my performance Oscar-worthy. 

My pocket aces held versus pocket jacks and I had a decent enough stack to squeeze into a min-cash despite not having the price of an add-on. It’s fair to say my table-mates were unimpressed with my shenanigans and as they all backed one another up as to the wrongness of what I had done, it began to dawn on me that my actions had been at best a faux-pas and, at worst, a filthy angle-shoot.

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David Lappin

David Lappin is an Irishman who started his poker career in 2006, building up a roll from scratch playing online SNGs and live MTTs. Since, he’s made over $800K online and has cashed over 140 times, with 70 final tables & 11 wins in 23 different countries for over $575K. Lappin’s a coach, staker, blogger and Twitch streamer. He’s a freelance writer, The Chip Race & The Lock-In host & producer. He’s been a commentator for the Irish Poker Open, the Malta Poker Festival, the MPN, the Polk vs. Neagreanu Grudge Match and Unibet Open. David became a Unibet Poker Ambassador in March of 2017.

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