In poker, players potentially convey meaningful information with every action they perform. Often at the tables we are confronted with the hard task of telling truth from fiction in the information given off by our opponents.
Today I’d like to focus on one specific category of information that opponents give us — the voluntary show. I’m referring to situations where a player bets, others fold, and before being delivered the pot the player willingly shows his hand. Usually the winner in this spot just mucks the cards unseen, as there is no obligation to show. But once in a while the player will show one or both cards.
What should we make of this nugget of information?
As with most questions in poker, the best general answer is “It depends.” That’s not very helpful, though. Let’s see if we can pick out some of the factors that might be useful in decoding this data. To do that, I’m going to divide the voluntary show into four categories, each defined by the intentions of the player who without having to decides to show his cards.
- 1. The Voluntary Show as False Propaganda
- 2. The Voluntary Show as Truth in Advertising
- 3. The Voluntary Show Without Strategic Purpose
- 4. The Voluntary Show as a Targeted Message