Anyone who’s played Texas Hold’em for a while will tell you the same: it isn’t easy to make a really big hand and it is even harder to get some value out of it when you do. You could spend a whole night waiting for your perfectly disguised flopped straight but what good will it do if everyone folds on the flop and you get no value from it?
So, in order not to “lose customers” and get some value from what they perceive as a monster hand, players often resort to a slow playing strategy. Like the name suggests, this is the approach where you play your hand fairly passively in hopes of trapping your opponents or letting them catch up enough to part with some of their cash.
Slow playing is a legitimate strategy in Hold’em and it definitely has its place in your overall game-plan but you should be aware of some do’s and don’ts in order to make the most out of it.
Not all “monsters” are really monsters
The first thing to keep in mind is that not all big hands (relatively speaking) are truly monster hands that merit playing them slow, especially in multi-way pots. For example, if you have trip 3s on a board of Q33 and there are multiple people in the pot, this isn’t the time to slow play.
Most players will give you action with a Queen or even a pocket pair higher than 3s here so there is really little reason to play your hand slow. First of all, you’re missing out on building a big pot by doing so. Secondly, your hand can easily go from hero to zero if another Queen hits the felt.
Slow playing your monsters on draw-heavy boards
A good spot to slow play a big hand is on draw-heavy boards. For example, if you have pocket 10s and the flop comes 10 8 8 two hearts, you have a really strong hand that is highly unlikely to lose by the river. At the same time, other players can have all sorts of draws here and you want to let them catch up. Even if they make their straights and flushes, according to Texas Hold’em poker rules your full house still wins, so there is nothing to fear.
If there is action in this kind of situation, you can proceed playing it passively by just calling and let others do your bidding. Inexperienced players might even be enticed to hang around because of all the extra money you’re putting in, completely oblivious of the fact that on the paired board, their “strong” draw could easily be dead in the water.
Don’t get cute on wet boards
If we take the same situation from the above example but with a slightly different texture on the flop, reading 10 8 5, two hearts, everything changes. On the flop, you are certain you have the best hand and, as a general rule of thumb, you want to pump in as much money as you can while you know you’re ahead.
On this type of board, especially in a multi-way pot, people can have all sorts of draws and every single one of them will outrun you if they get there. So, this isn’t the time to get cute and play your monster hand passively. Instead, you should be betting big and raising if you get the chance to chart the other players the maximum for drawing.
The added benefit of this approach is that you’ll be able to build a huge pot if one or two of them decide to stick around against the odds so if there is a safe card on the turn, you can make a huge bet to price them out or pay a dear price to see the last card. In the latter scenario, even if they call and make their hand, you shouldn’t worry because you played it right and they made a mistake so just chuck it to variance and move on to the next hand.
Check out the other articles in this poker strategy series here:
– Part 1 of our Poker Strategy Tip Series: Poker Tip #1 | Playing Suited Connectors
– Part 2 of our Poker Strategy Tip Series: Poker Tip #2 | Check Raising Strategy
– Part 4 of our Poker Strategy Tip Series: Poker Tip #4 | Blockers and How to Use Them
– Part 5 of our Poker Strategy Tip Series: Poker Tip #5 | Limp Pots – When and Why
– Part 6 of our Poker Strategy Tip Series: Poker Tip #6 | Squeeze Play – Top Things to Consider
– Part 7 of our Poker Strategy Tip Series: Poker Tip #7 | Adjusting Versus Different Opponents