Suppose the following sequence of events occurs on the river:

  1. Alice, acting first, checks.
  2. Bob bets
  3. Alice calls
  4. Alice shows her hand without waiting for Bob (who, as the last aggressor, should show his hand first, by rights)
  5. Bob folds

Alice complains that Bob was obliged to show his hand, since he bet on the river and was called. Is she right, or can he still fold?

  • Bob's play is not only acceptable, but is the standard practice in the majority of live casinos. See this answer to "How do you determine which player needs to show their cards first?" Jan 12, 2012 at 7:20
  • @Jeffrey Blake: I agree with that other answer of yours but not with your comment. In the other answer you're correctly saying that if Bob folds, he has to "hope that Alice will take the pot without further incident". You then go on to say that players (including the one not at showdown btw) can to see the hand of any player at showdown. However your comment here make if sound like Alice doesn't have the right Bob's card in Nick Johnson's example. I think Alice, even if it's bad etiquette, has every right to call floor if the dealer refuses to show Bob's hand upon Alice's request. Jan 12, 2012 at 11:37
  • I have never played in a casino that did allowed fishing cards out of the muck under any circumstances. Were this taken to the floor management, I strongly suspect other conclusions would be made. Yes, Alice is in her rights to call the floor, but that does not mean that Bob is outside his rights to fold, or that if the floor is called that the result will be exposing the cards from the muck. Jan 12, 2012 at 15:50
  • @Jeffrey Blake: "I have never player in a casino that did allowed fishing cards out of the much" [sic]. When someone folds and you ask to see his hand (either because you suspect cheating or because the player agrees to show his hand), the dealer should take the cards, touch the muck as to "burn" the cards and then show them. So that if the folding player has a better hand he doesn't end up winning a pot in which he folded. If the cards weren't burnt he can still claim pot. I even think that if only one card is burnt, the player can still claim the pot if his non-burt card makes a win. Jan 12, 2012 at 19:56
  • @JeffreyBlake: also note that I did never wrote that anyone would be going to fish for cards in the muck : ) But I'm pretty sure about the rule about killing cards by touching the muck and then turning them face up (and the dealer is supposed to kill both cards by making them both touch the muck)... There are definitely cases where you can see this (cards touching the muck and getting killed/burnt then getting turned face up for whatever reason). The rules may vary from one place to another, but I'm definitely not making things up here : ) Jan 12, 2012 at 20:02

4 Answers 4


None of the answers here get it quite right. Here's the complete scoop:

  1. Yes, Alice paid full price to see Bob's hand, and she's entitled to see it. The fact that she has shown her own hand is of no consequence; "order of show" rules only apply to situations where players are reluctant to show. Players are always encouraged to show their hands at showdown as quickly as possible.

  2. Bob is entitled to fold without showing, and the dealer should place Bob's hand in the muck if he releases it. Alice may (and probably should) then take the pot without further ado.

  3. If Alice requests that the dealer show Bob's hand before it hits the muck, the dealer should do so. Her right to see the hand overrides Bob's right to conceal it. The dealer will NOT kill the hand, and the hand is live, so Alice's request is at her own peril. (The hand WILL be killed if anyone other than Alice asks to see it).

  4. If Bob's cards are in the muck, but clearly identifiable, Alice may ask a floorman to retrieve them (the dealer should not do this on his own). The floorman may very well remove cards from the muck if he believes Bob acted specifically to deprive Alice of the right to see a hand she paid full price to see, but is not required to do so.


You can fold at any point in poker, that is legitimate play. Even if it was his turn to show first he could fold and sacrifice his chance of the pot (although it would be stupid to do so).

To fold at this point is in fact good play, if you know you can't win then you should give your opponents less information about how you bet.

  • 2
    Folding in this situation is a terrible play. The tiny amount of information you might give your opponent by showing a bluff that he thought you had anyway (as evidenced by his call) is minimal compared to giving your opponent the added opportunity to call-bluff. I have done this many times: when I know my opponent is one who will fold when his bluff is called, I often will call even with a hand worse than his, and let him fold without knowing he was probably bluffing with the best hand. Apr 14, 2016 at 20:01

Tom is right. And if Alice really wanted to see Bobs hand, she shouldn't have showed her hand first. Try to fish it out of him is best, and if this doesn't work, Alice won the pot and that is what poker is all about! winning pots! :)


Alice was within her rights to expect bob to reveal his hand before alice was obligated to reveal hers. She waived this right when she acted out of turn. when alice opened her hand out of turn, bob was within his rights to muck if he knows he has lost. Once his cards hit h the muck, alice has no recourse to see what bob had.

Some players ask the dealer to reveal bobs hand in this situation. Sometimes the dealer will oblige. This is not because alice has the right to gain information about how bob plays, but because of an old rule in poker designed to let players protect themselves from cheaters, especially two colluding players.this rule is known by many as the"IWTSTH" rule ("i want to see that hand").

  • See, this was my inclination too, but Alice (when this played out for me in real life) claimed she was entitled to see his hand even though she showed first. (I was neither Alice nor Bob in the scenario) Jan 12, 2012 at 23:04

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