In poker, slow play is a specific style or tactic in the game, namely, the passive game of the owner of the nut – the strongest hand. The purpose of this technique is to force, so to speak, the opponent to bet as much money as possible and thereby increase the winning pot.
By and large, slow play is a kind of antipode to bluff. That is, situations when one of the participants in the table, bluffing, tries to squeeze, so to speak, an opponent out of the game and force him to fold while having a weak hand and behaving rather aggressively. The purpose of slow play is to engage the opponent.
It is clear that none of the tactics and none of the techniques can be introduced into your playing style on a permanent basis. Your actions should retain a certain amount of unpredictability, and therefore your behaviour at the poker table should be different depending on different circumstances.
As for the question of when and how the slow play technique is used, it is very important to take the behaviour and style of play of your opponents into account. Professionals believe that the best option for applying this tactic is to “duel” with the aggressive type of loose players – those who try to participate in every hand, even if their starting hand does not have a great chance of improving. Involving them in slow play will surely fill the pot of the game with a good amount of chips.
But in situations where your opponent can be called a tight player who participates in the trade only with a strong enough hand, you need to slow-play carefully and with great caution. Playing against a passive opponent can also be a good reason for slow play.
Experts say that slow play is the most useful and acceptable at the post-flop stage. However, experienced players use it even pre-flop but only with certain cards in hand, and there are very few options. Let’s say you can afford to slow play relatively freely with a pair of aces, but with pairs of kings or queens, it’s better to just raise. You should also take into account the fact that slowplaying pre-flop is only reasonable if your opponents are playing in a fairly aggressive style and are likely to raise.
It should be noted that today the slow play technique is widely used as a standard practice, even for beginners or non-professional poker players. And going back to the beginning of this section, don’t slowplay too much, otherwise, your opponents will quickly figure everything out, and this way to increase the pot and your nuts will become a lot less useful. So add standard play to your decisions by calling and betting with a strong hand.
One of the obvious disadvantages that you can expect when playing slow is that you give your opponent a simplified opportunity to get additional cards, and hence the chances of improving the starting hand by further streets during the game. This is not a risk or a reason to be careful only in those situations where your hand is for sure the strongest – let’s say four of a kind, full house or a high flush combination. Then you can feel a hundred perecent protected.
But if your opponent has one of the promising draw hands that allows them to make return bets, those very possible strengthening of the hand can drive you into your own slow-playing trap. This can become a serious difficulty on the way to winning. So in a way, slowplaying goes against one of the most important rules of poker – to protect your hand.
In any of the poker strategies, as well as in the process of making certain decisions, it would be very prudent to consider all possible scenarios. Slow play is no exception. And if there are several cards on the board that create a dangerous situation with a possible flush draw or straight draw for your opponent, you should think carefully about how to play. In this situation, you can only relax and not think about the risks if you have collected four of a kind or a full house.
Even with pocket kings, it is considered better to make a raise in order to assess the actions of opponents.
Post-flop, there’s usually a standard pattern of behaviour: the player who has collected the winning combination refuses any initiative, thereby demonstrating their uncertainty about the correctness of the decision to continue participating in the distribution. It would be easier for opponents to believe in deception if the player behaved aggressively pre-flop.
You need to be patient to wait for the bets because they will not necessarily be on every street. Such actions should be answered with a call without raising the bet. On the River, you need to change tactics by making a bet. This is because an opponent who has not collected the desired combination will no longer invest in the pot. A bet will help the player assess the situation and actions of the opponent.
If a poker lover suspects a fellow player of using slowplay against them, they begin to worry about the money. In such cases, the optimal solution for the player is to act calmly and mindfully without relying on emotions and feelings. And trust the proven and profitable tactics in poker completely. If the hand is average, it is wiser not to call slowplay-like bets. For a better understanding of the opponent’s style, the player can make trial bets that help to get more detailed information. Trial bets will help you learn about the strength of your opponent’s hands.
The basic principles of slow play are enough to use the technique against weak players in a game with low stakes successfully. For the actions to be profitable in confronting strong opponents, you should follow additional recommendations:
- Do not get carried away – situations suitable for passive play should be diluted with aggressive bets and raises.
- Don’t Slowplay Against Callers – Having a good hand, you need to bet big against opponents with low aggression and high pass to showdown.
- Take into account the history of the game with the opponent – one player may not be suitable for this technique by checking in position. Another opponent may have a high chance of getting a bluff in the form of a raise. In both situations, the rate will be more profitable.
- Analyze the hands played – you need to analyze hands after each session, this is the only way you can find errors.
- Take notes – recording notes on players allows you to adjust individually for each.
The slow play seems like a simple tactic, but few poker players can use it effectively. Only constant practise and study of strategy will allow you to make a passive game with a strong hand profitable and discreet.