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.
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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