The Do’s and Don’ts of Slow Playing


For those of you who think thatslow playing is a person thinking for a long time before making a decision, you are wrong. Rather, it is referred to a player playing a monster hand weakly in order to entice the opponent to bet into them/contribute more chips into the pot.

What this basically means is that if you flop the nuts, you check to your opponent and allow him to make a raise and simply call behind them to hide the strength of your hand until you can find the right spot to put in a re-raise. 

Slow-playing is essentially a deceptive play. If executed properly, you can end up winning a significantly bigger pot than you might have if you would have taken the betting lead. What we have here is going to be a list of Do’s and Don’ts while slow playing.

We’ll be focusing on post flop play here, although you can slow-play even before the flop! For example, you have Aces in the big blind and a very loose/aggressive player raises you from late position.

You can simply flat call instead of re-raising in order to build a pot even before the community cards arrive!  We’ll be focusing on post flop play- the flop and the turn where you have a choice to slow play or be aggressive – because there’s no slow playing after the river!

The Do’s

Let’s imagine that you have 7♠7♣ and you flop a set on the flop. You are most certain that you have the best in this spot and would like to get maximum value for your monster. 

1. Slow Play Against Loose/Aggressive Players

Slow-playing works best against players who play a higher percentage of hands or those who tend to take the betting lead on the flop and post flop streets. They’re the ones who basically “bet the hand for you” and start building the pot. 

Against such players, it is most profitable to just call or if you’re out of position, check and then call their raise, and then raise them on the turn. Against some loose players you can also think about taking the betting lead on the flop and let them raise you to build the pot even more. 

This strategy of “trapping the opponent” works best against loose/aggressive players who are more likely to take the bait. This might also work at low stakes live games or online games where people aren’t paying attention to how you’ve been playing.

2. Slow Playing On Dry/Rainbow Flops

You have 7♠7♣ and the flop comes: K 2♣ 7This is a very dry/uncoordinated flop, with no flush/straight draws. This is a very favourable position to slow play for two reasonsOn this board texture, there are no “bad” cards that can come on the turn that would jeopardize the strength of your hand, so you shouldn’t mind giving away a “free card”. 

Flopping a set on this kind of board is a very strong hand and we want maximum value when we do flop well. If you choose to bet in this spot, there’s a high chance that your opponent will fold. Leading out on a dry board like this would make anything less than a pocket pair or a King, fold. 

3. Slow Playing in Heads Up Situations

Slow playing is encouraged when you flop a monster and you’re heads-up rather than in a multi-way pot. If your opponent is loose/aggressive and the board is dry/uncoordinated, slow playing heads-up should be your prime option. Multiple players in the pot make slow playing more complex and harder to define the right move.

The Don’ts

Let’s continue with the same situation. You have 7♠7♣ and have flopped a set. Let’s look at some factors that might discourage you to slow play.

1. Don’t Slow Play Against Tight/Passive Players

Players who do not play a lot of pots or when they are doing a lot of checking and calling are harder to extract value from when slow playing. You cannot count on such players to bet out themselves. Rather, you’ll be the one having to do the work in order to build up a sizable pot.

Leading out against such types of players is a better decision because if they’re calling, it tells you that they have a valuable hand and also, such players are likely to stick around to see the turn and the river. Trying to trap such players could lead you to miss out on postflop value!

2. Slow Playing On Wet/Coordinated Flops 

You have 7♠7♣ and the flop comes: 8 Q♠ 7This is a very wet/coordinated board texture, where your opponent is likely to be drawing to a flush or a straight. You should never be slow playing in a spot like this for two reasons.

You don’t want to be checking the flop and let your opponent see a “free card” that might help them complete their draws. On this type of flop, there are a lot of cards that could make you feel less confident about your flopped set.

Also, these are boards that are more likely to have hit your opponents’ hands — they may have those draws, or they might have one-pair or even two-pair hands and will therefore be more likely to call if you bet.

If they do have, say, just a pair and the turn is a “scare card” that appears to complete a draw, they might shut down after that which means you’ll miss value later on in the hand. 

3. Don’t Slow Play In A Multi-Way Pot

If you flop a set or better, in a multi-way pot, it’s always better to bet or re-raise your opponent than slow playing. Multi-way pots mean that there is a higher chance of one of your opponents catching some piece of the flop as well as a higher chance of potentially dangerous turn and river cards which could help one of them in making a better hand than yours.

All these tips and advice show you the best possible way to deal with certain situations. We recommend you not to try to make “fancy” or not-straightforward plays unnecessarily. Only slow play if the situation requires you to and it is the best avenue for you to extract value out of your opponent. Always try to be unpredictable but always be ready to break them if the circumstances suggest you should.

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