It’s critical to pay attention to every hand dealt at the table, even after folding 72o from under the gun.
When you let ESPN, TikTok, or anything else pull your attention from the table, you’re limiting your ability to learn from the actions of your opponents.
And showdowns are where you learn the most about each player.
If you watched poker hands from the start through showdown, you can replay the hand in your mind and learn a lot about how a player thinks.
You see the exact hand they called with pre-flop, the strength of hand they check-called with on the flop, the hand they check-raised 3x with on the turn, and the what they shoved on the river.
What a wealth of information for those paying attention!
Here are the four insights I always try to gain from every showdown at the table.
1. Showdowns Teach You a Player’s Logic
Replaying the action of the hand, while knowing what a player held, illuminates the exact logic behind their decisions. This insight is extremely valuable and will help you make exploitative plays later.
The other day, my student played a hand against a very passive opponent. In the hand, his opponent check-called the flop and turn with a nut flush draw. My student bet 2/3 pot on the flop then 3/4 pot on the turn.
When the flush hit the river, his opponent donk bet 3/4 pot, and my student called. He lost with a two pair hand, but by paying attention to showdown, he saw that his opponent plays the nut flush draw passively from OOP and is willing to call large bets.
My student made a player note from this hand that read:
“OOP calls w/nfd vs. big bets (VALUE BET BIG ON WET AND INCOMPLETE BOARDS, DONK BET FOR VALUE WHEN DRAW COMPLETES)”
These insights only came because my student replayed the hand upon seeing showdown, and this will surely make much better decisions against that opponent on other hands.
2. Showdowns Help You Spot Bet Size Patterns
You can learn so much from bet sizes after a showdown in poker.
Some players naturally bet bigger for value and smaller for bluffs. Other players minbet with every draw as a blocking bet, so they don’t have to pay too much to hit their draw.
Here are some bet size patterns you could spot after seeing showdowns against a particular player:
- 1st Hand: Villain made a ½ pot bluff c-bet on the flop with AK.
- 2nd Hand: Villain made a ½ pot bluff bet on the turn with a gutshot draw.
- 3rd Hand: Villain made a ¾ pot value bet on the flop with a set.
- 4th Hand: Villain made a ¾ pot value bet when the 3rd spade hit the turn, giving him a flush.
Your note for this player might read: “1/2 pot = bluff, 3/4 pot = value; BEWARE HIS LARGER BETS”.
This note will help you get away from marginal hands when he makes bigger bets, and you can attempt bluff raising or bluff catching with a call when he bets 1/2 pot.
3. Showdowns Help You Categorize Players
Let’s imagine you’re at a full ring table with 8 opponents: 2 LAG’s, 1 TAG, 4 Fish, and 1 unknown. We can call the unknown player, “Mysterious Mandy.”
So, how do you play against her?
In the beginning, treat her like the average player. Maybe the average player folds King-high hands, underpairs, and weak draws like low-end gutshot draw versus flop c-bets. When “Mysterious Mandy” calls your 2/3 pot continuation bet from out of position in the first hand you play against her, you can remove this group of weaker hands from her flop continuation range.
The hand progresses through the streets and gets to showdown.
You learn that when she called your 2/3 pot cbet from out of position on the flop, she held a King-high backdoor flush draw. That’s it!
After just this one showdown hand, you can now tag “Mysterious Mandy” as a recreational player, and from this point forward, play against her accordingly. Now she’s “Mackerel Mandy” to you.
4. Showdowns Confirm a Player’s Use of Exploitative Plays
Sometimes you’ll look at a player’s HUD statistics, and you’ll notice a frequency that looks like an exploit this player enjoys making.
An example of this is seeing a high Turn Float statistic of 60% or greater (betting on the turn from in position when the potential c-bettor checks). This means they like to steal pots on the turn when the c-bettor shows weakness by failing to double-barrel.
It’s great when a showdown confirms your read on a player’s statistic.
When a showdown reveals, they held an Ace-high hand while floating the turn, which confirms they use the turn float to exploit weakness.
So, what can you do with this information? You can use their exploit against them in the future by check-raise bluffing or checking to induce a bluff from them.
The more showdowns you pay attention to, the more plays like this you’ll catch.
So, keep your eyes peeled for every showdown, replay the hand in your mind, and use the insights you gain to exploit your opponents. If you want to learn even more, you can always check poker training sites to up your game.