This Is Why You Cannot Show Your Cards When You Fold

Folding occurs in poker when you put your hand in the middle of the table towards/in front of the dealer. By doing this, you forfeit your rights to the pot and can’t take part in any further action in the game. There’s been a lot of debate about whether players should show their cards when they fold.

The game of poker is all about information and by showing your cards, you are giving your opponents ideas about how you play. It’s advisable for you not to show your cards after folding if you don’t have to.

Apart from not wanting to give your opponents information about your playing strategy, folding rules and etiquette also dictate that you don’t show your cards to other players still involved in the hand. You can fold your cards at any point during the game when it is your turn to act.

There are times when you just want to toss your hand in right away after being dealt with less than stellar cards. It’s important you stay calm and be a good sport. Let the players ahead of you take actions – call, fold, or raise. Then when it’s your turn, take your action to fold.

Folding before your turn is frowned upon as you’ll be giving away information. Anybody yet to act already knows there’s one less person to call and will be making their decisions based on that.

poker player showing cards when folding
It is a bad idea to show your cards when you fold. You give opponents free insight into your playing strategy.

Can You Show Your Cards When You Fold?

By now, you should know that you are not meant to show your cards when you fold. You are supposed to place your card face down and then slide them politely to the dealer. The dealer will then add the cards into the muck pile.

It’s common to see people declaring their intention to fold by saying “fold” or “I fold”. You can’t change your mind after indicating you want to fold.

There are some instances in poker when you have to show your hand. And one of such situations is the showdown. Since the showdown signals the end of all betting rounds, all the players have to show their cards so a winner can be determined.

Another situation where you can show your cards is when no bet happens. However, the rules about this can vary and depends on when the last action happened. There are those who believe that this counts only after the river card.

Why Folding Should Be An Essential Part Of Your Strategy

Perhaps you’ve heard this old but popular saying in poker, ” You got to know when to hold’em and know when to fold’em.” This saying is very true. Poker is a game of choices and every decision you make will affect your bottom line. This will ultimately determine how much you’ll gain or lose. Decision making is one aspect of poker you must refine if you are to be great at the game.

There are players that favor the aggressive part of the game when coming up with a strategy. And it’s good. After all, the offense is the best defense, right? And what more, an aggressive strategy will boost your chances of winning and bring in more profit than a passive approach.

But there are times when you have to consider folding as it can turn out to be an unsung hero. Folding can be the difference between you making a losing call and reducing your losses.

We are going to help you master the art of folding. Knowing when to fold is an important skill all poker enthusiasts should master.

You might think that folding preflop is not that important as the pot is not that big yet. But in fact, preflop strategy is the most fundamental strategy you should master if you want to be a winner in poker. You definitely shouldn’t raise preflop all the time.

Learning the right time to raise preflop is actually pretty straightforward, and if you haven’t mastered it yet, then be sure to check my article on Best Times to Raise Before the Flop.


Mucking Vs Folding

Mucking may sound like a simple word but it is one often misunderstood in poker. It’s important for you to know the correct definition of the word as well as the right time to execute a muck.

The thing about the word muck is that it can function either as a noun or a verb. If it is used as a noun, then it refers to the pile of discarded cards lying somewhere on the table. Now as a verb, mucking simply refers to folding your hand.

In fact, your hand is not folded until your cards reach the muck. You may be allowed to take back your hand if the dealer hasn’t taken it yet. But still, be sure of your intention to fold before doing it.

Understanding the definitions and concept is one thing but what actually matters is knowing how to properly use that information.

The Artistry Of Mucking Your Cards

There are several ways by which poker players muck their cards during a hand. Chances are that you’ll develop your own unique style of mucking as you gain experience in the game. We’ll be taking a look at some common mucking actions below.

  1. The Push – It’s just like you shoving a plate of food you have no intention of eating away from you. In this case, it’s a couple of cards you have no intention of playing with. To execute this action, you just need to push the cards away from your fingertips or the heel of your hands. The cards are pushed towards the center in the direction of the dealer.

    The cards must be facing down throughout the mucking process and should never be airborne.
  2. The Slide – The name says it all. Here, you have to spread your cards (facing down) on the table. Then you place the index and middle finger of the same hand on the center of the backs of your cards and slowly slide them towards the middle of the table.
  3. The Toss –  You toss your cards towards the middle with the cards undergoing a bit of circular motion in the air. This action could prove to be a bit tricky and you must make sure not to expose the cards.
  4. The Flick – You first stack your hole cards upon one another. Then, you pick the cards up by their short ends. If you pick the cards up properly, their bulk will be directly under your palm. Using a combo of an inner/inverted twist of your wrist as well as using your thumb to perform a pushing forward motion, the cards are propelled forward, circling through the air until they land on the table.

    The flick may seem to be a bit overkill sometimes.
  5. The Helicopter – This is without doubt the most elaborate of all. It’s essentially an extreme version of the flick or the toss. The short version is that with the cards remaining parallel with the tabletop, they are spun horizontally going through the air before landing on the table. While this move may seem fanciful, you should be careful when executing you so you don’t launch the cards too much into the air and risk exposing them.

Good Poker Strategy: To Show or To Muck?

We’ve already talked about the reasons why you shouldn’t show your cards after folding. The truth is that you can decide to either muck your cards face down or expose them face up when folding. The choice is yours to make.

Most people decide to show the table their hands if they want their opponents to know how ‘big’ of a fold they are making.

During the showdown, you can also have the choice to muck or show your cards. And like we said before, you should always muck instead of showing. Unnecessarily showing your hands gives your opponents information about how you play. And that’s the last thing you want in poker because smart players will exploit you using this information.

If you play online poker regularly, then you’ll know that many poker rooms give players the ‘auto-muck’ option in the Settings. You can enable this option in certain situations online like when you have a losing hand during a showdown or when you intend to fold but are the last person to act in the betting round.

We’ll advise you to use this option and tick it on for two good reasons. The first is that it prevents giving away valuable information. Yes, we know we’ve been saying this a lot but the truth is that we can’t overemphasize it. The second reason is that it speeds up gameplay.