What if you’ve won the hand, but want to show only one of your two hole cards?
And can you show only one card to your opponent if they’ve just mucked their hand?
The rule is quite simple, but I want to cover three possible scenarios.
If you can think of a situation that is not covered here, please leave a comment by clicking the button at the end of the article.
Alright, here we go…
1. Showing one card when your opponent folds
If you bet or raise, and everyone else folds, then you’ve won the pot.
In this case, you obviously don’t have to show your cards.
However, as the dealer passes you the pot, you can show only one of your cards to the table.
Typically, I see players do this to give an idea of the hand they may have had, and sometimes it’s misleading on purpose.
Keep in mind, whether you show only one card or both cards — the whole table must see. As the rule says, show one, show all.
Three in the hand. Player A flops a straight and makes a small bet. Both player B and C fold. As the dealer assigns the pot to the first player, they show only one of their cards. Because it’s very unlikely to hit a straight on the flop, it’s as if player A showed a bluff, or a straight draw at best.
2. Showing one card at the showdown
I’ve seen a few players lose a big pot just because they were not aware of this rule, so make sure you get this right.
At the showdown, unless your opponent has mucked their hand, you must show both cards to win the pot.
If you simply move your cards forward, one face up, one face down — that is a fold.
Most of the time, the dealer will instantly tell the player they must show both to win, so it won’t be an issue.
But like I said, there are times when this does not happen and your hand, which is the winning hand, goes in the muck.
Heads-up. Four clubs on the board. At the river, Player A bets the pot, and player B snap calls. Player A shows only one card — the jack of clubs — then throws both cards in the middle. Player B doesn’t say anything and the dealer mucks their hand, which was the winning hand. Player B wins.
3. Exposing one card during a hand
Not sure if I actually need to point this out, but it does happen from time to time, so here’s the rule.
You cannot expose one or both hole cards during a hand for any reason.
Unless it’s a genuine mistake.
So what happens in this case? Frustratingly, it depends entirely on the card room rules.
In some casinos, if you expose one of your cards (or both cards) during a hand, then your hand is dead.
Usually, your hand would still be live but you’d have no aggressive action, which means you can’t bet or raise — only check, call, or fold.
Four players. Ace, nine, three on the flop. Player A checks. Player B, who just sat at the table and doesn’t really know what they’re doing, exposes one of their cards — the ace of spades. The floor rules that although their hand is still live, they have no aggressive action during the current betting round as well as all other betting rounds.
Do you have to show your cards if you go all-in?
- In poker tournaments, if there is an all-in and a call and there is no more action (for example, a three way all-in pre-flop), then all players must show their cards instantly. The dealer will remind them if they forget.
- In cash poker, you don’t have to show your cards if you go all-in. In the example mentioned above, you could wait until the dealer deals all the community cards, and if you’ve lost the hand, you can just throw it in the muck without showing.
Who has to show cards first in poker?
Again, it depends on where you play. I know, it’s frustrating.
Typically, the last aggressor must show first.
Let’s say that, on the river, player A checks, player B bets, and both player C and A call their bet.
In this case, player B would have to show first regardless of their position. This is because they were the last to make an aggressive action (a bet).
Now, in the example above, what would happen if everyone checked the river?
This is where it can get a bit confusing. In some rooms, the first to show would be the last aggressor of the previous betting round. Or the previous one.
Conversely, in other rooms it would be the player who acted first (in this case, the first who checked).
To be honest, I have no idea which is more common. Either way, always ask the dealer if you’re not sure what to do at the showdown.
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