When To Slow Play In Online Poker
In poker we all love the idea of pulling off a sneaky slow play when we have a huge hand in the hopes that our opponent will bluff off their entire stack to our cunningness. There are a few considerations for us to think about before we employ our slow plays and also an understanding of when we should or shouldn't do it.
When A Slow Play Is A Good Idea
Many new poker players love to slow play their hands but too often do it at all the wrong times. I'm going to guide you through some great spots to slow play your big hands to help you understand how to win at poker.
When the flop is very dry (unconnected) and your opponent is very aggressive
If you're facing a very aggressive player and the flop looks very safe then the chances are that he doesn't have much of a hand at all and so the best way to get him to put some money in the middle is to feign weakness by playing your hand slowly.
To an aggressive player this really is the red rag to a bull and they just can't help themselves, trying to get you to fold. Having an understanding of your opponents playing style is a key component to learning how to play poker for beginners.
Pre flop on the button with a squeezy player in the blinds
A squeezy player is again an aggressive opponent (you see a theme emerging here with the opponent types that are best to slow play against) who will squeeze raise when one player opens (raises) pre flop in mid position and a later position player just flat calls. The idea behind this play is that if the original raiser is opening with a wide enough range of hands, then as well as strong hands, he has lots of weaker holdings in this spot. If we then think about the second player who just flat called, he doesn't look to have a strong hand in this spot by his actions.
So taking all of this into consideration, the squeezy player can re raise pre flop (squeeze play) and pick up the pot a lot of the time which will be a very profitable play on his part.
Let us imagine for a moment that you're sitting in a 6 max, cash game and a player in mid position raises pre flop. You're sat on the button holding AA and your first instinct is to raise but then you realize that there is a squeezy player in the blinds who very often re raises pre flop when one player raises and another, in late position just flat calls.
Now if you flat call, you give him (the squeezy player) the option to re raise and then you can either continue to slow play your hand (by just flat calling his 3 bet) or you can re raise him yourself now (although you may get him to fold by doing this). How deep the stacks are may play a part in your decision making (the shallower they are, the more inlined you should be to flat call in this situation, continuing to slow play your hand).
When you have the board crushed
Sometimes in poker you will just totally crush the flop and it'll be very hard for your opponent to have much of a hand.
Many newer players just instantly look to bet and raise when they have a flop totally crushed with the slightly flawed logic that "if their opponent has a hand then they can stack them". If you have KQ and the flop comes down KQQ then the fact is that the most likely outcome of you making a check raise would be a turbo fold as you're opponent just can't have much of a hand at all here. This is another spot that lends itself well to a slow play.
When Slow Playing Is A Bad Idea
There are lots of situations when a slow play would be a really bad idea based on a few key factors.
When you opponent is very passive
Slow playing works really well against aggressive players because they are so capable of bluffing when they have missed and in Texas Holdem you miss the flop nearly 70% of the time. However when you're playing someone who's not so aggressive (passive) then when you try to play a hand slow, you will often just give them the chance to improve their hand for free as they often check back.
When the flop is very wet (connected)
Board texture is something that you want to take into consideration when you plan how to play your hand. If for example the flop comes down something like 8,9,J and you have a good top pair or better then this is a bad situation to slow play.
The reason the above board is so bad to slow play is because there are so many combinations of hands that can call (pairs, draws, combo hands like pair plus draws). This is the perfect situation to play your hand fast for maximum value.
Hopefully now you can start to understand the different considerations you should be thinking about before making a play (slow or fast) and not just base your actions on your hand strength. Aggressive players are the best targets to be aware of how your opponents have been playing up to this point.
Good luck at the tables.
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