Poker Terms – Slow Playing

Poker Terms - Slow Playing

Slow playing is a poker term that refers to the opposite of bluffing: betting weakly or passively with a strong holding rather than betting aggressively with a weak one. In this article we will outline the ideal conditions for slow playing:

You must have a very strong hand.

The free card you are allowing other players to get must have good possibilities of making them a second best hand and must have little chance of making someone a better hand than yours or even giving that person a draw to a better hand than yours on the next round with sufficient odds to justify a call.

You must be sure you will drive other players out by showing aggression, but you have a good chance of winning a big pot if you don’t.

The pot must not yet be very large.

Suppose that you flop the nuts and the pot is currently $100. When you value bet, you decide that you are going to bet about 80% of pot. First, though, you have a decision about whether to bet three streets or to check the flop and then bet the turn and river.

If your flop bet of $80 is called, there will be $260 in the pot on the turn. Eighty percent of $260 is about $210, which if called will mean a $670 pot on the river. Thus your river bet would be $536, and if your opponent called, you would win a total of $826 after flopping a monster.

If you instead check the flop, then you only win the first two bets of $80 and $210. Slow playing would have to triple your chances of getting those first two bets paid off to justify your failure to build the pot from the flop.

Example

You are playing $5/$10 NLHE with $1,000 stacks. You open to $45 UTG+1 with 77, a loose-passive player calls in the SB, and everyone else folds. The flop comes K 7 2.

If your opponent holds a pocket pair higher than your 7’s, he has a 4% chance of turning a hand better than yours. Otherwise, there is no way for the turn card to cost you the pot. Even if your opponent turns a draw, you can size your turn bet such that he will not have the correct odds to call you.

Despite the near-invulnerability of your hand, you should bet. There is an obvious second-best hand for your opponent to pay you off with: a pair of Kings. You want to start building the pot right away so that you can win a big one from a pair of Kings, even if this means you win a little less from a hand like QJ that might turn a pair if you slow play.

Suppose that this player will never bet himself but will also not fold a pair for bets of up to 80% of pot. As we saw above, fast-playing your set will win you $826 if your opponent paired the flop. Checking the flop and then betting the turn and river will win you $290 when your opponent has a pair on the turn.

Two unpaired hole cards will turn a pair about 12% of the time. Thus, if your opponent does not yet have a pair, there is a 12% chance that you will win $290 by checking the flop, which makes checking worth $34.80.

When your opponent has a pair, slow playing the flop costs you $536. Thus, he needs to hold a pair on the flop just 16% of the time to make fast-playing superior to slow playing. Get all the latest Betting and Poker updates on your social media outlets. Find us on Facebook!

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