Slow playing is the act of limping in a pot with a premium hand such as pocket aces to incite your opponent to raise with a weaker hand. Slow playing is not meant for the beginner because there are a lot of factors to consider that if are not taken into account can end up costing you a lot of money.
Let’s Use An Example To Illustrate
You are sitting in the small blind at a 6-player table and you are dealt A? A?
- Blinds – Level 2 – $50/$100
- Player 1-Fold
- Player 2 Call
- Player 3 Call
- Player 4-Fold
- Player 5 (You)?
You are now faced with the crucial decision; should you call and feign weakness or raise?
If you raise you are running the risk of having every player fold and only picking up a $350 pot which is perfectly fine, but you want to extract as much from your opponents as you can.
If you limp in and complete the big blind now you run the risk of being out flopped by a set, or a possible flush draw.
You call and the big blind checks behind you.
The flop comes
9? K? Q?
You are first to act what do you do? At this point slow playing is not an option, there are two clubs out there and it is very possible that one of your opponents picked up a flush draw. You need to weed out any flush draws and hope that one of your opponents paired his K.
In a situation like this you need to make a substantial bet to knock your opponent’s off their hands. A bet of $800 would be appropriate here. By over betting the pot you are not giving your drawing opponents the right odds to call, but you are inviting the player that hit his K to re-raise all-in at which point you push your chips in the middle and take down a monster pot.
Let’s imagine a different scenario in which you check on the river.
- Player 5 (You) Check
- Player 6 (BB) Bet 200
- Player 2 Call
- Player 3-Fold
You decide to slow play your aces and call.
The turn comes 8?
The board is now:
9? K? Q? 8?
Now there are 2 possible flush draws on the board but you don’t put either player on a spade draw because they wouldn’t have called the 200 on the flop.
- Player 5 (You) Bet 400. A value bet to increase the pot size.
- Player 6 (BB) Call
- Player 2 Call
- The river comes 3?
That is a nightmare card because it means your opponents could have made their flush. Still, you decide to salvage your hand by representing the A?
- Player 5 (You) Bet 2000
- Player 6 (BB) Fold
- Player 2 Re-raise all-in for $2300 more.
You’ve just been caught and there is no way you can call the re-raise and you are forced to lay your hand down. You have effectively just lost almost 50% of your chip stack instead of picking up the pot on the flop or the turn.
When you slow play a big hand you need to make a decision based on your position at the table, the flop, how many players are involved in the hand, what type of player are you up against? All these factors will determine how you should play this hand. The most crucial component of slow playing a hand is knowing when to fold. If you can’t force to lay down AA when you know you’re beat you will never make it as a poker player.