Poker Articles

Slow Play

This strategy is a trapping style in poker. The goal of slow playing is to disguise the strength of your hand by playing it weak to get your opponent to make overbets or overcalls with a weaker hand. It will add a layer of deception to your poker game and can lead to some big payoffs, but there are dangers to these plays and you'll need to know when to use it and when not to.

Example, we're playing a shorted handed 3 player NL Holdem game, you're holding AA in the Big Blind, the button makes a standard 3x Big Blind raise and the Small Blind folds. The normal play would be to re-raise since you are holding the best hand, but the problem with this re-raise is that you give away information about your premium hand. When the button decides to call you will only get more action on the flop, turn and river, if he happens to have you beat. So the pre-flop re-raise reduces your potential profits in the hand. By just calling there is a wide range of hands you could be holding. So the strength of your hand is disguised and you could get a big payoff if the other player makes top pair Slow playing is not just done preflop but can be done on the flop, turn and river, depending on how aggressive and strong your opponent is.

Slow plays tend to work better against certain player types and can be very dangerous against other player types, so first you need to consider the player's habits. The slow play works best against LAGG players that constantly raise and bet. If you slow play big hands, you can call all the way until the river, where you re-raise your opponent. These aggressive types will always attack weakness and by showing them weakness by just calling they will continue keep betting. There also are fish, who will not bet unless they have a made hand. This becomes dangerous situation with draws on the community board. When a slow player checks to the fish will givie them a free cards to outdraw you.

If you want to slow play you must be willing to fold once you know you are beaten. Slow playing also increases the chance of being outdrawn. In order to succesfull slow play you'll have to accept that and fold when the fish gets lucky.

Another consideration is how many players are there left on the table. Slow play tends to be a more successful strategy when it gets short handed. This because short handed play encourages players to loosen their range of starting hands and also show more aggression. With a premium dominating hand, you want to maximize your expected value by deceiving your opponents and not giving away the strength of your hand.

Slow playing is useful but dangerous, so stick to the following rules:
  • Only slow play against an aggressive player
  • Don't slow play against passive fish
  • Only slow play when there are two or less other players in the hand
  • Stop slow playing when the board is dangerous, if there are flushes or straight draws
  • Fold when you think you are beat
  • Don't slow play if you are normally an aggressive player. your opponent's will pick up that you're suddenly playing passive


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