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Mucking Your Hand at Showdown - Good or Bad?

Mucking Your Hand at Showdown - Good or Bad? 0001

You battled your way through the flop, turn, and river. You made it to the showdown. Should you muck or show?

For most of us, this is one of the easiest decisions to make in poker. All relevant information is available. If you are first to act it is custom to show your hand. If your opponent shows his hand first you show when you have him beat and muck if not. But sometimes strange things happen. I will discuss some of these situations I encountered during my play.

When you are in a big pot at showdown you shouldn’t throw your hand away too quickly.

I came to this when I was playing a €1/2 NLH poker game in Holland Casino Rotterdam. An Inexperienced Guy (IG) had ace-king heads up and the flop was ace-jack-six with two hearts. His opponent (OP) bets the flop and IG calls. Turn is the {5-Spades}. OP bets, IG calls. River is the {9-Hearts}. Now opponent goes all in. Apparently IG thinks OP is bluffing because he calls the €200 bet. OP very calmly and looking very confidant turns over a red king-queen. IG looks at it in disgust and throws his hand away. The rest of the table looks in disbelief at IG who throws his hand away. You call €200 and can’t beat king high? Apparently OP had the {k-Hearts} and {q-Diamonds} and was bluffing after all. IG made a good call. But IG only saw the two red cards and his mind made it into a rivered flush, thinking they were both hearts.

What can we learn from this? Simple, if you call a big river bet you make damn sure you take a good look at your opponents hand twice before you decide you have lost and throw your hand away. And when you are still not sure if you have won or lost (because you are drunk, blind or stupid) don’t throw away your hand, show it and let the dealer sort it out.

Some people bluff on the river and throw away their hand when they get called. You should never do this!

Some aggressive players try to steal the pot on the river. They missed their draw or were bluffing every street. Anyway, they’ve got nothing to show for at the river. Hoping you have a weak hand also, they make a big bet in an attempt to steal the pot. If they get called they prefer not to show their hands and muck. Their opponent wins the pot without even having to show his or her hand either. There are a couple of reasons why you shouldn’t do this.

First of all, because this can easily be exploited by experienced players. When they notice you do this, they will call you down with any hand when they think you are bluffing just for the big change you will throw your hand away. That way they win even when they also have nothing.

Furthermore, sometimes people call you down with ace high if they think you are bluffing. You might think you are bluffing but still win the hand. For example, you have ace-two and the board is {2x3x4xJx9x} and your opponent calls you down with ace-king, thinking his hand is best.

In addition showing a bluff can be good for you if you have a tight image. If your opponents see that you are capable of bluffing they might call you down the next time you have the nuts.

Also, you miss out on some important information. You would like to know what kind of hand your opponent called you with. Did he have the nuts or just an average showdown hand? If he had the nuts, maybe you should bluff more against this player. If he had an average showdown hand you should bluff less against this player and bet for value more often when you have a big hand.

Lastly, it is kind of rude to not show your hand after you have been called. If your opponent has the guts to call you at showdown he deserves to see your hand. Don’t be a jerk and show some respect. After all, poker is a social game.

This article was written by one of our community members as part of the PN Blog. The thoughts, opinions, and strategy are those of the user only and do not necessarily reflect the positions of PokerNews. We appreciate your feedback, but ask that you be respectful of our PN Blog users who have generously donated their time. You can learn more about the PN Blog here.

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