How a Showdown Can Reveal a Lot About a Texas Hold Em Player's Style
Texas Hold Em poker players will all have different strategies and approaches to the game, which is what makes the game so unique as this individuality that each player brings to the table is what separates the game from others such as video poker or blackjack which are often played according to the same, best-probability strategy.
One of the frustrations (and what keeps it interesting!) of any version of poker, whether it is Texas Hold Em, Seven Card Stud or another, is that a player will have an incomplete picture of what cards their opponent has and the strength of their hand against which they are pitting their own and risking their own real money in the process. In Texas Hold Em poker this will be the two starting cards which are in fact critical as they are the only part of an opponent's hand which the player cannot see, as the other five cards are communcal and are face up on the table in full view for everyone to see. Not being able to see these two cards means a player can never be sure if their opponent is bluffing when they raise or whether they do in fact hold those two missing components of that potential royal flush.
Pay Attention to an Opponent's Hand in a Showdown
There will however be opportunities to see these cards though when they are involved in a showdown. They will be required to show their cards to determine whether they do indeed hold the strongest hand. Even if you are not involved in this showdown and have folded your cards for this particular hand and are not contesting this pot, make sure that you take the opportunity to see what two cards that rival at the table did have. By analysing their betting actions that went with these cards you can learn a lot about their playing style. For example if they raise aggressively before the flop and then showdown with a strong pair such as a pair of aces or kings, then you can suppose with some degree of certainty that on another hand when they raise aggressively they again hold a high pair. In contrast, if they were betting and raising at the start and then showdown with two cards that were pretty speculative at best, then it may perhaps sometimes be worth calling their future raises as they may be prone to bluffing.
Conclusion - Always Watch and Learn About Opponents
Poker is often described as a game of incomplete information and deception, with Texas Holdem poker certainly being no different and fitting this description perfectly. Seeing an opponent's two starting cards whenever they are forced to reveal them in a showdown can give you an invaluable glimpse into their playing strategy and way of thinking, so make sure that you pay attention when it is offered to you and do not get distracted and look at other things just because you have folded or are sitting out this particular hand. This can be a classic mistake that many online poker players make, as when they fold they minimise the screen or go fetch a drink from the kitchen before the start of the next hand, and miss out on this glimpse into an opponent's mindset.