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September 14, 2011

What is Rabbit Hunting in Texas Holdem Poker?

We’ve all seen it happen on televised cash games; a player makes a ridiculously huge bet, his opponent agonizes for a long chunk of time, then finally folds, and asks, “Can I rabbit hunt it?” The player obliges, and the dealer whips the next card off of the deck; which would’ve completed his nut flush draw! The opponent bursts into a string of expletives as the player smirks and rakes in the pot. This is the catch-22 about using a rabbit hunt; you find out if you made the correct decision in a hand or not, but sometimes, you really don’t want to know if you did!

The term “rabbit hunt” means to show the rest of the board to all players after the hand is over; this can mean the entire flop, turn, and river if the play ended preflop, or just the river. Some casinos and home games do not permit players to rabbit hunt, citing the slowdown of the game that it causes when players ask to rabbit hunt every hand, no matter the size of the pot; if you do elect to ever rabbit hunt in a hand, make sure you do it sparingly and when you do, ask to make sure it’s permitted at your place of play before you attempt to look!

When you do rabbit hunt, every player will get to see the remaining cards. Personally, I don’t condone rabbit hunting, for two main reasons. One, it alerts players as to the type of hand you may have been holding; if the flop is 459, two spades, and you bet/fold to a player who check raises you, then ask for a rabbit, if you react at all to a spade hitting the turn, you just gave your opponents a lot of valuable information; you bet draws, and will fold if pressure is applied to you after betting those draws, which can make it incredibly tricky for you to draw in future hands when you do flop draws. The second reason you shouldn’t rabbit hunt? It slows the game down, which can really mess up game flow and table dynamics. If you have a table that’s playing fast, seeing lots of flops, and generally blazing through money, adding rabbit hunts into every other hand slows the game down, deters gambling by allowing players that would normally pay to see draws the chance to see the draw for free, and is an overall bad move for an action game.

What can you do when other players choose to utilize the rabbit hunt? Simple; take the time to watch your opponent’s reactions to the extra cards being shown. Even the players that weren’t directly involved in the pot tend to take note of those extra cards, and you can gain some valuable extra information out of them when they exclaim, “Oh wow, if I had called that raise with my pair of nines preflop I would’ve flopped a set!” That tells you that, if this player folded those nines to just an open, he’s playing absurdly tight, and is probably also down on his luck here lately, making it easier to bluff him out of spots when he “doesn’t think he’s going to hit” like with his nines. Although rabbit hunting may not be a play you want to include in your arsenal, understanding how it works and being able to integrate it in your game when other players choose to use it is a smart way to take advantage of the free information your opponents give away every time they let those extra cards flop.

Article credit: Pete Carter