Slow playing a hand in texas hold’em poker is a very risky strategy; however, if successfully executed can yield a very large payoff. Slow playing a hand simply means betting and calling conservatively so that the maximum amount is extracted from the maximum number of opponents.
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The strategy of slow playing is very risky and should only be attempted when you are sure you will have the winning hand. Usually when you have the highest possible hand that can be made by the cards on the board is when best to use this tactic. It is very easy for an opponent to catch the cards needed to make his hand so the hand you choose to slow play with should be nearly unbeatable. Also you should know what could possibly beat you and make sure the necessary cards don’t show up on the board.
I think to illustrate the correct instances and situations to slow play in we will resort to examples.
- Example #1
Your starting hand is a pocket pair of aces. The flop is ace, nine, nine. Now this instance would be a good time to slow play. You have to realize that if someone was dealt the starting hand pocket nines then they have you beat, but short of that you have the highest hand strength at this point. Also the probability of someone having a pocket pair of nines as their starting hand is very low. Furthermore; the probability of someone having a stronger hand even after the turn and river are very very low. Your hand is a full house, aces full of nines. A hand with a very high hand strength. If the turn and river happened to go very badly say running nines (which would result in a split pot for everyone remaining in the hand), or even worse one nine on the turn or river could spell disaster is one of your opponents starting hand contained a nine. Now they would have four of a kind, nines. Short of those two highly unlikely events there isn’t much else that could beat your hand. This would be a very good situation to slow play.
- Example #2
Your starting hand is nine of spades and ten of spades. The flop is jack of spades, queen of spades, and king of spades. You have flopped a straight flush king high and if the ace of spades comes on the turn or river you have a royal flush. In this situation your hand is unbeatable. It is extremely rare to have a hand that is unbeatable especially after the flop. This is the perfect situation to slow play. You can not possibly lose the hand so every dollar you can extract is going straight into your chip stack.
- Example #3
Your starting hand is ace of spades, and king of spades. The flop is ace of diamonds, king of hearts, and 4 of spades. In a situation like this flopping the top two pair you may feel you have a dominating hand strength over your opponents. Though you may feel this is a good situation to slow play it is not. The reason is because there are quite a few hands that your opponents could have that would beat you if they where to play all the way to the river. For example if one of your opponents starting hand was pocket kings. This starting hand would have flopped a set of kings and would have a dominating hand strength. You would be playing right into his hand by working off the assumption that you have a dominating hand strength when he in fact has the dominating hand strength. Another starting hand that could have been dealt to an opponent is a pocket pair of aces. Again this starting hand would have flopped a set and have the dominating hand strength.
- Example #4
Your starting hand is ace of hearts, and 6 of hearts. The flop is 9 of hearts, ten of hearts, and queen of hearts. Now you have made your ace high flush on the flop; however, there are straight flush draws out there. If an opponent has an eight of hearts, jack of hearts, or king of hearts he has a straight flush draw. You can slow play in this instance as long as you realize that if one of the other straight flush cards come out you will need to make a feeler bet to see if your ahead in hand strength. The other possibility is that an opponent made a straight flush on the flop in which case you may be being slow played, and you will be playing into a starting hand that has now an unbeatable hand strength.
It is important to understand all of the possible starting hands that could have your hand beaten at the point you are at in the hand. Also you have to understand the starting hands that would continue to chase a hand given certain flops. This is critical to feeling out where your hand strength fits in the given hand. It is too easy to get tunnel vision when you get a great starting hand strength followed by the perfect flop. Your perfect flop may still have benefitted one of your opponents starting hand strength even more. You have to remain objective and continue to study your opponents moves to make sure your starting hand strength in addition to the given community cards is ahead in the hand.
So now lets examine the texas hold’em poker strategy of slow playing. You should now have a good idea of the situations when to do it and the situations when not to do it. So lets discuss how to do it successfully.
The basic concept of slow playing in no limit texas hold’em poker is simple yet its execution can be very tricky. The idea of slow playing is to bet an amount that your opponents will call, or to play your hand in such a way as to extract the maximum amount of money. In order to do this usually you want to represent a weak hand, or represent a starting hand that is playing for a draw so that your opponent will attempt to bet you out of the hand. If by betting the minimum amount will demonstrate weakness, or perhaps checking and then calling after some amount of time as if your thinking of weather you want to continue to chase. Demonstrating weakness or a starting hand that is on a draw will be a different play depending upon the table, your opponents, past behavior, and other factors such as these. Keep in mind the correct play is dependent on the situation, and often times in order to represent the same type of starting hand you may have to employ a variety of different methods in a variety of different and unique situations.
Keep in mind slow playing a hand in no limit texas hold’em poker is a very risky play to make, and can often result in your opponent making his starting hand into the winning hand if not done correctly. Also slow playing in texas hold’em poker should be done extremely rarely as the conditions for it will only occur when a variety of variables are in place. If used appropriately the strategy of slow play in no limit texas hold’em poker can be one of your most profitable and effective tactics. Use it sparingly and use it well.