Something happened in a tournament that made me think I can improve my game psychologically, so I'm looking for input.

Setup: The hero in a live MTT, and had about 3x the initial stack size at a few hours in. The hero was not the chip leader and was behind one or two others at the table, including the villain (but not by much).

The hero was on the button, while the villain was in middle position. Pre-flop action included a 3bb raise by the villain and a call by the hero. After the flop the villain bet a modest amount (less than 1/2 the pot). the hero raised 3x, and when folding the villain complained "nice positional bet", implying the hero didn't have the cards to make the bet but not wanting to pay to find out.

In this particular case, I (as the hero) exclaimed that I had made top pair (I paired a jack, and I held a suited king). The villain gave a flippant "show 'em", sounding like he didn't believe me (which was surprising because at that point in the game I had maintained a very tight image). I flipped my cards as I pulled in the pot.

My question here is -- what should I have done differently, either immediately or over the long term, in order to capitolize on the villain's contempt for my play?

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    Was this a live game or an online one ? Mar 26, 2014 at 13:22
  • This was a live game; I'll add that to the question.
    – mah
    Mar 26, 2014 at 13:34
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    To be honest, I dont think you should have shown him your cards! You have given him more information then you needed too. You should have just pulled in the chips and told him next time to pay you if he wanted to see!
    – Gaz Winter
    Mar 26, 2014 at 13:54
  • @GazWinter that's definitely a fair statement. I think the reason I showed them is I was getting ready to loosen up my game and I wanted to take advantage of that last boost to my cultivated tight image, but I'm not sure it was necessary nor the best move. I rarely show my cards but I never show a bluff. (Maybe that's a weakness in my game and I should simply never show my cards when I don't have to.)
    – mah
    Mar 26, 2014 at 14:01

1 Answer 1


In this case I would say "Thank you" and muck my cards.

Is my personal decision to never show my holecards unless I have to.
Poker is an information game so the less information your opponent have the best for you. Your opponent obviously was not happy to be kicked out of the pot, let him keep guessing. Next rounds you could make him pay your good hands because he thought you bluffed him.

I don't see any benefit from showing your cards on a full table, there are some very specific spots that you could do it on a short-handed table or heads up, but you give much more than you gain, in my opinion.

You don't have to be a nice person at the table (You don't have to be an ass too), just play the game.

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