When all the cards are out and betting is done, which player is required to show their cards first? Does it vary based on whether or not there was betting in the final round? Is there a standard accepted rule or is this one that varies from casino to casino?

2 Answers 2


This rule will vary from house to house. The two options are:

  1. The last player that made an aggressive action (bet or raise) must show first. If no aggressive action occurred on the final betting round, it would be the last aggressive action from the round of betting before that, and so on.
  2. If no aggressive action occurred on the final round of betting, the player to the left of the dealer/button must show first.

In any case, after the first person shows, the onus to show (or muck) proceeds clockwise around the table.

The most common rulebook used is Robert's Rules of Poker. Chapter 3, THE SHOWDOWN Section, rule 8 lists:

If everyone checks (or is all-in) on the final betting round, the player who acted first is the first to show the hand. If there is wagering on the final betting round, the last player to take aggressive action by a bet or raise is the first to show the hand. In order to speed up the game, a player holding a probable winner is encouraged to show the hand without delay. If there are one or more side pots ( because someone is all-in ), players are asked to aid in determining the pot winner by not showing their cards until a pot they are in is being settled.

Which is equivalent to option 2 above.

  • Don't forget the opening line in Robert's: If everyone checks (or is all-in) on the final betting round, the player who acted first is the first to show the hand.
    – AlG
    Jan 11, 2012 at 21:04
  • 1
    And by acted first, he means the first person to check, which means the first player to the dealers left. Jan 11, 2012 at 21:08
  • It is very unimportant to note, that this set of rules is fairly modern. There was a time when the rule was all players showed down at the end of the hand.
    – Jon
    Nov 7, 2014 at 2:46

In a number of casinos, I have seen the rule enforced that players only need to show their cards if they are seeking a claim on the pot. This practice is why many live players will verbally declare "you have me beat" without exposing their cards, in hopes that their opponent will show and take the pot without further incident. The player making that declaration may even go so far as to discard their hand into the muck.

The only time this practice creates a major problem is when someone at the table suspects cheating of some sort. This is where the live rule emerged that made it acceptable (if frowned upon, since you are essentially accusing the other players of cheating) to request to see the hole cards of all players who were in the hand at show down. That rule, in turn, is what led to the common practice of online poker sites showing all players hole cards in the text of their hand histories.

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