What is a Showdown?
In poker, a showdown occurs if one or more players remain in the game once bets have been placed and equaled after the river, the fifth community card dealt face-up in the middle of the table, has been dealt. To win the pot, players must then show their hands to determine whose is superior.
Many players, however, will muck (discard without revealing) their hand at the showdown, if they know or believe the other player to have a superior hand, since revealing the hand at the showdown would give information to the other players at the table based on how they played the hand. In general, the player who made the last bet or raise will be required to show their hand first, or in the event of every player checking on the river, the player sitting to the left of the dealer. However, sometimes to speed things up, players who are more likely to have a winning hand will be encouraged to show theirs first.
Since revealing a hand can give a large amount of information to other players sat at the table, the showdown can form a huge part of poker strategy by itself. Even when players suspect they have very little chance of winning at the showdown, they may still call a bet from their opponent purely to gain information. In online card rooms, most will have an ‘auto-muck’ feature which is enabled by default, which never reveals a player’s hand unless they are required to do so. In real-life card rooms, players may request to see any other player’s hand which is eligible for the showdown, although this is intended for when players are suspected of cheating or collusion, and is extremely poor etiquette to abuse.