Monday, December 21, 2009

Showing just one

It's easy to understand how some habits that are either against the rules or considered bad form in casinos get established: they grow in home games in which such conduct is accepted or even encouraged. One of the home-game tournament series in which my friend Cardgrrl plays regularly, and at which I joined her for a couple of sessions in October, is player-dealt; without a dedicated dealer, each player is responsible for making his or her own change for bets from the pot. Players get used to doing this, come to a casino for the first time, assume that the same procedure applies, and are suprised when they get their hand slapped by the dealer. Similarly, many home games have little or no effective ban on talking about the hand in progress, and veterans of those games tend to be surprised when other players or dealers object to them announcing out loud what cards they folded, or speculating about what cards people are holding.

But there are some habits the origins of which I have a hard time understanding. The one that I've been thinking about lately is the ugly tendency to show just one of the two down cards when called on the final round of betting.

I was playing Saturday at Harrah's, my first venture out into the world after surving hantavirus, or whatever the hell it was that had me down all last week. (I picked Harrah's because I needed less than one more hour to qualify for Platinum status there. I made it, and picked up my spiffy new card on the way out.) I picked up A-K offsuit in late position, and raised to, I think, $12. Two callers: the big blind plus a limper. Flop was K-x-x, with no flush or straight draws. They both checked to me. I bet $25. Woman in the big blind called, other guy folded. Turn was an apparent blank. She checked to me again. I bet $45. She called. River was yet another blank, as far as I could tell. Suddenly the big blind took charge and bet $50. I didn't think that she had been slow-playing a set or other big hand, based on both body language and the betting pattern. She couldn't have been chasing a draw, so I had the sinking feeling that she had been playing a weak king and hit a lucky two pair on the river. But with top pair/top kicker, and a $50 call to maybe win a $225 pot, a call seemed virtually automatic--so that's what I did.

My opponent at this point peeked at her cards again, picked the one she wanted to show, and turned over a king. She then stared at me, waiting, apparently, for me to do something. Well, what I did was stare right back at her. I didn't feel like telling her that she was obligated to either show her hand or muck it. I assumed that she would figure out soon enough that I wasn't going to budge. It took ten seconds or so, plus another playing prodding her with, "He called you, so you have to show first," before she finally turned over her other card--a 5 (which did not pair the board). I then showed my winner.

To get back to my original point, are there really home games in which this is considered adequate, in which a player can expect that showing one card will be accepted by the other players if it's enough to win? In this situation, if I didn't have a hand that beat her top pair, would she really expect me to muck without seeing both of her cards in whatever home game she came from? (I should add that from her chip-shuffling dexterity and conversation about strategy, it was clear that she had a decent amount of experience playing the game, though I have no way of knowing if this was her first time in a casino or her thousandth.)

I just have a hard time believing that home games are routinely so casual on this point. Don't those involved (1) want more information about what their opponents are playing, and (2) understand that the rule serves game integrity by helping to ensure that the winner has a valid hand (i.e., no fouled deck, such as two of the same card, and the right number of hole cards)? Those of you with more experience in home games, I'd appreciate sharing in the comments what you have observed.

But now a digression on the etiquette of the matter.

In July I ranted about the seemingly increasing trend for players, when called on the river, to not show their cards, but instead start asking the caller what he has. This is just another variation on the same theme. Yet another variation is the angle-shooter who tries to never show unless he has the winner; these dirtbags will take advantage of the fact that sooner or later many opponents will feel the social pressure for somebody to reveal a hand, and wait to see what the caller has before mucking a loser or showing a winner. Although motivations and the exact technique vary, it's all pretty much the same to me. It all amounts to an ugly violation of both rules and etiquette.

I recounted this incident to Cardgrrl the day it happened. Although mildly sympathetic, she was of the opinion that I was making too much of it. She suggested that another way of handling the situation was just to show and be done with it, without worrying about forcing one's opponent to comply with the rules first. In essence: It's a showdown, so just show and get it over with.

There is, I must admit, some merit to this approach: 1. You are never the cause of the game being delayed. 2. You never accidentally muck the winner by misreading your own hand, your opponent's hand, or the board. 3. You never cause resentment in others.

But there are downsides, too. 1. You give away information unnecessarily. 2. You encourage the dirtbags and angle-shooters to continue their irritating and/or slimy ways. 3. You fail to gain information on your opponents' play to which you are rightly entitled, and which might be valuable.

On that last point, consider what this woman's final bet told me, once she had revealed her cards. First, I learned that she's a bad enough player to think that it was smart to take K-5 offsuit, from out of position, up against a raise from a player she had to know was tight and solid, and, furthermore, to call bets with it on the flop and turn.

More subtly, though, I learned that she has enough understanding of strategy to deploy a blocking or defensive bet--which is what I think we have to conclude her river $50 was. She understood that if I had a medium-strength hand, it would be hard for me to raise her, and a smallish bet such as she made might cost her less than checking and calling whatever I might choose to bet there (and she might well feel obligated to make the crying call with top pair). If I raised her, she could then confidently conclude she was beat and fold. It was a pretty smart move, because I indeed might have bet bigger than $50, but couldn't raise with just one pair in that spot.

It was a weird juxtaposition--this apparently moderately sophisticated river bet, combined with a willingness to play a hand a good player should have known to throw away from the get-go. And those were both useful pieces of information that I would have missed out on if I had just accepted her one-card-show.

Against Cardgrrl's position, there's also this argument from analogy: We have the rule in this country that you drive on the right-hand side of the road. Once in a while, somebody comes along going the wrong way into traffic, because they think it's one-way their way, or they're drunk or otherwise confused, or maybe suicidal, or maybe they just think it's a free country and they can drive wherever they want to. We could all just choose to ignore it, swerve around them and continue on our way. But there is obviously great social utility in forcing compliance with this rule. For that reason, I'm glad that we have police that will forcibly arrest those who fail to comply, and a judicial system that will sort out and variously deal with different levels of intentionality/culpability.

Similarly, there is considerable social utility to the standard protocol for the order of showdown in poker. Yes, one could just tolerate and excuse/forgive the occasional nonconformer, with the attitude that there are bigger things to worry about. But I think there is a greater, long-term good served by making sure that all players understand the rules of the road and abide by them, and that driving on the wrong side is not OK. There is an established protocol for order of showdown, and everybody's interests are best served by having everybody correctly and efficiently abide by it. Of course, there's no need to go throwing people in jail for first offenses here; obviously, some players really are just new and don't understand. I'm all in favor of kind, gentle education for such. For the deliberate offenders, though, tasering is in order, at the very least.

I can't object to those who, like Cardgrrl, choose to disregard the violations and just conduct themselves in a completely unobjectionable way without regard for what others do. But I think it is better for the game in the long run if we make clear to all that conformity with the rules and etiquette will be required.


tc said...

With all of the home games I've been to, the "show one card" is pretty much made acceptable by the large amount of drinking going on and the fact that the players are generally so bad that those that know the proper etiquette (like myself) don't want to pinpoint themselves as an experienced player by pointing out the correct way.

So the profitable thing to do is just keep your mouth shut, let the donks do whatever they want, and collect their money.

Cardgrrl said...

Much as it pains me, I beg to disagree yet further.

First of all, the argument that 'enforcing' the showdown etiquette is analogous to requiring people to drive on the correct side of the street is both strained and unhelpful. No one will DIE if, at showdown, you just expeditiously claim the pot with your winning hand, routinely. In fact, there will rarely be any truly negative consequences, either to you or the flow of the game.

Further, there are more benefits to the swift showdown than those you enumerate. If you do not force someone to show their second card, they may continue with their suboptimal play; they have not been embarrassed by being forced to show their idiotic weak kicker. They will be less likely to avoid playing against you in the future, which is of course what you want! No one likes to look foolish. Let them make their tactical errors in peace, don't call attention to them! In fact, I happily flip over my AK, and when the opponent mucks I murmur something consolatory like "bad luck" or "I got lucky."

Being the table nit slows the game, tells everyone that you take the game VERY seriously, and generally kills any semblance of congenial gambool. Instead, with your staredown, you make the atmosphere adversarial and hostile. Why would you want to do that?

I also think you seriously overstate the downsides.

1. What information are you REALLY giving away unnecessarily? That you played AK successfully? That you have the winning hand? That under certain circumstances you're willing to call down with TPTK? That you made a good read on a river bet? If you're playing decent poker, 99% of the time the hand you showdown is not going to embarrass you or utterly surprise anyone who is paying attention. And if it does, so what? Use that to confound them the *next* time.

2. Those "dirtbags and angle-shooters" are gaining little with this silly maneuver other than, apparently, successfully irritating you.

3. Just I don't think you will give much away by waiting to show down your own hand, I don't think you gain as much as you lose (in goodwill, time wasted, etc.) by forcing the other person to reveal the losing hand. What do you learn that you didn't already know, really? The opponent played a weak king and made a blocking bet on the river: how much does it matter whether the kicker was a 5 or a 10 or Q? Let her "muck with dignity" and claim the pot promptly, humbly, and cheerfully!

In sum, and especially at 1/2, there just isn't that enough to be gained in terms of handreading subtleties to make it worth slowing the game and garnering ill-will in the name of being a stickler for the rules. I NEVER want to be the 'bad guy' (of course I'm not really a 'bad guy' if I'm right, am I? well, YES, because good times are paramount unless an *egregious* breach is in progress) at the table. Let the dealer enforce protocol, if necessary.

The argument from "social utility" is a good one; I simply disagree with the way you are applying it. The greatest social utility at the poker table is the smooth flow of traffic. Keep the game moving, well-lubricated, happy, and congenial. Leaning on your horn in such circumstances just annoys everyone at the table, and rarely improves the behavior of others. An analogy would be the cop who pulls someone over, blocking two lanes of traffic in the middle of a bridge at rush hour, because the offender failed to signal when changing lanes at 2 miles an hour: the resulting traffic jam is much more troublesome to everyone else than the original offense and just breeds disrespect for the judgment of law enforcement.

carl said...

I have to agree with Cardgrrl.

Being the rules police tends to be -EV. Especially on this point. If the table is easygoing and friendly, keep it so.

Here's how to read the river action. Flipping up (only) a king means K9, at best. Probably 8 or lower, and 80% of the time, I'd say the kicker doesn't play.

About the only info you miss out on here is whether they only show a suited king in this spot. But, really, does it matter?

Keep it a "friendly" game. That's more +EV than any info you get here.

Now, that's all out the window if they're the sort of DB/angle shooter who slow rolls 2 pair in that spot. But, at that point, they killed the friendly game, not you.

Rakewell said...

One might also say that what kills the friendly nature of the game is somebody who is under the obligation of showing her hand taking extra time to peek in order to select just one card to show, rather than just flipping them both up, as she is supposed to do. Isn't wasting everybody else's time--particulary when it is in an attempt to escape one's ethical responsbility--reasonably deemed a friendliness killer?

I have a hard time seeing myself as the bad guy here. She is the one who is breaking the rules, breaching etiquette, wasting the time of 10 other people, slowing the game down, acting shadily.

Cardgrrl said...

Any time there is a stony, prolonged, uncomfortable halt to the game that you could end by flipping your cards, you are the/a defacto "bad guy" as far as the table is concerned. Not worth it, IMO.

Big-O said...

I'd like to hear what the correct tournament rules for a situation like this.
I was heads up with another player and called his river bet.
He didn't have anything and was just making a play for the pot, so he mucked.
No one asked to see my hand, so after I made sure the dealer pushed me the pot, I mucked.
However, I remember seeing a tournament on TV (main event I think) when the same situation arose.
Two players were heads up, the player whom had bet and was consequently called, he immediately mucked, then a player not in the hand asked to see the cards of the player that had called.
The player requesting to see the cards of the player that had made the call said something to the effect "it's a called hand."
Seems to me that the "called hand" was the hand of the player making a play for the pot and the person making the call should be under no obligation to show anything once the other hand is mucked.
If anyone knows the correct tournament rules for this situation I'd like to hear them.
Oh...and I should point out that this wasn't an all-in situation.

Rakewell said...

I disagree. *I* certainly have no difficulty knowing who is failing to act according to protocol, and thus is the villain responsible for bringing the game to a halt. I don't blame the innocent party.

BTW, you have usually advocated a never-show-unless-you-have-to policy. (E.g., here: That does not seem easily reconcilable with being willing to show unnecessarily at every showdown.

Michael (@jinxclev) said...

Interesting post and discussion, I tend to lean toward the side of just show. If they lay down without showing the second, then it still tells you enough to know they played crap or were on a draw.

In my opinion displaying your hand even when called and you are 90% sure you won isn't going to lose you a ton of information, I tend to show regardless, except for very rare instances where I'll muck because I feel it would be beneficial to my image at the table. It's no different then showing a missed bluff once in a while to display a wild man side, you are unlikely to do it all the time, but occassionally it's beneficial.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with Cardgrrl. I used to have your attitude about being right and feeling a need to ensure everyone else follows the rules. And although I was right and the other person was wrong, I came off just as wrong for how I handled the situations.

It took me a while to realize that some battles were not worth fighting no matter how right I was, because of the collateral damage it can cause. I learned to pick my battles and when I did enter into combat, instead of being the tank and just blasting in, I learned to be the sniper and pick off my target without causing collateral damage. It was like playing a hand masterfully in which I learned how to come out of ahead without making everyone around me feel uncomfortable.

I learned you can still be right and tell the other person they are wrong, without doing so bluntly. So pick your battles carefully and when you do, approach it artfully where everyone leaves feeling better.

Ray said...

In this situation you should have done the following:

After she shows her king, you playfully show your king. You can even throw in a chuckle as you do this. [No need to worry that you are giving away information here as once she shows 1 king you are virtually assured that she wont show you a winning hand snce most people don't show 2 pair that way.]

She will most likely sigh and show her 5 and then you can show your ace and claim the pot.

By doing this you can accomplish the same thing as you can by doing it your way and if you want to let it be known afterwards that she was obligated to show 1st, you can even playfully ask the dealer: "Hey by the way, who was supposed show 1st there??"

What will inevitably ensue is a table-wide debate that will end with you getting a MUCH better idea regarding the overall poker knowledge of many of your opponents.

Plus you don't piss off Cardgrl because you were a nice guy!!

Your welcome in advance!

Cardgrrl said...

Enjoy being correct and knowing it.

That won't stop other people from being annoyed and it won't move the game along and keep the atmosphere light. When you do roll over your winner most people will secretly be saying to themselves, "Why didn't he just show?" Being right may or may not be the highest good in these circumstances.

My views on the value of information at showdown have evolved over time, and particularly in instances exactly as you describe... where I think the value of keeping things fleet & upbeat outweighs the importance of keeping my hands as obscure as possible.

Rakewell said...

I suppose I don't have the same insight into what "most people" "secretly" say to themselves that you do. How do you obtain this knowledge?

It seems to me that if I am irritated by the person who is slowing things down by not showing when rules and etiquette require it, others at the table might be, too. They might know who is responsible, and thus where their annoyance should be directed.

But since I, for one, don't know the secret thoughts of "most people," I'm just guessing about that.

Cardgrrl said...

If most people cared about these points of protocol and proper play as much as you do, there'd be nothing for you to be grumpy about.

I, for one, am GLAD that most of the recreational poker players you encounter aren't either especially well-versed in or particularly concerned about these matters, because I love reading your blog.

carl said...

You mentioned not being the bad guy, and you're right. You're 100% entitled to have her show. I don't think that's the point Cardgrrl (or I) is making.

By forcing her to table her hand, I think you're outing yourself to some extent. Now, you're the guy who knows what he's doing. The guy who's taking the game and the rules seriously.

In a game with players on vacation, drinking, and playing to have a good time, that seems like a move that will cost you money.

It seems especially odd to me since in your other posts, you talk about trying to blend in, not chat it up, etc. Asking for rule enforcement, or knowing the rules at all, causes you to stick out.

I won't dispute that having this extra info is probably +EV. But, by accepting 90% of the info (weak king vs. K5 exactly), you can keep from giving away the fact that you're playing seriously. That has to be more +EV.

EDakaEH said...

I agree with the grump for players not showing any cards and trying to get away it.

When opponent shows one, I agree with cardgirl about "most people" "secretly" think.

If you're a decent poker player, you spend hours at a time trying to understand how the fish think. If you're a winning poker player, you probably have a good understanding of how the fish think.

I'd bet the fish definitely wonder why you didn't just show and end the wait. They see someone showing one card as enough, and are waiting for you to respond.

Also as someone who plays more in home games than in casinos, it doesn't have to be a home game thing. Doesn't happen in any of the games I play in. Happens a decent amount in the casinos because the overall skill of dealers is horrible. Usually not true with the home game dealers.

Rakewell said...

Some last (probably) miscellaneous thoughts.

Carl, I think you have misread Cardgrrl. She has twice now explicitly labeled me as the bad guy in this situation, in addition to saying that my actions "make the atmosphere adversarial and hostile," which is pretty much the same thing, I suppose. I'm glad you don't think that I was the bad guy in this situation, but she demonstrably does. I continue to disagree with that characterization. It is beyond my comprehension how simply sitting there patiently waiting for my opponent to do what the rules require of her makes me "bad" in any meaningful sense of the word.

I'm also struck by how those who disagree with me condemn me for, among other things, causing annoyance to other players. Yet not one of them has acknowledge that the woman in this hand triggered annoyance, too--at least in me, and I think it's reasonable to assume in others. It's odd that only my alleged infliction of irritation is condemned by my commenters, while hers is, apparently, completely forgiven, at least as judged by the complete lack of equivalent condemnation. It is hard for me to understand the discrepancy.

I don't think any one such incident is going to "out" me as taking the game seriously. I think that pretty much anybody who plays with me would make that assessment within the first five minutes--maybe five seconds. Is that something I should change? Maybe. But it's not plausible, IMHO, that anybody observing me is going to see my action (or inaction) here as anything other than a smooth continuation of how I do everything at the table. (Cardgrrl thinks that my entire demeanor at the table is annoying, so it's not surprising, I suppose, that the specific extension of it under discussion here also gets labeled as annoying.)

In the end, it seems that this disagreement comes down to a simple matter of different values and priorities--the sort of question on which it's not reasonably feasuble to assess one view as clearly right and one clearly wrong. I don't think that Cardgrrl, Carl, et al., are objectively wrong in their view; they simply prioritize things differently. (I trust that I was sufficiently clear about that in the main post.) I value efficiency and orderliness and adherence to rules and etiquette more than I value keeping a loose, light atmosphere to the game. Others reverse that valuation. I also believe, though I obviously cannot prove, that requiring people to abide by the rules is better for the long-term promotion of the game than laxity about rules is. In fact, I think that rules laxity is a slow poison to poker.

But I also don't think that the two things (playing by the rules and having fun) are in total tension. In fact, I think that adherence to rules and procedures and etiquette is a prerequisite to a game being fun and enjoyable. Violations of rules and etiquette often lead to disputes and ill feelings. If everybody simply comforms to rules and protocols, then such problems are avoided and all the fun in the world can ensue. Fun, though, is seriously endangered by breaches in game integrity, because somebody is nearly always hurt by such violations.

I have given the opposing views as fair and thorough a hearing and consideration as I know how to do, but in the end I stand by my action, and would do the same thing again.

Michael (@jinxclev) said...

Just some further thoughts. Rakewell, I don't think anything you are doing here is wrong. I think the point is perception and for those that approach things differently, which I'm guessing you would classify yourself under, it's very foreign to understand the masses in situations.

The masses in this situation are what Cardgrrl is referring to, the average player or the majority, who don't have the same understanding of things as you do and ultimately how it will affect their perception of you at a table.

Nothing wrong with having a higher degree of knowledge then others, and nothing wrong with holding people to the rules, but what I think the argument comes down to is tact, which anon pointed out as well.

It's a step out of your usual persona which is always difficult, and whether it's +EV for you or not is only something you would be able to determine, but it could be another tool in the arsenal.

Mean Joe 75 said...

You know i am a small stakes live player in CT... I know it might be different here in CT where there are only 2 card rooms but players break the rules and play with horrible etiquette all the time... I agree that you can't let the angle shooters get away with anything... It doesn't matter what it is... I was playing 4-8 limit hold'em and there was this guy at my table that would continue to show one card (like u were saying) but then after the other player showed their cards (which they thought would be a winner) he would then flip over the other card for a painful slow roll... After he did this a few times I said something about how poor his etiquette was and some of the other regs. at the table backed me up... After that he still tried to do it but it seemed that the table stopped letting him get away with it...
I agree there are rules for a reason and they should be followed...

Jordan said...

I wouldn't assume in this particular incident that this was a woman used to playing in home games. I'd assume the opposite. She was experienced in the game and was, in a way, angle shooting intentionally. She may have been trying to hide the weakness of her hand or was too embarrassed to show her weak play; hence, for an experienced player, not showing can be an underhanded way to avoid showing the kicker. In other words, I'd assume that she was acting very intentionally by not showing you the other card.

I also cannot stand when players don't show their cards when obligated to do so. Even with the nuts, I'm prone to just sit there and wait or remind them that they are obligated to show first. That's important info.

Another related point: in most homegames, people are not gathering information and often do not care about the integrity of the game. It's the difference between playing an intermural sport with refs and a pickup game. With an intermural sport (or casino poker) there are people whose job it is to set and enforce rules. In pickup games (or home games), its more about playing around and a lot more casual.

carl said...

> She has twice now explicitly
> labeled me as the bad guy in
> this situation, in addition to
> saying that my actions "make the
> atmosphere adversarial and
> hostile," which is pretty much
> the same thing, I suppose.

I don't agree that they're the same thing, which probably explains our different reads on things.

> Yet not one of them has
> acknowledge that the woman in
> this hand triggered annoyance,
> too--at least in me, and I think
> it's reasonable to assume in
> others.

I know I'd be annoyed with her, but I'd also keep it to myself. Maybe because I can better pull off the whole "I make plenty of money at my dayjob, and this is just for fun" persona. Which is true, but winning is certainly more fun. ;)

> my alleged infliction of
> irritation is condemned ...
> while hers is, apparently,
> completely forgiven,

Here's why I give her a pass. Every month, I play in a game with a bunch of friends. Some of them play like the woman you described, and, in fact, have some even worse habits. We've trained out the dealing mistakes, like flashing cards while dealing, but that's about it. I give them a pass on other mistakes every time. Not because they're friends, but because they never leave with more money than they started with. I'll do whatever I have to do to keep them coming back and donating.

If your actions as a winning player cause losing players to stop adding money to the game, you lose.

My view is probably colored by the fact that I rarely get to vegas. Dealers here run games at a pretty even level of mediocre. Few are great, but few are terrible. I might have a different view if I saw a few terrible dealers.

> I don't think any one such
> incident is going to "out" me as
> taking the game seriously.

That gives you a lot more leeway then, I suppose.

> In fact, I think that rules
> laxity is a slow poison to poker.

You may be correct, to a degree. But, at the same time, you need to be careful how rigidly you push rules enforcement on beginning and casual players. You need to keep them in the game. If I were going to pick a rules battle, this isn't one I'd pick.

> But I also don't think that the
> two things (playing by the rules
> and having fun) are in total tension.

They can be. I live in Boulder CO, where the city motto is "Whoa. Don't harsh my mellow, dude." They're in tension, believe me. ;)

I agree with your other points on having a common set of rules enabling more fun. Unfortunately, not everyone does.

My opinion is that you need to come down hard on angle shooters, and forgive casual violations that don't affect gameplay (I'd classify showing one in that category).

> I stand by my action, and would
> do the same thing again.

If, as you say, it's congruent with your other table actions and demeanor, then it would probably be more strange if you didn't.

Lucypher said...

In my homegame, you must show both cards - we try to mimic proper casino play as mush as possible. Regarding the showdown in the post, I agree with those that think it is best to simply table one's hand and minimize/eliminate the drama.

Im Just Saying said...

Wow, this discussion got lively in a hurry. First on home games: I love them because there are usually nothing but fish at the table. I hate them because the game is usually slow as people are talking instead of playing; people go all in because they want to knock their spouse or their buddy out and not because it's the most prudent decision; and there are usually smoke breaks every few orbits. Home games should be for fun. Throw in food and booze and it's a cheap night at the $50 or so buy in.

As for the "showing" issue. At a home game, just show. As I laid out, no one there is playing for real so who cares? But at the casino level, the level where you are earning your living as a professional player, enforce the rules 100%. What should you care if they don't like you? This is a business for you, you're engaging in a business transaction. Being liked shouldn't factor in to any of your decisions. Would you choose not to raise an unskilled player because you didn't want to be a meany and take advantage of them?

Your decision to enforce the rule, or any rule, is correct. Your business is not a public-service one - it's about extracting the maximum profit at the minimum cost and forgoing vital information so that people will like you is contrary to your goal.

That being said, there is nothing patently wrong with wanting people to like you and being willing to forgo a few dollars a hand or information of questionable value for that end.

Grange95 said...

First off, excellent discussion here! I'm generally in the pragmatic camp, as it fits my personality. If I know they have a weak King (per your example), pragmatically, I don't really care much what their weak kicker is, since the board usually narrows it down pretty well (people usually show KQ, KJ, and KT, so a no-show is usually K9 or below).

But, there are many cases where I want to see both cards. Say the board is Ten-high and drawy. They show just the Ten, and I have two pair. I want to know if they overplayed top pair, or if they had a combo draw. To me, this is much more valuable information than the specific weak King from the prior example.

I will say that on my current Vegas junket, I am observing this one-card only conduct at a near-endemic level. I can't think of any table where there wasn't at least one yahoo doing the one-card thing, and it does in fact slow the game down and annoy the heck out of me. Once the river is out and the betting is done, just show the cards already!! Although I may be a little more pragmatic about the situation than the Grump, I certainly understand his frustration.

Anonymous said...

I have a different theory about why people start to think showing one card would be acceptable.

Sometimes when everyone folds to a player, that player will show one card, either to establish an image (yes, I really did have the pair I was representing, good fold) or because they're an idiot (Negraneau likes to show one card on TV, I bet if I do it, I'll also be playing some funky mind game).

I think this then bleeds over into showdowns. If they think only one card is relevant to the hand, they just show that card and figure they've done their due diligence(this clown's been betting second pair, top kicker the whole way, but I slow played my top pair, now that he called I'll s how him my King).

I think this is one of the reasons showing only one card happens most often when there's four-to-a-flush on the board, or the showing player has only one pair. If they HAD hit two pair, it would have registered in their mind as relevant to the hand.

geezer said...

When in Rome.... Home games can decide whether it is convention or angle shooting and disinvite if that is the case..
a public cardroom it is up to the dealer to run a clean game that's why they get tokes..and the only reason

Barry said...

I think you have a valid rant, but once you two hit the comments like a bickering couple, I agree with everything Cardgrrl has said. You can't deny that you were holding up the game by the way you handled the situation. True, she is the one at fault, but you are purposefully holding up the action by making it a point to just stare at her and wait for her to act. Why not ask her to turn up the other card as soon as you could see that wasn't her plan? At that point, if she refused, it's back on her.

With your comments about having a right to the information in mind, I'm curious (without looking back at your catalog) whether you ask to see a caller's losing hand when you table a winner at showdown.

Anonymous said...

The problem with allowing this to happen is that it becomes acceptable and I see it more and more in casinos. I'm sure that most of the players who do this are well aware that they are in violation of the rules of poker and they should be called on this. Sloppy play in casino games has become more common and accepted. In what other casino game would this be allowed? Another practice that is usually shrugged off by dealers is the tendency to hold a stack of chips at all times, not announce the bet and drop chips from the stack to call or raise, bringing back the remainder of the stack when the bet is complete. The same stack is tapped in front of the players cards to indicate a check. Trying to eliminate such practices does not make one a nit