Slow playing in poker is very similar to bluffing in terms of its nature of being deceptive. However, slow playing is when a player tries not to reveal the strength of his hands in order to increase the size of the pot and bluff is when you don’t have strong hands but you decide to bet or raise. So if a player hits the nuts at the flop, he/she slow plays and maybe calls & lets his/her opponent think that they’re dominating the table.
Please note that we are only talking about the post-flop action in a No-limit Hold’em game because that’s when you have the flop on the table. You decide whether to play fast or slow in a game based on the flop.
So how do you decide whether you should slow play or not?
Types of Players on the Table
The strategy of slow playing becomes highly-effective if there are loose (who play several hands) or aggressive players (who tend to bet & raise in order to dominate) on the table. They will do the work for you and bet to increase the size of the pot.
So if you’re in position, you can simply call. If not, check and then call.
On the contrary, if you have tight or passive players. Do not bother to slow play against players who will frequently fold and are choosy in playing hands (tight) or tend to check or call when they decide to play a hand (passive).
Try and increase the value of the pot by yourself because if you see such players trying to stay in the game, there are high chances that they have very strong holdings. So tread carefully.
Type of Board
Say you are holding a pocket pair of sevens and the flop rolls out Js-Ac-7h. This type of dry/non-coordinated board doesn’t offer the possibility of flush draws or straight draws.
Slow playing in this situation is quite favourable because you can go ahead in the game without really helping your opponent with the turn and build the pot simultaneously.
Secondly, if you choose to bet, you’re basically telling your opponents that you want to go ahead with such a dry board. This will surely let most of your opponents fold. Take the lead if you have such holdings.
If the board is wet and has rolled out, say: As-8d-7h, you shouldn’t choose to slow play. The reasons behind this are:
First, with such a board, your opponents might’ve hit a pair or two or maybe flush draws or straight draws.
Second, you wouldn’t want your opponents to complete their draws on the turn.
Size of the Game
Let’s assume that you’re in a heads-up game with the same cards. It would be advised that you should slow play in the ‘right situation’. For example, if you have a dry board in front of you and your opponent is a loose/aggressive player, slow playing can be a suitable option.
On the other hand, a multi-player game will make things complex. Holding a set of sevens, you’d like to bet if you’re the first player to act or maybe raise in reply of a bet. Slow playing would be the least suitable strategy in this situation.
With so many players on the table, there are high chances that there’ll be players holding flush draws and straight draws. So you wouldn’t want the rest of the streets to roll out in their favour.
These tips can be followed most of the times, but poker is a very complex skill game and there’ll be situations where you have to make amendments in your strategy. Keep playing. All the best for your next game.