Showing a Winning Hand
One of the auto-options available to us at 32Red Poker tables is the facility to Muck Winning Hands and, nearly all of the time, this is the correct thing to do because we don’t want to be giving our opponents undoubtedly useful information for free if it can be avoided. Indeed, with this in mind, if we were to decide never to show a winning hand we could simply get on with the game, not having the ‘inconvenience’ and potential confusion – or, worse, the serious implications – caused by voluntarily making a poor decision. It sounds sensible to sacrifice possible gains in order to rule out the very real risk of losses and the additional advertising afforded the opposition.
However, there will be instances, albeit rather rare, that justify a strategic reveal, and we wouldn’t be doing our overall game justice if we arbitrarily dismissed the existence of such potentially profitable and advantageous opportunities. Even if we don’t yet feel sufficiently confident to start giving away our secrets (less experienced players should consider the theory but avoid putting it into practice until they’ve become more acquainted with the game), it’s useful – as with so many aspects of poker – to think about why we might occasionally uncheck the ‘Muck Winning Hand’ box and lay our cards face up on the virtual table for all to see.
A fundamental factor here is the kind of winning hands we’re dealing with. We could have the strongest hand, bet and subsequently take down a pot. Alternatively, a bluff might have induced the desired fold(s) to win us the booty. These situations are quite different, in turn producing different psychological results when the cards are shown.
For example, given the fact that we’re endeavouring to unsettle players as well as provide them with ultimately misleading information, we are not going to knock them off balance by, for instance, letting them know they’ve just made a good fold. Nevertheless, that isn’t to say we should always avoid showing in this specific scenario, particularly if the play we just made is not at all typical of how we usually operate, and we intend not to repeat it during the rest of the game. Getting information might be key in poker, but giving out false information that can in the future form the foundation of a well-timed play is like gold dust. There’s also a justification in showing a winning hand when we know the opposition to be of the (over-)cautious type – we’re helping them confirm their accurate, sober folds so that they will be even more inclined to do so other times, when we’re bluffing.
Showing a bluff, on the other hand, is designed to elicit a level of emotional response that will lead to tilt, or at least sow the seeds of doubt by making players dwell on their ‘mistake’ when subsequently facing similar decisions. This is also a decent tactic against those players who tend to call more liberally than they should, setting them up for when we have a genuine winner.
One final tip, which is important enough to be a golden rule of sorts: never show without a valid, hand/situation-related reason!
Good luck at the tables!
Angus Dunnington (AngusD at the tables)
32Red Poker Ambassador