What Is Slow Playing in Poker?
Trapping or Slow Playing an opponent is a deceptive poker play where a player with a monster hand bets inadequately or short the pot. The main goal of slow playing in poker is to set-up your opponents into playing a hand who might have otherwise folded to a raise or wager more than they would normally would have if you bet or raised too much.
I am noting the definition of the slow play technique in poker so I do not forget. This is when I make certain the true strength of my hand is disguised so I can lay a successful trap for my opponent. Sometimes, when I make a very quiet call as opposed to an aggressive raise, my opponent will immediately start betting on another round. This is when I can trap opponent and help insure he makes additional bets.
In the instances when I am the first one to make a move, I can check. I do this because my intention is to raise as soon as my opponent places a bet and the action has returned back to me. Remember I can call a monster hand in order to slow play. I can use this poker strategy so my opponent will believe my poker hand is weak. If my opponent takes the bait, on the subsequent betting round I can raise.
My goal is always the same in all poker tournaments. I want to win as much money as I possibly can from my opponents and maximize the value of any given poker hand. I use slow playing when my hand is very strong and I am not worried my opponent might get a specific card or two to improve their hand to a higher station than mine. Slow playing ensures my opponents will be putting more money into the pot prior to my revealing the true strength of the hand I am holding.
Slow Play to Maximize Value
I understand both poker rules and poker strategies. I know when I allow my opponent to fill the role of aggressor, I am making certain their commitment to the pot is going to substantially increase. Always remember the importance of this particular strategy. If my opponent has not made much of an investment in the pot, then places just a small bet, the chances are good he is not going to call. The only exceptions are if his poker hand is extremely strong or if he had started to have a strong suspicion I am bluffing.
Examples of a Slow Play
If I come out betting, I am basically informing my opponent that I may have a two pair or an Ace. I know since my opponent raised prior to the flop, he is aware I have a minimum of an Ace and may possibly be holding a set or two pair.
I do not want to scare away my opponent. This is especially true if he is an analytical or a savvy player. I know I can choose to defer my option to make a move until later by simply slow-playing. I also realize if I use this poker strategy, there is no way my opponent can make any accurate assumptions about the strength of my cards.
If my opponent does make any assumptions, it will mostly likely be the reason I checked is because my hand is either a draw or marginal. My opponent is going to assume I am hoping to take a peek at another card on the cheap.
I have to remember I am given another chance to think about my options when the bait is taken by my opponent and they place a bet for approximately 25 percent of the pot. At this time, I can either call or alert my opponent that my hand is really big by raising. If I do this, chances are good my opponent will most likely believe I have some kind of draw. Since there are three different suits in the flop, my opponent will most likely believe I have either a hand similar to an A-Q or A-J or a straight draw. Either way they will assume I have a draw and a pair.
I will be hoping this is exactly what my opponent believes. This is because it will most likely cause him to place another bet on the turn. My opponent does not want me to inexpensively complete my draw. This means he is going to make a bet. Turn card 4h, and check so my opponent will make another bet. Believing my opponent’s bet will be the size of the pot. I know I am going to call at this point because the river card is a blank, the 8c.
I enjoy winning poker tournaments, so I am going to check again if my opponent plays aggressively. This will ensure he is going to place another bet. This time, my opponent’s bet will probably be about fifty percent of the pot because he is going to make a value bet. If I am correct, my opponent will be exactly where I want him. Since our stacks were around the same when we both started, my opponent will probably call if I raise an all-in. He will then have to make the decision to release his hand or make the call for all of his chips.
In either case, playing aggressively would not have provided the same results as slow-playing. I was able to provide my opponent with both the opportunity and the motive for him to wager aggressively resulting in my opponent putting himself in an extremely tight corner. All he can do now is either make a tough fold or a tough call. I will be the one to profit from his damned if he does or doesn’t choices.
When My Opponent is Not Aggressive
I must remember the importance of reading between the lines for all poker games. I have learned from experience slow-playing is not the right strategy against every opponent or in every single circumstance. My strategy would not have been successful if I was facing an opponent who requires either the best hand or something fairly close to make a big wager or an opponent who does not play aggressively.
As soon as I checked and called, my opponent would have become rather cautious. I have to remember this is different from an aggressive opponent because they will see my check and call differently. They will see my move as a drawing hand that is not quite there yet or believe I am showing weakness.
I have always equated the more cautious opponents as those who are constantly finding monsters beneath their beds. On the turn, a cautious opponent would most likely check right behind me. I have found this extremely likely when my opponent is prone to placing large bets with only very bad hands or extremely good ones. This type of opponent will check just to ensure the pot remains smallish with holdings of a medium strength.
When my opponent has an extremely strong hand, I know they have nothing to fear. When their hand is weak, their conscience will be clear if they fold after I check-raise them. If my opponent has a poker hand of medium strength and I re-raise them, the decision they have to make is going to be tough. I also know they will make the wrong conclusion the majority of the time. This means the smart opponents will take the steps necessary to avoid being in this type of situation in the first place.
Determining if the Strength of My Hand is Worth a Slow Play
I must always remember my decision to slow play is partially based on the playing style and the characteristics of my opponent. The way my cards will most likely hold up for the rest of the hand is also very important. I know slow-playing would be a very bad choice when I am facing more than one opponent, there is a draw heavy board and the best hand for the flop is mine.
The last thing I want to do is give an inexpensive opportunity to my opponents so they can beat my hand. Since I have never feared a draw, I can always provide the opportunity my opponents need to improve. This is especially true when they are drawing to the 2nd best hand.
If my flop is a full house, I will be extremely pleased to see my opponents taking one or two cards because they are hoping to achieve a flush. Once they have completed their hands, I know this will cost them more money.
I have learned slow playing means I have to make some discerning and fine judgments. Remember not to be too greedy. I can make the decision to build a larger pot by taking a risk because statistically speaking I am way ahead and I believe I will win because of the odds. If one of my opponents miraculously receives the right card, and they win the pot I believed was going to be mine, so be it.
I always adhere to the general rule. I am increasing my risks if I choose to slow play when my hand is very strong in comparison to the hands my opponents might make according to the composition of the board. There may be a scenario where a number of draws are supported by the board that may cause me to lose the pot. In this instance my best strategy would be to make a big enough bet to price my opponents from the hands they are speculating on.
Unless my hand is so big it would be impossible for my opponents to beat it despite the cards they receive on the subsequent wagering rounds, slow playing can either work for me or give an advantage to my opponents. To be the best possible poker player, to make it to the WSOP, I must remember the right time to price my opponents from drawing their hands. Once I have allowed them to catch up a little bit, I can use the subsequent betting rounds to stack them off.
Slow Play – FAQ
What is slow playing in poker?
This means you're are checking a great hand to get your opponents to bet. You can then raise on a later street.
Should you always slow play a strong hand?
Definitely Not! A good player will know what you are doing. You're actually disguising your hand more by betting out, but throw in the slow-play once in a while.
What is a slow roll in poker?
This is when someone very slowly reveals that they have the winning hand, This is bad poker etiquette. Don't be that guy.
Is slow rolling in poker illegal?
Slow rolling isn't illegal in poker, but it's frowned upon. Other players will think you are a lowlife.