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Let's say someone bluffs on the flop, turn, and river with "nothing", (maybe he has AK), and is called all three times, by someone who probably has a small pair.

In theory, he is supposed to show his hand to the caller. But can he just muck his hand and concede the pot ?

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2 Answers 2

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Although customary, you can muck before showing your hand. I've seen this happen on WSoP (two players in the hand, winner mucked his low pair, figuring he was beat, the winner showed high card and took the hand). The rules can and will vary with the Casino you are at or the people you are playing with. Always best to ask.

According to Robert's Rules for Showdowns:

  1. To win any part of a pot, a player must show all of his cards faceup on the table, whether they were used in the final hand played or not.

Note that it doesn't say you can't fold, only that to win you must show. Also in #8 is an interesting sub-section:

8... A player may opt to throw his hand away after all the betting for the deal is over, rather than compete to win the pot. However, the other players do not lose the right to request the hand be shown if he does so.

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At showdown, the player in the earliest position must show his hand. After that, it will go clock-wise (just like on a flop, turn or river) and all the other players have the option to show or muck. If they muck, they can't win the pot.

So, to answer your question: if the guy with AK has the earlier position, he can't just muck and forfeit the pot. He MUST show his hand.

PS: I rarely show my hand if I see that I'm beaten. The only situation I can think of when unvoluntarily showing your hand can be a good idea is if your opponent(s) is/are on tilt. If you have the chip-lead, it's a good idea to win a pot and show that you weren't bluffing. They'll be 100000 % sure that you're bluffing a big percentage of your hands, but those legit hands that you've shown will be so well locked in their head, that it will be very hard for them to play their small stack against you. The blinds will kill them eventually and you'll go up the payladder :) .

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Point taken. But does "earliest position" mean with reference to say, "under the gun," or with reference to the original bettor (meaning the bettor himself). –  Tom Au Jul 12 '12 at 14:54
    
I mean the classic version: Start from the button and go to his left and keep going till you find a player with cards. This guy is the one in earliest position. –  Radu Murzea Jul 12 '12 at 15:02
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