In this episode, I discuss the 5 benefits we gain from paying attention to every showdown, whether we’re involved in the hand or not.
If you missed it…
In episode 157, I answered three of your questions about post-flop bet sizing, working to increase your aggression and total implied odds.
What’s so important about hand reading? (2:30)
Hand Reading is the #1 skill we all must develop, and the only way to do so is to practice, practice, practice. That’s what my 66 Days of Hand Reading is all about. I’m showing you how it’s done using Flopzilla and a hand that went to showdown, while at the same time I’m improving my own skills.
The more I practice this off the felt, the more comfortable and more accurate I am when trying to do it on the felt.
Your hand reading skills won’t develop on their own, or just by watching some videos or listening to some podcasts. The best way to learn is to get active with your learning. Jim Kwik, a memory expert and coach, says that we learn best through creation, not consumption.
I want you to DO your daily studies; DO practice what you’re learning; Do actual hand reading exercises instead of watching others do it.
Studying Showdowns (4:45)
Showdowns are where we learn the most about our opponent. We see the exact hand they called with pre-flop, the hand they checked on the flop, the hand they check-raised with on the turn and the hand they shoved with on the river. We get a glimpse into the logic they use and we can take all this information, fold it into the other things we know about our opponent, and get a better understanding of the way they choose to play their hands.
If we’re paying attention to the action of the hand, even when we’re not involved, the SD is our opportunity to confirm our reads on every opponent at the table. And, I love making mistakes when hand reading. I accept them as part of the process, and I learn from my mistakes (as discussed in class #3). When I’m proved wrong, I get the opportunity to develop my read on my opponents. And the better my reads, the better decisions I will be making.
1. Showdowns Give Us Further Player Type Insights (6:05)
They tell us the general approach our opponents have to the hands they play. They may be tight or loose, and aggressive or passive. Maybe they’re loose and passive pre-flop and love to see flops, but post-flop they’re very straight-forward and honest with their bets and calls. They can also be loose and aggressive on every street and love to bluff opponents off hands. Maybe they call down no matter what with any TP hand. All of these characteristics are incredibly valuable to understand and will aid in our street by street actions against them.
Also, we can begin applying what we know about this one player to all other players of that type (call this population tendencies). For example, if we see a loose-passive player at 45/15 call down with 2nd pair OOP, we can add this understanding to all other loose-passive players. Sure, it might not be accurate for Bobby2345, but we know it’s accurate for Sam3434, SnoochieMcGee and Carol19 because we’ve seen all of them do it. Within your stakes, player types often play the same, so we can assume this is true for Bobby2345 as well, until he shows us he’s not capable of that. When he lets us know this through a future SD and his actions, we note that about him and use that info to hand read him a little better next time.
2. Showdowns Help Us Understand Street by Street Actions (7:35)
When we see a SD, we can replay the action of the hand to determine the strength of the opponent’s hand as they made each of their decisions. This is extremely valuable for future pots played with the opponent as careful dissection now can help us make great decisions later.
The other day I did a hand reading practice where my opponent donk lead for 1bb on all three streets. They showed down a low flopped over pair that become 2nd pair on the river Ace. This added to my opponent understanding as I noted that they are capable of making mindonk blocking bets with marginal hands.
I also reviewed another hand where my opponent raised my cbet, IP, with the nut fd. This is common with TAG and LAG regs, but I made a note of it anyway so that I can be on the lookout for it again in the future against this player.
With the knowledge of how they played street by street and the actions they took, we can make some exploitable notes on the player.
3. Showdowns Aid in Understanding Bet Sizing (11:40)
They give us some insight into our opponent’s choice of bet sizing. The size of bets can help to let us know when an opponent is bluffing or going for value.
Here’s a quick bet sizing example: An opponent makes a ½ pot bluff cbet on the flop with AKo on 972r. Great, ½ pot bluff w/ 2 overs. Later you see him make a ½ pot bet on the turn with a gs draw when his opponent checked to him. Later on you see him two times bet ¾ pot on the flop, once with a set and the other w/ TPTK. We can make an exploitive note on him like “1/2 pot = bluff, 2/3pot+ = value”.
Of course, this note will help us get away from marginal hands when he’s betting bigger, and should allow us to bluff him off hands or call with marginal hands when we suspect he’s bluffing.
4. Showdowns Confirm Our Opponent’s Understanding of Exploitive Plays (13:00)
It’s great when you catch an exploitative play your opponents like to use. One play that astute players like to use is the turn float. This means that they bet, IP, after you check the turn instead of firing a second cbet. You’re showing weakness by checking when you would normally be betting for value, and they push you off your hand with a simple bet, often at just ½ pot or maybe a little bit bigger. When you’re able to see a showdown where your opponent made this play with an Ace high or some weak draw or underpair, you know they’re capable of it. You can use this against them next time by check-raising them instead, of just firing that OOP flop cbet for value instead of a bluff b/c they’re just calling any way.
The more SD’s you pay attention to, the more plays like this you’ll catch. You can now see them coming, learn how to defend against them, and how to use them yourself as an exploit against susceptible opponents.
5. Showdowns Help You Spot Tells (14:00)
For poker players, whether LIVE or online, spotting tells will only help to improve your game.
For LIVE players, when you see a showdown and remember how the player reached for his chips, paused, then checked with an open palm when he turned the nut flush, that can help you in the future. When they quickly 3bet pre-flop by haphazardly moving a full stack in with TT, but later you see them calmly slide a stack in with AA, that’ll help in the future.
For online players, maybe you remember how your opponent timed down then over-shoved the turn with the nut flush draw, but in a different hand they quickly bet 2/3 pot on the turn with the set.
If you have a hard time remembering the action that just occurred, you’ve got to start paying more attention and try to remember their actions. Tell yourself you can do it, then do it. Recite the action in your head like a play by play announcer: “The BB called pre-flop, then donk bet for ½ pot on the flop of A92r. On the turn he just checked and when the flush completed on the river he quickly bet out 2/3 pot, like he liked that river card.”
Here’s my challenge to you for this episode: Remember the word of the day: DO. DO your own daily hand reading practice. DO it for just one week. That’s 7 showdown hands where you range yourself, your opponent or both at the same time. DO this and see how your game and your opponent understanding grows. You’ve listened to me discuss hand reading for 5 episodes now, and if you haven’t started doing yet, then get to it today.
Now it’s your turn to take action and DO something positive for your poker game.
Support the Show
Keep them 5 star Amazon Reviews rolling in! I want to thank Steven Bell and Demetris L. for leaving very nice reviews this past week. If you’d like to leave your review, click here.
A super huge thank you to Riverbend Will for his monthly support through Patreon. I truly appreciate it, Riverbend.
Kevin Bouchard chose to up his HUD game by purchasing the Smart HUD. He’s using this to analyze and exploit his opponents. You’d better hope you don’t encounter him at the tables. Get the Smart HUD here.
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Until next time, study smart, play much and make your next session the best one yet.