Poker is a game of information, and in many cases, players want to reveal as little as possible about the cards they’re holding. Sometimes showing your hand comes down to player etiquette, while other situations mandate that one or more players involved in a showdown have to turn over their hands.
If you’ve wondered when you have to show your hand in a game if poker, this article is for you.
Do You Have to Show Your Cards in Poker?
Some situations require players, by rule, to turn over their hands at showdown. At some poker rooms, if one or more players are all-in at showdown, all players must show their cards.
The all-in rule doesn’t apply at all poker rooms, however, particularly in cash games. Major tournaments, such as the World Series of Poker, require all players participating in a hand to show their cards if at least one player is all-in.
You’ve likely seen the dramatic showdowns that unfold at the WSOP, where players’ cards are placed face-up on the table and the dealer slowly deals out the board. You won’t see such drawn-out, dramatic showdowns in cash games at your local casino.
Some poker rooms are more strict than others when it comes to making players show their cards in an all-in situation in a cash game. More often than not, players won’t reveal their cards during an all-in showdown, and you’ll see the losing player frequently muck.
Other players at the table can request to see a mucked hand in an all-in showdown, and at many poker rooms the house rules oblige the dealer to show the mucked hand to the table.
Many poker rooms have a “show one, show all” rule in effect, where if a player shows hole cards to another player, they must show them to all players at the table.
Who Has to Show Cards First in Poker?
When players go to showdown, the player who made the last aggressive action (a bet or raise) is obligated to show their cards first.
At some poker rooms, this rule only applies to the river betting round. If all players check on the river, the player to the immediate left of the button must show their cards first.
Other poker rooms require that the last player that made an aggressive action on any street show their cards first. For example, let’s say the player in the big blind checks the turn, the button player bets, and the big blind calls. Both players then check on the river.
Certain poker rooms will require the button player to show first, as that player made the last aggressive action.
If the player that’s required to show first mucks in a heads-up pot, the other player automatically wins the hand, without having to show their cards.
Various poker rooms apply different rules to showdowns, so it’s always helpful to ask the floor how those rules apply at a particular venue.