Ok, here's the scenario.
2 players play in a heads up poker game with family and friends for Player 1's birthday.

  • Flop has 4, A, Q.
  • Player 1 (P1) goes all in.
  • Player 2 (P2) takes a long time deciding to call.
    P2 flips over one of his cards and reveals an Ace.
    P2 says out loud, "If I didn't have a low card to accompany this Ace Id quickly call but I don't know...this is tough."
  • P1 doesn't say anything.
  • P2 then turns over second card, revealing his hand completely to be Ace, 2.
    P2 still has not said if he is going to call the All-in bet.
  • P1 then says his hand is dead.
    P1 thinks you can't reveal your cards before you decide to call or not.
  • P2 says that in tournament settings this is valid.
    And after seeing P1 argue, P2 calls the bet.

The turn and river are flipped, no straight for P1, and P2 wins the pot and eliminates P1.

No rules of the cash game at home were determined before starting. Nobody thought to really address it because its not a professional tournament.

Can you show your hand in a cash game heads up poker game before calling a bet?

  • Yes, it's illegal in tournaments in all situations. But this case--head up with the other player all-in--there's no possibility of collusion or influencing other's actions, so this would probably be tolerated in a live game by most casinos. Maybe get a warning at most, just to discourage the player from showing in other situations where it mattered more. Commented Jun 25, 2021 at 16:34
  • This also just happened to me last night. Board was JQxxJ, I bet and the guy turned over Q2, and thought for a bit and then said I call. I told him his card is dead, and he said it's not. We called the floor and the floor said yes he cannot turn over his cards, but if it's not completely pass the line it's considered alive. So meaning it doesn't matter if the hands are shown or not, what matters is if it passes the line or not? Also, if floor agrees the rule is player cannot make a move after turn over the card, then why nothing was done? How does this make any sense?
    – Odie
    Commented Nov 2, 2022 at 21:33

1 Answer 1


Tournaments have different standards, you can penalized and even disqualified for showing your hand even head up.

Casino Poker for cash it is frowned upon and usually there is rules against it. I dealt and played since 1985 until about a year ago, and seen plenty of people expose cards, floor people called and never has anything serious come of it. The only think I do in middle and low limit games when dealing is remind the player not to show there hand, if the opponent makes a big deal of another player showing a hand I will say let me call a floor. In high limit games I say nothing, they are on a planet poker of their own and have a lot of carte blanc with this.

At a home game, totally up to you guys. Many players feel the verbal stuff along with showing hands head up is fun and should be part of the game. Showing cards head up is not cheating its just angling to get a tell. Now some players do not like that, so what you do at your game really depends on how much like the "lawyer player" that argues everything or the other guy more.

I know we are talking about head up, however I would like to add that when cards are exposed by a player in a multiway pot, it is way out of line, and a scummy cheaters move that's going way beyond angling for tells. At best it is simply rude and effects the remaining play in bad ways. At worst someone is cheating to let the partner see things they just should not be sharing.

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