Poker Showdown Value (SDV) Versus Pure Value

One of the toughest things to do in poker is to classify your hand correctly betwen value and showdown value (SDV).  To make matters more confusing, how you classify your hand is relative to your opponent and their ranges/frequencies.  The concept of SDV presents lots of confusion, especially on turns and rivers, so learning this today is 100% in your favor.  In this free video you will learn what showdown value is, how to figure out if your hand has SDV, and basic line creation when you have this hand class.  As always, if you enjoy reading you can read the script below.  Enjoy!

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Hello, and welcome to today’s Quick Plays video on Showdown value. Showdown value is a postflop concept that helps us classify our hand, but it’s often times misunderstood and easily confused. In this video you will learn what showdown value is, why it’s relative, and see how to apply the concept at the tables!

To understand showdown value we need to first understand what value is. If you haven’t seen it already, check out our Quick Plays video on value betting postflop. In a nutshell, a postflop value bet is when we bet and are ahead of the range villain would continue with. This inherently means that our hand is best often enough and by betting we expect to get value from our opponents continuing range…

reasons for betting

Showdown value on the other hand is when we expect our hand is ahead but that a bet isn’t valuable. Remember, we normally bet for one of two reasons: to bluff and get our opponent to fold better hands, or we make a value bet to get our opponent to continue with enough worse hands. If our hand has showdown value we normally assume it’s too strong to turn into a bluff, but not strong enough to warrant a value bet.

Let’s look at example to make this more tangible…

In this hand we open with JTs from MP, the button calls, and we see a HU flop of

Q♠ 9♦ 6♦

We Cbet for $4.5 and he calls. The turn is a 3s and we semi-bluff again for $11. He calls and we catch a Ten on the river. Now what?

Essentially we can visualize our hand like this on the river. If we could bet and get enough worse hands to continue, this is a value bet. If by betting villain would not continue with enough worse hands, a bet would only turn our hand into a bluff. But if we get to showdown in this situation, especially when the river goes check-check, we expect to be ahead a non-zero percentage of the time. It’s this mindset of “a bet isn’t really for value but I expect my hand would win at showdown often enough” that helps us know our hand has showdown value!

Now, we can only deduce this by thinking about ranges. What range did villain get to the river with and what range would he give a bet action with? Let’s assign villain this range by the time he gets to the river: AQ, KQ, 98s, 87s, 76s, and A♦J♦. Of course, this isn’t a complete nor even correct range, it just simplifies things for this example.

hypothetical ranges

I always ask myself if I could bet for value. But if by betting he would fold 98s, 76s, and A♦J♦, that means he only continues against our bet with hands that beat our pair of Tens. This wouldn’t be a value bet and instead our hand shifts towards showdown value since we are ahead of parts of ranges, but not ahead against enough of his continuing range.

I always ask myself if I should bet and turn a hand like this into a bluff. But if by betting he wouldn’t fold top pair or the straight, we couldn’t expect better hands to fold often enough. So a bet wouldn’t do anything, and our only option left would be to check and play poker. Hopefully villain will check behind and we can actualize our showdown value!

Now the concept of showdown value and value are relative. Our hand may shift closer to value against one opponent but the exact hand may shift closer to showdown value against another. Take an example where we 3bet Ace King preflop and villain calls. The flop comes K♠ Q♥ 7♦ and villain checks.

Let’s assume villain called our 3bet with a range of TT+/AK. If we were to bet this against a nitty player is he going to continue with TT or JJ? Is he ever going to fold QQ, KK, or AA? Would he ever fold AK? Against a nitty player I don’t expect him to continue with those worse hands or ever fold better hands…so a bet isn’t really for value in this exact spot. This means our hand shifts closer to SDV against a nit.

classify your hand

But if villain were fishy that means two things: 1 is that he likely called the 3bet with a wider range of hands including 99, 88, and AQ. And 2 is that he will likely call a flop bet with a wider range of hands as well. A fishy player still isn’t folding KK or QQ, but they are going to continue with JJ, TT, and AQ much more often…thus shifting our hand closer to value against him.

Notice how relative this is. We have the exact same hand strength against both players, a top pair top kicker…but against each one our hand shifts differently towards value or SDV. This is often times the case though. Against fishy players our hands shift closer towards value since we’ll beat more of their continuing range. And against tighter, nittier players, single pairs shift closer to SDV in many spots.

Knowing what showdown value is is important, but improving your hand reading skills will help you get the most from this knowledge. By hand reading well you will be able to put your opponent on a better range of hands and you can then make assumptions on how he’d continue with different hands. Keep practicing this skill and overtime your abilities will get stronger and stronger.

In spots where you have SDV it’s more common to check and try to get to showdown. It doesn’t mean that you will always check/call, nor that you will always check/fold…it just means that a bet isn’t valuable enough and that trying to get to showdown will be the better line.

Same as always, if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to let me know…otherwise…good luck and happy grinding!

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