• July 24, 2021

Why You Shouldn’t Slow-Play

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Slow-playing, for the most part, is counterproductive. If your goal is to get the most money in the pot, how are you going to do that by checking? You build pots by betting your big hands, not by lurking in the weeds with them.
Here’s an example of your average slow play:
Effective stacks $200; blinds $1/$2. You’re dealt 6♥ 6♣ on the button. A player from early position raises $6 and you make the call.
The flop comes out 3♣ 6♠ A♣. Your opponent bets $10. You call. The turn is the T♦.
Your opponent bets $18 and you just call. The river is the 7♦. Your opponent checks and you bet $35. Your opponent calls. You table your set of sixes and he mucks his A♠ K♣. You scoop a $138 pot.
OK, so you won a $138 pot. You might be patting yourself on the back saying “Nice hand.” This is not a nice hand.
When you flop a big hand like a set, you want to play for stacks. This is what you’ve been waiting for, folding 6-2 and 5-9 all day. So now that you’ve finally hit your monster, you want to waste it by trying to slow-play? That kind of strategy is just wrong-headed.
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Times When Slow-Playing Is Correct
Yes, you’re right. In poker, one strategy is never always correct. You always need to take into consideration the table dynamics, your image, your opponents’ playing tendencies, etc. before you decide how to act.
I’m not advocating never slow-playing. I’m just encouraging you to use it sparingly.
One situation where slow-playing is correct is against an ultra-aggressive player whom youknow to have a history of betting three streets strong with weak holdings and who will continue their aggression until they are played back at. In that case it is not terrible to slow-play.
As an example:
You’re playing an extremely aggressive opponent. You have seen him bet three streets with as little as ace-high.
Effective stacks $200; blinds $1/$2. You’re dealt T♣ T♥ in the small blind. The ultra-aggressor raises to $8 UTG and it’s folded to you. You elect to just call. The flop comes down T♠ 2♣ 5♦.
You check and your opponent bets $20. You just call. The turn comes 5♠. You check and your opponent bets $65. You call.
The river comes A♠. You bet $100 and your opponent calls with A♣4♠. You pick up the pot with your full house.
In this situation you know your opponent is ultra-aggressive. You know he’s going to be betting with practically anything. He will build the pot for you. So there is no need to raise and make him fold his weak hand.
This situation isn’t a common one, so you have to be in tune with the table dynamics. You’ll need to be certain this opponent is willing to keep betting. Also notice in the example that the hero bet the river.
It’s very risky to go for a check-raise when our hand is this strong. If the river goes check-check we could lose a lot of value.
So there you have it. You don’t have to stop slow-playing all together. However, if you are making a habit out of slow-playing all your big hands than you are probably losing out on a ton of value!
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Steve Carr

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