Don’t worry; you haven’t accidentally clicked on Elmer Fudd’s personal blog - rabbit hunting is actually a poker term! We’re used to poker slang referencing various aspects of marine life to talk about the players, such as fish, whales, and sharks, but rabbit hunting refers to the cards.
If you’re interested in learning more about rabbit hunting, why players do it, and how you can use it strategically, then you’re in the right place!
Rabbit hunting is when players request to see how the board will run out after the hand is over. It can be done preflop, on the flop, or on the turn, although the most common situation where you’d see a rabbit hunt is on the flop or turn. For example, if a player has a strong flush draw but is facing a huge bet, they may decide the best action is to fold, but they want to rabbit hunt to see if they would have made their flush if they had called.
It’s important to note that the runout of the hand is irrelevant to how you should have played the hand. In the above example, if the player would have made their flush, it doesn’t mean they should have called if they weren’t getting the right price. It’s just a way of satisfying curiosity.
Most live poker rooms don’t allow for rabbit hunting, as it slows down the pace of the game. While some places will allow it to happen, the whole table must agree for the hunt to occur. If one player objects, the rabbit hunt won’t happen, and the next hand is dealt.
Rabbit hunters have the choice to show what the cards would have been by clicking on them.
The main reason players rabbit hunt is to satisfy their curiosity. We’ve all been in a situation where we have a really nice-looking hand but can’t continue against a big bet. We know that the correct play is to fold, so we do, but we remain curious as to what would have happened if we did make the call.
You’ll find that recreational players are prone to rabbit hunting more than experienced players, as experienced players know that the outcome of the hand doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is how well you played the hand up until that point, not whether you would have won it.
Not all online poker sites offer rabbit hunting as a feature, but it’s something that more and more sites are introducing. The great thing about rabbit hunting in an online game is that it can be done instantly without slowing the game down, and you can limit the players who see the outcome. Therefore if one player wants to rabbit hunt, but another doesn’t, these sites can show the outcome to the players who want to know.
One major difference between rabbit hunting online and rabbit hunting in live poker is that online poker sites will often only let you see the next street, not the whole run out. For example, if the hand ends preflop and you’d like to rabbit hunt, you can only see what the flop would be and not what the whole board will be.
This image shows the rabbit hunt for only the flop, not the turn and the river.
If you are out to hunt rabbits and you're looking for a home to do so, you can try any of the following poker rooms:
PartyPoker has a diamond system whereby you can earn diamonds as you play. These can be traded in if you want to rabbit hunt. In general, you can rabbit hunt on most iPoker Network poker rooms, and the feature can be switched off should you wish.
While it may not seem like it, you can use rabbit hunting strategically in live poker. As we mentioned, many recreational players like to rabbit hunt to see if they would have won the hand, so by asking for or allowing a rabbit hunt, you can get an insight into what their hand likely was.
When the rabbit hunt takes place, watch the player who requested it carefully to spot any slight changes in expression. You may be able to spot whether or not they would have made their hand, and by correlating that data with the cards that were dealt, you can get an idea of what type of hand they had. You can then extrapolate this information to future hands, where you can make assumptions about a player’s range based on how they played hands in the past.
Not only can you gain valuable information such as this, but it can also help tilt the face off of your opponent! If they keep rabbit hunting and seeing that they’d make all these strong hands, they’ll likely start tilting and calling off with any draw in the hopes they can make up for lost time. When this happens, you can exploit them by betting aggressively for value with your strong hands.
As you can see above, all players folded (feature player folded Qc10d to the initial raise), and the rabbit-hunted flop would have brought the feature player top pair. Even though it was probably the right fold preflop, this information could cause some players to make looser calls going forward.
We wouldn’t recommend rabbit hunting for your own curiosity, as it’s easy to become results-orientated, but it has some practical applications. You can use it to either gain information from your opponents or possibly tilt them, giving you an advantage at the table. However, doing so frequently will slow the game down, so we think it’s best to limit your usage of this tactic to avoid making too many enemies at the poker table.
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