Poker Strategy – Slow Playing

Poker Strategy - Slow PlayingVery often, you will find weak poker players slow playing too much. This is based in the endless human desire to be ‘tricky’ and deceitful in a game that appears so full of deception. Here we give out a few recommendations for a good Poker Strategy when it comes to slow playing.

Shallower Stacks

This assumes that stacks are deep enough for you to get three streets of value from your hand. In this case the slow playing strategy is far safer if one or two bets will be enough to get all the money in anyway, as checking one street will not cost you a big bet on the river.

In this example, slow playing would be correct if the effective stacks were $300-$400. In that case, you would not cost yourself much when your opponent flops a pair. Even if you do check the flop, you will get most of his stack, so you might as well give him a chance to turn a pair before you start building the pot.

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Aggressive Opponents

There is more value in slow playing against opponents who will make big bluffs and thin value bets. Suppose that in the above example, you were out of position and believed that your opponent would bet 80% of pot with top pair on all three streets if you kept checking and calling.

In that case, slow playing would be correct. Not only would you give him a chance to turn a pair if he doesn’t already have one, but you could also potentially win even more money from his top pair by check-raising the river. Even if he doesn’t call, you haven’t lost anything relative to betting the flop.

Note that if you were in position you would still need to bet the flop. This is because your aggressive opponent would not have the opportunity to bet his top pair even if he wanted to, as your check closes the action.

Balance

We have considered the merits of slow playing without consideration for how you would play other hands in your range. There are circumstances when you might choose to slow play a very strong hand in order to give your checks or calls more credibility and make you less susceptible bluffs when you play weaker hands in the same way.

For instance, if KK is the only strong hand that you ever check on a K72 flop, then other players can exploit you by bluffing the turn and river. Even if they occasionally run into top set, you’ll fold far more often.

The lesson here is that you need to check hands good enough to call bets on the turn and river, but those don’t necessarily need to be the strongest hands in your range. The moderately strong hands discussed above are generally better candidates for a “balance check” than a set of 7’s. This is again because the price that you pay for putting AK in your flop checking range is much lower than the price that you pay for putting 77 in your flop checking range.

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