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I was recently in a poker room where I saw some unexpected behavior from a dealer. I don't want to call the place out, but I do want to make it clear that it's not a small-time or shady operation; big-name national and international events are held there.

A NLHE hand was played to the river. By the time it reached the river, action was heads-up. After betting ended, one player announced "I've got the straight" and flipped over his cards to prove it. His opponent nodded and said "okay, you've got it," but instead of just mucking, he flipped over one of his cards to show that he had top pair. As the dealer was collecting the cards, she flipped the losing player's other card over so everyone could see it.

A few hands later, a similar situation occurred with the same dealer, except that the losing player folded to a turn bet instead of calling and losing on the river. Again, the loser showed just one card to prove that he wasn't totally bluffing. This time, he slid his cards towards the muck with the exposed card neatly on top of the other card. The dealer intentionally moved the top card out of the way to flip the bottom card over.

I had never been to that card room before, so I thought maybe it was a house rule that players couldn't choose to reveal exactly one of their cards. Later in the night, after a different dealer sat down, I asked about it, and everyone at the table — including the new dealer — agreed that the earlier dealer had been very wrong.

If I had been sure of the error back when the first dealer was still at the table, what would have been an appropriate way to point it out? Or, since nobody else at the table said anything (and there were definitely a few regs there) is the lesson that there's nothing you can do about a dealer who isn't following the rules?

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Your scenario sounds like a dealer that is either really new, not trained well or a blackjack/pai gow dealer switching over to poker. What surprises me is that the other players at the table where not immediately correcting the dealer while this was happening. Dealers make mistakes all the time. Stuff happens. Hands get mucked by accident, etc - I've seen some crazy things.

The rule is - the dealer NEVER unilaterally exposes cards that the player did not intend to be exposed.

That is information to be exposed at the players discretion and inappropriate disclosure of hole cards can affect the game. IME, there are two exceptions.

  • The first is the "show one show all" rule where if a player shows hole cards to another player at the table (unless it's a sweater or rail-bird sitting behind the player) - especially at the end of the hand - then the entire table is entitled to that information. This is a common rule.

  • The other is the "show one card show both cards" rule where if you flip one card up you need to show both cards. This rule is really rare. In fact, I've never seen that rule outside of private, friendly home games.

What usually happens is that you would point out to the dealer, in a quiet and respectful manner, that you are pretty sure the the dealer should not be turning over the cards. Usually, other players will chime in and agree with you and provide the basic instruction to the dealer. This handles about 90% of issues. If the dealer disagrees with you - or worse, the other players disagree with you - then you should ask a floorman. Just call a floorman over and ask the question. This happens all the time and is not considered rude.

If the dealer continues to disagree with you then the best way to handle this would be to quietly talk to a floorman on the side and explain the situation. A good floorman and/or pitboss would take care of it cleanly and professionally without embarrassing the dealer or interrupting the game. Just never get into an argument with the dealer - it almost never ends well for anyone.

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    For the OP, your best and likely most effective course of action is to take it to the shift manager away from the table and explain what happened just like you explained it to use. Floor people are not really suppose to discipline the dealer at the table. It is also not a game decision so it is something that should be taken up away from the table. Talking to the dealer away from the table will not likely get you far, it is not your job to train someone, and your just as likely to get resentment as get your point across. – Jon Jan 31 '15 at 1:15
  • As a funny side note, usually when I see a player turn over one card, it's another player that will pipe in with "show one show all", and then someone (or I) will immediately profess "No, it's show one player, show all players, not show one card show all cards." – TTT Dec 30 '16 at 17:18

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