Slow play in poker
The goal of poker is in winning as much money and chips (in tournaments) as possible. To win chips/money is the goal of the game. By the way, the possibility not only to entertain but also to earn some attracts many players into the game. In general, all the strategies you use are implying lead to the reach of the aforementioned goal.
The beginners in poker often make the same mistake: they play strong hands in a too passive manner. Such way of playing strong hands is called slow play. Usage of slowplay is not always connected with the main goal of the game we’ve designated in the first paragraph, on the contrary, when poker beginners are using slowplay they usually win less money/chips.
Why we shouldn’t use slow play
If your goal is in investing as many chips in the pot as possible (when you are holding a strong hand), how are you going to reach this by making check? You can increase the size of the pot only by making bets, not by hiding in the bushes with the strong hands.
There is a typical example of using slow play in the poker hand:
Effective stacks are $200; blinds are $1/$2. You have on the button. The player from early position (more info about positions in poker) raises to $6, you call. Flop is . Villain bets $10. You call. Turn is . The villain bets $18 and you call again. The river is . Villain checks, you bet $35. He calls. You show a set of sixes and he mucks .
You get the pot of $138. Excellent, you have won $138. You could be pleased with yourself telling 'well played' to yourself.
To be honest, this was an awful play. When you flop a hand as strong as set on such flop texture you’ve got to try to play for stack. This is the situation you’ve been waiting for whole day throwing away and . Now when you’ve got the monster you’ve been waiting for, you neglect the opportunity to win a solid pot using the slowplay. This is a mistake.
Strong hands need huge pots
If you were lucky enough to catch a monster, you should think about getting the whole stack of the opponent. It is very difficult to win the whole stack of the opponent playing passively (making checks and calls only). Why? Slowplay, as a rule, allows winning only small pots.
Your goal is to get whole your stack to the middle of the table. If the pot remains small, this becomes a very difficult task. You can’t just shove $200 into the pot of $4 as only imbecilic opponent will call such a bet without having an absolute nuts. We hope you agree.
A consistent pot increase will lead to it becoming of a decent size to the river. Then you’ll be able to easily put the rest of your stack in the middle of the table.
In the example Villain played his hand well. In situations like that most opponent would do the same. He made bets on two streets and after getting the calls played standard check/call on the river. He played like that as he was afraid of getting a raise (you would definitely do in this situation).
It is difficult to make him pay your set by making calls on two streets. Should you raise the flop, he would have called it with his TPTK (top pair top kicker). That way you would have made the pot bigger.
Let’s have a look at the same hand played without slowplay:
Effective stacks are $200; blinds are $1/$2. You are on CO position. The opponent opens for $6 from early position. The other players fold, you call, BU, SB and BB fold as well. You are heads-up to the flop . Villain bets $10. You don’t slowplay and raise $45. Villain calls. Turn is . Villain checks. Now there is $102 in the pot and around $150 in your stack. You bet $70. Villain makes a stubborn call. River . Villain checks, you bet the remaining $80, he calls and loses the stack to your set of sixes.
By consistently increasing the size of the pot you’ve invested the entire stack. Big pot gives your opponent poor pot odds for call. He probably felt he’s behind on the river but it is difficult to fold after you’ve invested 60% of your stack and getting 4 to 1 on call.
Situations where slowplay is justified
There is no one right strategy for all situations in poker. Trying to find the perfect way to play the hand you should think of the action on the table, your image, opponents’ game tendencies and so on.
This article we do not encourage you to never use the slow play when playing poker, we just advise you not use it too often.
The example of the situation where playing slow is going to be favorable to you is when you fight for the pot against super aggressive player. For instance, you know he’s going to bet on three streets with a weaker hand but will probably stop being aggressive seeing the raise from you. In that case, there is nothing wrong with the slowplay here.
You are opposed to hyper-aggressive player. You saw him betting three streets with the weak hand like 'Ace high'. Effective stacks are $200; blinds are $1/$2. You have on SB. Hyper aggressor raises from UTG to $8, everyone folds. You decide just to call his raise. Flop: . You check, Villain bets $20. You just call again as there is no point in making raise your opponent had very few hands in his range for making a call of this check-raise and you just make him fold with all his bluffs.
The turn is . You check, Villain bets $65. You call and see the river . You check, Villains pushes all-in, you call and your poker hand combination of full house and beats his .
You know that your hyper aggressive opponent will bet even with air in this situation. He will blow the pot himself That way, there is no point in making a raise making him fold his weak hand.
This situation won’t repeat itself very often, You should watch the table dynamics and be sure he will continue betting.
Now you know a little something about the concept of slow play in poker. However, don’t use it too much as you risk losing tons of value should you slowplay as a default.
More similar articles can be found at the section fundamentals of poker.
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