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You are the Tournament Director Series 4: Unintentionally Showing Cards

This one was emailed in by Ian Hilton:

Playing in a tournament, blinds were 200/400, 10 seater tables, player UTG called, next 4 players folded, the next player then announced raise to 1600, at the same time he lifted his cards up from the table unintentionally exposing them to the player on his right who then said he had seen the hand and so was folding. The player on the button asked for a ruling. Our TD could not find a sensible ruling in his rules so made the ruling that as he had exposed his hand to a player still in the game his hand was dead, the bet he made stays in the pot and the only bet made is the call of 400.

The ruling the club TD made was that his hand was seen and it altered the actions of the player seeing the cards, so putting other players still in the hand at a disadvantage, so his hand was then declared dead.

Could you ask your tournament Directors what they would have ruled?

Matt SavageMatt Savage:
I definitely would NOT have killed the hand but agree that him showing the cards could have definitely altered play and therefore I would have warned and even penalized the player after the hand if I felt that it was intentional or a repeated offence.

Thomas KremserThomas Kremser:
Cards of a player that accidentally shows his cards will not be declared dead and he will be able to continue to play his hand. The disadvantage is clearly on his side as the other player(s) have more information and can make their decision. Exposing cards definitely does change the action for this hand and for this reason the players should be penalized by sitting out for one round.

Jack EffelJack Effel:
This hand is live and should have not been ruled dead. WSOP rules state, “a player exposing his or her cards with action pending will incur a penalty, but will not have a dead hand.” I would rule the player’s hand live, and expose all cards face up on the table. The player will be forced to play the hand face up, but will be issued a minimum of a one round penalty at the completion of the hand.

Nicolas FraioliNicolas Fraioli:
Poker is a personal game. Nobody should be able to see any player’s hand. Sometimes kinds of players don’t know how to look a hand (beginners). Actually in that case I will give a warning to the 1600 raiser but the hand still live. And I would tell to the other player not to say anything until the end of that hand. Whatever happened now, at the end of the hand everybody will see his hand: (show one show all). That changes the action for one player who folded directly after seeing the hand. I would kill a hand if a player intentionally has showed his cards but he would only lose 400 and not 1600 because no one has called his 1600 bet. But if someone has called the 1600 then he would have lose it.

Dave SimpsonDave Simpson:
In this situation no player at the table is allowed the information of another player’s hole cards. If one player sees them all players must see them. Once it has been verified by the floor the cards are then turned over for all players to see. The bet of 1600 stands and action carries on as normal with the hole cards exposed. Player raising cards also receives a warning to take more care as a repeat would lead to a penalty.

Tab DuchateauTab Duchateau:
A player that exposes his hand does not have a dead hand, so that would not be an option in this case. Since the player exposed his own hand, and perhaps other players with a hand could have seen the cards, while some may have not, I would let the player play his hand…but I would force the player to expose the hand to the whole table.

The Mob Verdict

All our TDs agree that exposing cards during a hand is against the rules - no surprise there - but there are a variety of opinions on how to handle the offence.

Only Nicolas thinks the hand should be dead, although he does say that this should be the case where the exposure was deliberate, which doesn't seem to be the case here. He does give back the 1600 raise, which if you are killing the hand seems fair.

Jack Dave and Tab offer a fate arguably worse than death for the exposed hand: That it should be played face up. Thomas appears to imply the same when he says “The disadvantage is clearly on his side as the other player(s) have more information...”.

This strikes us as harsh under the circumstances. But it does beg the question that none of the TDs address: What if the player who had seen the exposed hand had wanted to continue in the pot? Surely then the other players would have been entitled to the same information he had.

But this was not the case here. What has happened is that a player who wishes to take no further part in the hand has let it be known that another player accidentally exposed his hand to him. If, and it's a big if, it is certain that none of the other players can have seen the hand, then we prefer the line taken by Matt that the hand should play out as normal and the 'offending' player should get a warning for a first offence. But the caveat must be that if any of the other players may have seen the hand it would have to be played face up.

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