Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Follow Up To The Exposed Hand Story

Last week, I published a post about an incident at the Venetian where a player intentionally exposed his hand after going all-in even though there four people left with live hands.  You can—no, you should—read that post if you have somehow failed to commit it to memory. You can find it here and while you’re enjoying it all over again, as if it was the first time you read it, please note the comments from the esteemed Tony Bigcharles and an anonymous lurker right below claiming to be an ex-dealer.  

They felt that the dealer should have told the player whose action it was on what the exposed cards were when asked.  Now, he wasn’t specifically asking the dealer, he was asking everyone at the table, or should I say anyone at the table to tell him.  Everyone kept quiet; a few said that it would be wrong to tell him. In my post, I expressed surprise that in fact no one did tell him, which I maintained was the right thing to do.

At the time, and even as I was writing the post weeks later, it never occurred to me that a case could be made for making the player show his cards a second time.

But I thought about what Tony and the ex-dealer said, and figured I would do a little research. 

You know, they don’t call me “Robvegaspoker” for nothing, and as Tony himself has stated, I have more juice than anyone in the Vegas poker community.  So I contacted a bunch of folks who work in poker rooms in Vegas for their insight.  This included dealers, floor people, tournament directors, and poker room managers. 

Most responded, for which I am very grateful.  There was some disagreement. A few agreed with Tony, most did not.  Basically, the higher up on the poker food chain the person was, the more likely they were to say the hand should not be re-exposed.

I didn’t ask any of the people I contacted if I could quote them, so I will not attribute any of the quotes to the person who said it.  You’ll just have to take my word for it that these are quotes from people who know their stuff.  I’ll start with the two who thought the hand should have been re-exposed (or the dealer should have told the player what cards were flashed).

A dealer/floor person said this:  “You had the information available to you to make a decision, the other players in the hand should have had that info available.

“I would have had him turn it up. I may have called the floor. I would call the floor if there was any sort of protest or resistance, if the player was drunk, or if the player was a problem in any way. If it was just an oops sort of thing, I wouldn't call the floor. Just because someone doesn't see someone accidentally flash their cards doesn't mean they aren't paying attention. What if it's the player in the 1 seat and the player in the 10 seat doesn't have a view of them?

“Sometimes players will hold their cards in a way that their neighbor can see. Does that mean that the player next to them is privy to the info because they are sitting close enough to pay attention? This is why there aren't always 100% black and white rules in poker. Sometimes you have to take other things into consideration.”

Another person who has dealt, floored, occasionally filled in for shift managers said this: “It's a tough decision because if a player exposes his hand with action pending and if you are certain a player that has action pending has seen the hand, then you pretty much have to turn the hand face up for all to see. Especially if it’s more than one player left to act. It's almost like if a card gets exposed on the deal but maybe only one player sees it. If there is any doubt then you turn the card face up and expose it to all the players.

“Of course the player (who didn’t see the hand) has a responsibility too but I can't completely punish the player. If I'm in seat 1 and I’m thinking about what to do and he's in seat 10 and exposes it and seats 7,8.9 all see it and they all have hands as well, I'm not going to punish seat 1 for information that was freely given.

“I also could be confusing it with a decision where a player shows another player their cards to someone that has a hand themselves when there are more people involved in the hand. In that situation, you would expose the player’s hand that had shown their cards to another player.”

Everyone else took the other side, my position. 

From a current room manager: “I don't make the dealer expose the cards. Everybody had an equal chance to see them when they were exposed, for those that didn't see them, tough luck, pay attention. I don't let the dealer say what he thinks they were because he could be wrong and we know that doesn't end well.  Like you I am amazed nobody spoke up during the hand. If they had I'd have given them the most minor of warnings.”

From a long-time, former room manager: “Yeah. Everyone should follow the action. It's your responsibility as a poker player. The guy handed out a gift and if someone didn't see his hand it's their own fault. I'm surprised nobody asked for the floor. You might get a show one show all ruling because there were multiple players left in the hand but I don't agree with it. Then you affect the outcome of you winning the hand. Floor’s job is to not affect the outcome of the hand with their ruling.”

From a former room manager, current floor person: “The dealer is not part of the game and should absolutely not state what the cards are. Further, when I’ve dealt and had a player accidentally flip his hand over, I've covered it and then not let the player touch it until all the action is done. I keep my hand on it the entire time. The last part of this is, had the player stayed in the game, he should be told the next instance of this in a non-heads up situation would result in a dead hand. You are not allowed to expose your hand in a multi-way pot.”

A poker buddy of mine who briefly dealt himself contacted one of his pals who has managed rooms all oover the country.  That person came back with this: “He said he's made this decision several times in his career. He would not make the player turn over KK because even though it was turned over, it’s now protected with action pending, so he can't make a player turn over a protected hand until the action completes.”

Now the last person I consulted with I can’t quote.  He is a poker room manager and when I emailed him, he actually took the time from his busy day and called me to go over it, feeling that it would be easier to talk through than write down.  So I have to go from memory.

He immediately mentioned the “show one, show all” rule—but said it would only be relevant after the hand was over.  In other words, had the player who exposed his hand won the pot without being called, he would have insisted that everyone saw his cards at that point, when the hand was over.

But he was adamant that the dealer do nothing to influence the action at all.  In fact, he said the dealer should do nothing, period.  The dealer is not part of the game, the dealer only controls the game.  He said what many of the others said, if that one player missed the opportunity to see the hand, that’s on him for not paying attention.

He also made a point of not punishing the player who exposed his hand any more than necessary.  Suppose the player who didn’t see the hand was the last player to act?  Or, suppose neither one of us had seen the cards?  In that case, making him expose his hand is basically taking his money and giving it to one of us (if one of us could see that we beat his hand).  That certainly isn’t fair. 

He went on to say that the ruling would be the same for tournaments or cash games (I only asked because he has a lot of experience running tournaments).  He said that had it happened in a tournament, and the player still had chips after the hand, the player who flashed his cards would have been penalized by having to sit out a orbit (unless that would have blinded him out of the tournament, than an exception would be made).  In a cash game, if he had stuck around, he just would have received a warning.

Well that’s basically it.  I’ll try to summarize. I think to some degree, the way I told the story influenced the thinking of those who felt the cards should be exposed.  They were looking at it as if it was accidently exposed card during the deal, or when a player folds and his hand is accidentally exposed.  But those are dead cards, not cards from a live hand.  Big difference.

As noted, the player who exposed his cards should not be automatically punished with the loss of his stack unnecessarily. That player on my right would have still been asking what the hand was even he was the last player to act.  Think of it that way.  In that case, you don’t have to worry about another player (me) having the advantage of seeing his cards, it’s just a case of that one player left—if he missed seeing the cards, why give him that information that he would otherwise not be entitled to.  Those thinking it should be exposed again are considering that another player, again, me, had information he didn’t have.  But at the time the action was on the other guy, no one knew that.  The dealer didn’t know that I saw the hand. 

Suppose neither one of us saw the hand.  And then suppose the dealer did reveal the hand again to us. Now further suppose that the player in front of me would then fold because he could not beat the hand.  And I didn’t see it originallyeither, but after the dealer told me what I had, I now knew that I could beat the hand.  So if the hand wasn’t exposed a second time, we both would have folded and no harm to the player who had a brain fart.

The player has to do everything in his power to protect his hand, right?  That includes paying attention, sorry the guy didn’t see it, but that’s life.  He wasn’t supposed to see it anyway.  I wasn’t either, but I did, and I got a gift.  I’m not returning it. 

Once or twice playing poker in the past, when I still had live cards, I’ve accidently exposed my hand.  I immediately covered the cards with my hands and turned them back over.  Did anyone see them?  Did everyone see them?  In those cases it was clearly an accident and no one said anything about my hand being exposed.  But it is possible somebody with cards saw them and another person with cards did not.  Should I have been ordered to expose my hand again?  I surely was not told to do so.

Slightly different in this case only in that the player, in a moment of incredible brain-deadedness, flipped them over on purpose, and it was obvious that many players saw the cards.  But the principal is the same.

Anyway, thanks to all my friends and associates who responded to my request for the review.  I really appreciate it!


  1. is it possible to have the pic at the top of the blog?? B+++

    1. Yes....stand on your head while reading it.

  2. Ruling prob should be based on intent, if it's obvious to dealer/players at the table?
    Appears that Britney also appreciates the responses.
    Good work, sir.

    Big L

    1. Thanks Big L. The intents was, "I'm crazy at this moment."

  3. Anony dealer here, thanks for the follow up post!
    Obviously like most people I'm going to be biased towards what I thought would be the correct decision! I agree with pretty much everything said in the first bit.
    The main reply that surprised me was 'everybody had an equal chance to see the cards'. Obviously this might not be true. If seat1 showed his cards while in a pot with seats2,3,4 and 10, seat 10 is at a huge disadvantage with this ruling.
    The other thing I would say is in response to your 'what if nobody had seen the cards?' issue. I would agree, if poker players were always going to tell the truth when asked if they saw his cards. And speaking from experience, they don't. There's money on the line, and you'd be surprised how far some people go when that happens. Turning the cards over as default just stops this angle even being a possibility.

    Again thanks for the followup, was interesting to hear different peoples views.

    1. Thanks again, Anony.....Yes, it might be unfair if one seat was at a disadvantage of seeing the cards. FWIW, in this case that's not the case, the player who didn't see actually had a slightly better view of the seat that exposed the cards than I did...and I have bad eyesight. Had he been paying attention, he would have seen them a bit easier than I did. The cards was not hidden by a dealer (or another player).

      Also, it wasn't a matter of players having to be honest, the point is no one was asked (or should have been asked) if they saw the cards. It wasn't like the dealer said to me, before the other player acted, "Did you see the cards?" The default has to be is that everyone had the same information, otherwise the dealer/house is affecting the action.

      The case where it might be ruled differently is in that case where a player intentionally shows his cards to his neighbor only, incorrectly thinking that his neighbor didn't have cards and in fact still had a live hand. I've seen that a few times. In that case, yes, you'd probably have to make the player show his cards to everyone. But that case is usually where the guy is waiting to fold, and the hand is about to be dead anyway.

    2. I'd be interested in what happens if someone said 'he had Kings'. Floor can't make someone unsay that! And they arent actually breaking any rule... But yeah, simple thing is dont show your cards, problem never comes up!

    3. Actually they would be breaking a rule: "Don't talk about the hand." One of the poker managers answered your question above, I'll repeat it here: "Like you I am amazed nobody spoke up during the hand. If they had I'd have given them the most minor of warnings.”

      Thanks for the comment, appreciate it.

  4. I have been in a situation where player is second to act after the river has been exposed. He turns over his cards without giving the third party a chance to act. Of course this does not stop the third party from betting if he has this hand beat. Sometimes this can be construed as angle shooting. If he keeps doing this to prevent further betting.

    1. Thanks, Ed...yes, the way you describe it, it does sound like angle shooting. But not quite what happened here.