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To Show or Not to Show

Will you show?
By Loki Luchs of

To show your cards, or not to show your cards, that is their question; I hear it at least once almost every time that I play: A player doesn't want to make an expensive call, but they don't want to stay up all night wondering if they made a good lay down or not. Their curiosity is a weakness and this is an easy way to exploit it.

While in a game the other day, I had an opponent who was using this as a tactic. She was a generally talkative person to begin with, which isn't always bad, but she gave away a lot of information about herself that was clearly true. For instance, she said that she never bluffed because she hated losing showdowns. Her play, as I watched her, indicated this. Whenever she was at a difficult calling point, usually on the turn or river, she would ask her opponents if they would fold. They usually said yes. When they showed her the better hand, she smiled and nodded and gave herself a verbal pat-on-the-back. She knew that they hadn't bluffed her, that her instincts were correct, and each of those hands wouldn't bother her later on. An interesting note to this is that there was a point where she asked, and a man who had previously shown his cards said no. She immediately called and won the pot.

Eventually, she got into a hand with me and asked me if I would show her. I told her that I didn't ever show my cards. She kept deliberating until she called with the worse hand. Her curiousity forced her to call me. I played her heads up several more times while I hit a rush of cards and she seemed to accept that I usually had a strong hand. She then showed me respect and avoided me unless she had a strong hand, which I in-turn also avoided. Her chips started to dwindle and she made the classic mistake of becoming even tighter than usual.

I began to play into her. The first few hands she obediantly folded to my raises. With every fold she would ask the standard "Will you show?" Naturally, I answered "No." every single time. As this continued, she folded with a frown, as though she was wondering if it was a mistake to not gamble with me a little.

Finally, she was in a hand that I could tell she was on the fence about. The flop comes Ac 6h 9s. I shoot a continuation bet of about 20% of her meager chip stack. If she calls, she's pot-committed for the rest of the hand. "Will you show?" she asked.

I pause for a moment and then tell her "Okay. This one time I'll show." She mucks her cards, showing A/9 suited. I flip the 4d/5s up and rake in the pot. "

Visibly angry, she growls at me. "Why did you show me that?"

I could have told her that I was afraid she would call if I didn't. I could have said that it was hoping she would tilt into me on the next hand I played. I thought that this was more appropriate though: "Because you asked me to."


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