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Cards Speak Poker Term

The Rule of Cards Speak

by Jesse Knight
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Cards Speak
Cards Speak - A rule which states that cards must be face up on the table in order to play. It implies that verbal declarations about the content of a hand are non-binding.


Some players will make wildly untrue statements about the content of their hand while the hand is in play. Some players consider this unsportsmanlike behavior, while others see nothing wrong with it. Card room management generally frowns upon this behavior, but stops short of strictly forbidding it.

Since verbal declarations about the content of a hand are often not binding, some players will push the limit on what is acceptable. For example, at the conclusion of the hand, just before they show down, they may intentionally miscall their hand as being stronger than it actually is, in an attempt to get their opponent to take their word for it and muck. This is definitely unsportsmanlike, and the offending player is shooting an angle. Some card rooms specifically forbid this move, and may award the pot to the other player when it occurs. However, hands will occasionally be miscalled by accident, and forbidding certain types of talking is a slippery slope for management, as enforcement is necessarily subjective.

Instead of forbidding table talk outright, most card rooms have developed several rules to protect players from angle shooters. One such rule is called “cards speak.” This rule states that the only way a hand can play is for it to be spread face up on the table at the conclusion of the hand. This rule is the industry standard, and all players know that they must show their hands in this manner in order to win the pot. They also know that other players must also show their hands in the same manner, and therefore will not release their hand until their opponents show.

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