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If you frequent online poker forums, chances are you’ve come across one or more posts related to revealing your hole cards to opponents when not required to.

The overwhelming consensus on the topic is that a poker player should never give away information when it is not mandatory. However, the viewpoint is somewhat subjective, and many poker players do in fact show their hole cards at certain times.

In this article, we take a look at five reasons why a poker player may reveal his or her hole cards.

Putting Opponents on Tilt

This is one of the best (and most common) arguments that poker players make when defending their decision to occasionally reveal a hand. Especially in cases where a bluff is successfully pulled off, showing it to the rest of the table (and most importantly, an inferior player that you bluffed) could serve to both incite action and cause the target opponent to get involved in more pots against you.

This is routinely implemented in juicy live cash games when a “fish” with a lot of chips behind is identified. If you’re interested in perhaps playing more pots against this player, the showing your hole cards from time to time when raking in a pot could be just the method for making that happen.

This can have a similar effect during online play if an opponent is very weak or has been seated long enough to build a large stack. However, in the online realm, it is much easier for the target player or players to simply sit out or exit the poker site client than it is during live poker play.

Granting Validation To Opponents

The long-term profitability of showing a strong pocket holding when a preflop raise gets through or when a post-flop bet doesn’t receive any action is highly debatable.

Yet many poker players do this, especially in Multi Table Tournament (MTT) situations because they believe it may help them get away with future bluffs. You can witness players revealing their hole cards in this scenario from time to time when deep in tournaments, but there is no data on whether this actually works.

Poker tournaments typically have a lot of players at a table unless there are only a handful of players remaining. On top of that, increasing blinds often require opponents to be more liberal with their stacks regardless of whether you woke up with a hand a few plays back or not.

Personal Validation & Getting Attention

While there is no profit implications to be gained for revealing your hole cards for these reasons, flipping over a significant bluff is great for validating your own needs and getting the attention of opponents or railbirds.

It is probably also the most common reason why poker players show their hole cards when not required to .It can be exciting to put a lot of chips at risk and take a big pot down by bullying an opponent — and this action generally plays very well to a crowd.

“If I Fold Will You Show?”

This happens a lot during live play, and most (but not all) poker players feel obliged to honor unwritten agreements among themselves.

An opponent may request that you “show if I fold” before laying down a hand. Keep in mind that there is absolutely no rule in poker that says you must show a winning hand when it is the only one remaining to take down a pot. Still, some players may consider it bad etiquette to not do so, but it is still up to you.

You’re The Poker Player “On Tilt”

Although very few (if any) poker players will admit to this, there are times when hole cards are revealed out of frustration.

This may happen in situations where you are cold-decked for a long period of time, finally wake up with a hand, and then receive little to no action up against your monster. This is one reason why players attempt to stay relatively active over the course of a tournament or cash game session regardless of hole cards… because if you’re only playing premium hands then it is less likely you’ll get paid off for it.

Are there other any reasons that were left out or that you can think of for why a poker player would show a hand? Let us know and best of luck at the tables!

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David Huber

David Huber has been involved in the poker industry for more than a decade: initially as a professional online poker player and later as an editor, consultant, writer, and forum manager. Known as "dhubermex" online, David's poker-related work has been heavily published across numerous websites since 2004.

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