A Look at House Rules: The Order of Showdown

A Look at House Rules: The Order of Showdown 0001

Many times in a casino poker room an argument starts over who is first to show a hand when the final round of betting has taken place.

Obviously if a player is bluffing his or her way into winning the pot and has bet or raised on the last card — and is called — that player may throw the losing hand into the muck (the dead card pile) so it is irretrievable because the player doesn't want the rest of the players to know what he or she was running a stone cold bluff with.

But in the event that a hand goes to showdown and all the action is complete, who is first to show their hand? Here's how it works in most card rooms — but as always house rule is the governing factor:

Button games

In all games that use a button, the player who initiated the first action is also the first to show a hand.

Say Player A is the small blind, Player B is the big blind, and Player C is the button. If all three players check at showdown, Player A initiated the action and is first to show his or her hand, followed by Player B, and then Player C. Obviously if one of those players turns a hand up immediately and the other two players know they hold losing hands, they can muck without turning up their cards.

However, if on the final round Player A checks, Player B bets, Player C raises, and both Player A and B call, Player C is first to show. Here the hands are shown in order of “last aggressive action.”

If a player goes all in preflop, or on any street, and gets called, the all-in player is always first to show a hand.

Stud games

When all players check on the final card in a stud game, the high hand is obligated to show cards first — with the exception of razz in which the best low hand shows first.

Otherwise the player who initiated aggressive action on the final round of a stud game will be the first to show his or her hand. If the high hand checks, the second player bets, the third player calls, and the high hand calls, the second player is first to show a hand.

A player going all in in a stud game, even if it is for the amount of the ante only, would be first to show a hand when the action is complete on the last card.

Showing of cards

You must turn up all of your cards if you want to win the pot. Showing one card will not allow you to win any part of the pot if you have a caller. And you need to make sure you have your cards in front of you protected by your fingers or chips, because dealers are human and make mistakes.

The reason for showing all cards is to verify the integrity of the deck and fairness of the game. A player may have realized they had {K-Spades}{K-Spades} (i.e., two identical cards) when the hand started and instead of bringing it to the attention of the dealer, elected to play the hand out. It happens. It's also cheating. Any time you are in a poker game, be sure to pay attention to the game — and to all of the action, the players, and the showing of cards — for your own protection.

Home games

Your host may have ironed out all the issues concerning friends who get together every week for a friendly game of poker and the showing of hands might not ever be an issue. For the most part, if you bet a hand believing you have the best of it, why slow the game down by waiting for everyone to turn over hands (unless you believe the possibility of collusion exists)? Just turn up your cards with the hope that everyone else mucks their cards and you get the pot, then get ready for the next hand.

In some home games bragging rights are at stake, so you may want to laugh at your buddy who tried to beat you with a bad hand — it could be part of an ongoing rivalry that always erupts in laughter and fun. Keep the good times rolling in home games, but don’t laugh at your opponents in a casino poker room because it’s considered poor etiquette.

Online poker

When playing online poker, the software will turn up all hands that are involved in the final round for showdown — in order. If you missed seeing what everyone had at showdown, just check the instant replay or hand history to find out.

One specific opportunity afforded by online poker is that a player can never just throw cards into the muck at showdown after trying to run a bluff and getting called. You can always see what that player was playing and even check the instant replay to watch how the hand progressed.

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