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The Power of Paying Attention to Showdowns


Sky Matsuhashi

on January 12, 2023

Showdowns are where you learn the most about each player. If you watched, and can remember, the action of the hand from preflop through to showdown, you can replay the hand in your mind and learn a lot about how a player thinks.

This means it’s critical that you pay attention to every hand dealt, even after you fold 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.

When you replay the hand in your mind, 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 hand they shoved with on the river.

What a wealth of information for those paying attention!

Here are the 4 insights I always try to gain from every showdown I see.

Listen to the podcast as you follow along below:

1. Showdowns Indicate a Player’s Logic

Replaying the action of the hand, while knowing what a player held at the time, gives an insight into the logic behind their decisions. This insight is extremely valuable as it 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. My student lost with a 2 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, BEWARE OF THE DONK BET WHEN DRAW COMPLETES)”

These insights only came because my student replayed the hand in his mind upon seeing showdown.


2. Showdowns Help You Spot Bet Size Patterns

You can learn so much from bet sizes after a showdown.

Some players naturally bet bigger for value and smaller for bluffs.  Other players minbet with every draw as a blocking bet to set their own price to complete the draw.

Here are some bet size patterns you could spot after seeing 4 showdowns against a particular player:

  • 1st Hand: Villain made a ½ pot bluff cbet 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 loose-aggressive, 1 tight-aggressive, 4 Fish and 1 unknown. We can call the unknown player “Mysterious Mandy”.

So, how do you play against her?

At the beginning, treat her like the average player. Maybe the average player folds King-high hands, underpairs and weak draws like low-end gutshot draws versus flop cbets. When “Mysterious Mandy” calls your 2/3 pot cbet 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 Fish and from this point forward, play against her accordingly. Now she’s “Mackerel Mandy” to you and this insight came from your very first hand with her because you saw what she held at showdown.


4. Showdowns Confirm a Player’s Use of Exploitative Plays

For online players who use a HUD, you’ll often notice a statistical frequency that looks like an exploit this player enjoys making.

For example, seeing a high Turn Float statistic of 60% or greater (betting on the turn when in position when the potential cbettor checks). This means they like to steal pots on the turn when the cbettor shows weakness by failing to double barrel cbet.

When a showdown reveals they held an Ace-high hand while floating the turn, that confirms they use the turn float to exploit weakness. Great!

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.


Take Action: Become a Showdown Inspector with 3 Parts

Part 1: Write the 4 insights above onto a sticky note and attach it to your monitor.

Part 2: In your next 2-3 play sessions, force yourself to pay attention to every showdown. Ditch the distractions! When you see showdown, replay the action of the hand to develop a better understanding of how your opponents approach the game.

Part 3: Try to take a player note with every showdown you see. Note what they did and why you think they did it. If this read gives you an exploit to use against them, great! Use that exploit at the next opportunity.

Now it's your turn to take action and do something positive for your poker game.


Become a Hand Reader Today

If you want to learn the most from every showdown, you must become a hand reader. The best and most efficient way is with the Online Poker Hand Reading Workbook.

A shout-out to these awesome poker peeps who've recently purchased it and their hand reading skills are shooting through the roof! Igor Joe, Chris Lynch, Daniel Sodja, Jim Gibson, Zahar Nazim, Ferenc Krizsa, Antonio Altamirano, Ron Schank, Alex Hawkins, David Parvin, Juan Cabona, Brendan Rojas, Edward Criss, Cristobal Quintin, Timmy Waumans, Stefan Vermeylen, Robert Swinford, David Martinez, Jason Hinchey, Chris Fetner, Brenda Tindall, Freddie Taulani, Ray Schwab, Jerel Robles and John Dancy.


Sky Matsuhashi

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