Poker – Showing Your Hand

When you’ve won the pot without going to the showdown, how often should you show your hand? Approximately never.

Poker is a game of incomplete information. The less people know about your playing style the better off you are. Every time you reveal a hand you didn’t have to you’re giving your opponents free information on how you play.

I used to show kings and aces when I won a tournament hand without a showdown, to implant the idea that I only played solid hands. I thought this would make it easier for me to pull off a bluff later on. Then I saw other players doing it, realized it was a transparent and useless move, and stopped.

Last weekend, fairly early in a multi-table table home tournament, I folded a garbage hand that several people called. A king came up on the flop, and everyone checked to M, who went all in. The next to bet was his wife, who had a hard time deciding what to do. “I know him,” she said, “He’s got something.” She showed me her hand, a pair of queens. After thinking about it some more she folded. So did everyone else. He smiled and flashed his cards to the guy sitting on the other side of him. I caught a glimpse of them – garbage. It was a stone cold bluff.

About twenty minutes later I was in the big blind with a 9,7 off suit. Several people limped in, letting me see the flop for free. It came up K, 9, 5. Everyone checked to M, who said “I’m all in.”

I had just a few more chips than he did. If I lost this hand I’d be crippled and effectively out of the tournament. He smiled. I didn’t pick up on any tells, but his demeanor was the same as when he had bluffed his wife out of the pot. I said “You’re full of it. You ain’t got it. Call.”

Everyone else folded and we flipped our cards. He had a five in his hand. My pair of nines held up. I nearly doubled my stack and knocked him out of the game. It turned out that was a pivotal hand for me, giving me a chip lead to exploit. I finished third, in the money.

Someone at the table said “Wow, that was a great read.” I just smiled. I wasn’t going to tell him how I did it, how M had inadvertently given me the information I needed to beat him by revealing his hand to someone else. After all, poker is a game of incomplete information.

2 Comment(s)

  1. You do realize that you just told him how you did it?

    Don Venardos | Oct 27, 2007 | Reply

  2. Only if he reads this blog, which, to my knowledge, he doesn’t.

    Dave Hitt | Oct 28, 2007 | Reply

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