Players Must Now Show Cards in All-in and Call Situations on PokerStars

PokerStars has released an update to its poker client software and with it announced a minor change to its cash games: when two or more players move all-in, their hole cards will now automatically be revealed to everyone at the table.

For those reading this who do not play at PokerStars, the implication that the change makes sounds absurd. Why on Earth would hole cards not be turned face up when there is an all-in and a call? It makes perfect sense that this would be the case, right? I agree that it makes sense to flip over the cards, but cash game rules dictate that players do not actually have to reveal their cards in an all-in situation. Of course, if a player wants to claim the pot (or part of it, as the case may be), he is going to have to show his cards to prove he has the best hand, but until he gets to that point, he can just leave them face down.

For example, if Player A shoves with A-K and Player B calls with A-Q, they can just leave their cards as they are while the dealer puts out the community cards. If the board ends up A-T-3-6-9, odds are both will want to show their cards, as both hit top pair. But if Player A shows first, Player could opt to just muck, as he knows he lost.

If in the above example, Player B flipped his over first, thinking he may have won with top pair, Player A COULD technically never show his cards, but that would be stupid, as he has the winning hand.

Someone obviously has to show their cards, as nobody would win the pot otherwise. Well, actually, that is not exactly true. If Player A instead had 2-7 offsuit, it would not be out of the question for him to just muck right away, assuming his bluff failed, leaving Player B as the only one remaining in the hand. In that case, Player B would win the pot by default. Some casinos or card rooms may have a rule that Player B still has to show his cards, but generally, if one all-in player mucks, leaving just one player with cards, the one with cards wins.

Bottom line: in cash games, nobody is required to show their cards unless they want to claim the pot.

In tournaments, of course, it is a different story. When there is an all-in and a call in a tourney, both (or all, depending on the number of players who decide shove) hands are turned face-up on the table for all to see.

On PokerStars, even though players were not required to show their cards when all-in in cash games, the hole cards could still be seen by everyone at the table if they opened up the hand history. Many casual players didn’t necessarily know about this, though, so there was always a slight advantage for more experienced players who knew about this option.

Plus, being able to get your sweat on is fun, isn’t it?

PokerStars’ complete explanation of the procedural change, as posted on the site’s blog, is as follows:

The latest version of the PokerStars software for desktop and mobile devices across all jurisdictions has removed a small feature: when two or more players are all-in, their hole cards are now always visible to other players at the table.

Revealing hole cards when all-in has been the long-standing practice at poker tournaments, online and live, for many years. However, this has not always been the practice at cash games – for several years, players have had the option of displaying or hiding their cards when all-in at PokerStars. While it has been the default to have cards visible when all-in in cash games, until now, players could turn this off at PokerStars. When one player turned this feature off, no one at the table was able to see the hole cards visually when all-in, but they were always visible in the hand history file.

We are making this very small change because we believe that this will lead to a slightly more fun, and slightly fairer playing experience. Players can now sweat the flop, turn and river knowing what they need to hit (or what they need to avoid). Hole cards from all-in confrontations had always been displayed in the hand history anyway, so advanced players who were familiar with the software were able to retrospectively find out what opponents had in all-in situations. Going forward, all players will be able to view these hole cards in real time, taking away this advantage, and adding to the excitement of the hand.

This is certainly only a very small change – indeed, most players won’t even notice that there has been a change at all. However, we think that making small changes like this is part of our mission to make poker fun and fair for all adults, especially people who are unfamiliar with our software.


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