We’ve all done it. You just pulled off a huge bluff and got your opponent to fold the winning hand. But rather than throw your cards in to the muck you turn your hand over and show the table your moxie. You feel like the king of the world. But have you thought of how that one move has affected your table image and how other players will play against you? If not, its time you do.
Think of each hand of poker as a jigsaw puzzle. Each piece of information you have about the hand gets placed in the puzzle. The more information you have, the more pieces you can put in place and the better you are going to be able to play your hand. So at the end of a hand if 2 of your opponents each show their hands, this is valuable information that you can store up and use in future hands. Think about it, if you play the hand back in your head, you should be able to remember what position each player was playing from, who was betting, calling or raising, and you now have the benefit of knowing how strong each players hand was when they were doing it. Being able to recall that type of information is going to make it that much easier for you to play against these opponents in future hands.
Consider this scenario. You sit down at the poker table and quickly realize that most of the players are fairly passive. You take that that your cue to step up the aggression. You start raising every 2 or 3 hands and following up your pre-flop aggression with bets on the flop. After an hour of simply robbing the table blind, you haven’t had to show down any of the junk you have been stealing with. Everything is going your way. You are feeling invincible and you decide to show a big bluff. At that moment the tumblers all clicked in your opponents heads. You have just lost the element of mystery. You better be prepared to tighten up your game immediately or else you are going to find yourself getting called down by some mediocre hands. Of course this can work in your favor if you hit some decent hands immediately following. But you can expect to be called to the river the next few times you are in a pot.
Some people will tell you that its a bad idea to ever show your hands unless you absolutely have to, for example, at the showdown when you have to show your hand to win the pot. While you certainly dont want to make a habit of it, there are certainly times when its not a bad idea to do some advertising. If youve raised 2 or 3 pots in a row and then pick up a huge hand like A/A or K/K, Ill often show this hand before mucking to reinforce the idea that I’m only raising with the goods. It is typically a bad idea to ever show your bluffs. Very little positive effect can be gained by it. Sure, you get to bask in the moment as you are stacking up your stolen chips, but the likelihood that you are going to get away with another bluff in the near future his gone way down.
Use the power of information in your favor. Think twice before showing your hands when you don’t have to. If you do show hands, use it to reinforce the notion that you are always holding the winning hand. Unless you are ready to start gambling, don’t show your bluffs.