The Poker Floorman

A Floorman's perspective of the poker world

The Poker Showdown – Part 2

In Poker Games, “Cards Speak”

One of the cardinal rules of poker is that “cards speak”, meaning that it really makes no difference what a poker player says he has.  If a players cards are shown flat on the felt at the showdown, his cards are what they are and his best poker hand will play, regardless of what he says.

From Robert’s Rules of Poker:
Cards speak (cards read for themselves). The dealer assists in reading hands, but players are responsible for holding onto their cards until the winner is declared.

Again we see the words “players are responsible…”

For example: at the showdown a player tables his hand in disgust and says, “Damn…I missed my straight” but he didn’t realize that he made a flush.  Well, he still has a flush and will win the pot if it’s the best hand.  It doesn’t matter what he said (or thought) he had.

On the other hand, if a player miscalls his hand the other way, like “I have the straight” when he really has nothing, it’s your responsibility to be sure what he has before mucking your cards.

Robert’s Rules says that “Although verbal declarations as to the contents of a hand are not binding, deliberately miscalling a hand with the intent of causing another player to discard a winning hand is unethical and may result in forfeiture of the pot.

The key word in Robert’s Rule here is “may”.  It will depend on the Floormans ruling if it comes to that, so protect yourself and be sure that you know that your opponent has beat you before mucking your hand.  Of course, simply tabling your hand at the showdown and protecting your hand until a winner is declared would avoid this altogether.

Show One, Show All (SOSA)

It just makes sense.  All players involved in a hand are entitled to the same information.  So if a player shows his cards to another player, everyone should be allowed to see those cards.

But what if a player still involved in a hand shows his cards to a guy who has already folded?  Yes, everyone at the table is still entitled to see those cards if someone asks to see them.  So those cards should be held aside by the dealer until the hand is over, then shown to everyone when the hand is over, if someone asks to see them.

It’s as simple as that, although I have seen huge arguments erupt about it time and time again.

Picture this:  a player is betting big on every street but gets a surprise check-raise from a player on the river.  The player says to the guy next to him “Can you believe that sh*t?” while showing him his hand, then mucks.  If another player on the table asks to see his hand, the dealer is obliged to show it under the “show one, show all” rule.

Keep this in mind:  Much like the IWTSTH rule, the hand will usually be shown only if a player requests that it be shown (it’s not automatic), so this rule should be used by poker players selectively.

Poker players tend to like to share their misfortunes with others when they get beat.  How many bad beat stories have you heard?  Typically, showing a hand to a neighbor is just a “can you believe how unlucky I am?” gesture and not something that everyone at the table will be amazed to see and remember the next time they are playing against that player.  Of course it is you right to request to see that hand, but…

Repeatedly asking to see a players hand when they show another player that’s not involved in the hand can be seen as annoying and unnecessary.  The rule has it’s place, but use it sparingly and only when you feel it’s necessary.  If the guy is mucking but shows his neighbor first and you are taking the pot, be happy that you’re taking the pot and don’t rub it in.  Sure, you have the right to see those cards.  But don’t abuse that right.

Who Shows Their Cards First?

Holy cow!  This is a giant pain in the ass in the poker room and I really don’t get it.

The hand dramatically plays out….and the showdown finally arrives….the players are all anxious to see who wins the pot………..but nobody wants to show their cards to see who wins!  “I called you – you show first!”  “No, I called YOU – you show first!”  “Well, I’m all in so I show last”.  WTF?!?  Just show your hand so we can award the pot and move on to the next hand!!  What’s wrong with you people?

OK, so here’s the official explanation for who show’s first (I wish everyone would just show at the same time!! 🙂

1)  If everyone checks on the last betting round, the player who naturally acts first is the first to show his hand.

2)  If there is betting on the last betting round, the player who has taken the last “aggressive action” (bet or raise) will show first.

(Please note that local rules may vary – and this is one rule that may vary greatly)

Examples always work best:

1)  On the river, there are three players.  All three check (for whatever reason).  The player furthest away from the button should show first followed by the players going clockwise from the button.

2)  On the river, there are three players.  Player 1 checks.  Player 2 bets.  Player 3 calls and Player 1 calls.  Since player 2 is the “aggressor” he should show first, followed by Player 3, then Player 1.

3)  On the river, there are three players.  Player 1 checks.  Player 2 bets.  Player 3 raises.  Player 1 and player 2 call.  Player 3 should show first, as he is the last “aggressor”, followed by Player 1, then Player 2.

I have seen rooms where the “aggressive action” rule goes back to the previous street if it’s checked down on the river, but I think this is a little silly.  It’s called a “showdown” for a reason!  “Show down” your damn cards and see who wins!


January 25, 2011 - Posted by | For Beginner Poker Players, Going from Online to B&M Poker, Poker Rules | , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Haha, a very entertaining read, and it is funny because there is so much truth in it all 🙂

    Comment by poker101basics | January 28, 2011 | Reply

  2. You need some photographs…. I know just the guy to do it.

    Comment by Mike | February 12, 2011 | Reply

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