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Slow Playing in Poker

When To Slow Play In Texas Holdem

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There are so many different situations in poker and one key to winning is to know when/how to slow play your hand. What does slow playing actually do for you? It makes your opponents think that they have you beat. If you flopped a monster you'll want to slow play so your opponent may catch a hand to bet/call a decent amount. It also causes your opponents to bluff more. Slow playing isn’t only a technique to get the most out of your hand, but it can also be a way to have your strong hand taken down by a weaker one if it is not executed correctly.

Who to Slow Play Against

First of all, slow playing is a strategy that should be used when facing either advanced or aggressive opponents. The reason for this is that more advanced players are likely to try and steal pots when they feel weakness, and aggressive opponents like to buy many pots. The key is to trap your opponent, which is when they make a bet or raise in hopes of you folding. 

You do not want to just give them free opportunities to see another card. When you are facing very weak and inexperienced opponents, it is usually 
best to bet them out of the hand, as they will often just check when they don’t have anything. 

How to Slow Play

When people slow play they often think that it is best to check to their opponent. This is not always the case because you don’t want to give your opponent a free card. What you want to do is make a mediocre bet, that is smaller than your usual bet, to try to make them think that you are bluffing. Nothing’s better than flopping a straight and getting re-raised all in because your opponent felt you were bluffing. 

However, if you make that mediocre bet and your opponent only calls it, then next turn you want to bet him out, and if he happened to catch or has a feeling that you are bluffing, then you may have caller, which should mean more money for you. Now, there are the occasions that odds will go against you and you will lose your hand. That’s why you take a chance when slow playing in order get a bigger pot.

The Dangers of Slow Playing

Obviously slow playing isn’t 100% reliable. It’s a chance that you have to take. If you never slow play, you won’t see as many bad beats and for some people that’s what they want. No one wants bad beats, but if you are willing to take a risk you can really get paid off. 

The biggest danger of slow playing is that you give your opponent an opportunity to see a card cheaply. With that card they may catch a draw or even a stronger hand than you. If they get a straight or flush draw they may call a pretty large bet from you and of course they will eventually hit and win the hand. So there goes your whole idea of slow playing to win a bigger pot. If you don’t want to take the risk, bet your opponents out whenever you can.

Specific Situations

There are only a few occasions when you should check all the way to the river. If you hold AK and you flop a full house, slow playing is a good idea. If the flop is AAK, there's only one ace left in the deck, along with two kings. This makes it a long shot that your opponent has anything worth playing. However, if you check and allow a few free cards, your opponent can catch up. 

For example, if your opponent had J10, and you bet, he will probably fold. However, if you check and the turn is a Q, you are going to win a very nice pot. Also, if your opponent tries to steal at any point because of your checking, you will extract more money from him.

Another situation would be if you had a high pocket pair. You don’t want to slow play low pocket pairs even if the flop consists of all under cards because there is a pretty good chance that an over card will come up on the turn or river. If you have a high pocket pair, specifically AA or KK, you should slow play like you learned above.

There are so many situations when you should slow play and there’s no way to talk about them all. But then again, there are plenty of situations where you shouldn’t slow play. Make sure you think about your odds before you slow play and consider what your opponent may be holding. In almost every occasion you don’t want to slow play if there are several people in the hand, because the chances of one of them catching something stronger than you is much higher. The only exception would be if you catch a monster such as a flush, a full house, or better.

Overall it is a great idea to slow play, as long as you pick the right situations, the right opponents, and only do it on occasion. By following this strategy, slow playing will really help you build your stack if you do properly.