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When to Slow Play

Slow playing is defined as weakly betting or checking a strong hand with the hope of deceiving an opponent to put more money into a pot than they otherwise would. Slow playing can be an effective strategy in the hands of a pro, but is one of the most misused ideas by beginners. Many a times a novice player will slow play themselves into a losing position and then foolishly bet aggressively after they are beat.

One of the worst possible things you can do in poker, is allow opponents free cards when you have a modest, but winning hand. It is amazing how often new players give a free flop and a cheap turn with AA only to find that they are suddenly up against two pair and all-in at a massive disadvantage. Generally, you should never slow play AA. Slow playing AA will lead to disaster far more often than it will lead to big wins.

Similarly, top pair is almost never strong enough to slow play. You simply can not be giving people free or cheap cards when you have a small to modest advantage. In addition to the possibility of being outdrawn by an unpredictable hand, you are failing to get anything in the pot while you have the lead.

Proper slow playing situations are rare and require most or all of the following to be true:

1) You must have a very strong hand. If you are going to give cards, you better have a strong enough hand to win when your opponent hits. Trips is certainly slow playable in most situations, but two pair often is not. Slow playing top pair is almost never advisable.

2) The free or cheap card must give your opponent a chance to make a second best hand. If you have trips and let an opponent pick up two pair, you'll probably make out big, but if you flop a flush and let your opponent draw to top pair it won't do you a lot of good.

3) The free or cheap card must have very little chance of giving your opponent the best hand or even a strong draw to the best hand. If you flop two pair on a KQ5 flush draw board, you can't give your opponent a free shot at the flush or straight. If they have the draw you either want them to fold or make a bad call, and if they have anything they aren't likely to call no matter what happens.

4) You must believe that aggression will drive out opponents. If your opponents will call a bet with their current hand there is no reason not to make them do so.

Finally, a slow play will only be effective if your opponents don't see it coming. If you have K7 on a 77x board and try to slow play, no one will be fooled. Betting out is often the more deceptive and lucrative play in such situations.

JackRag


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