Texas Holdem Slow-Playing

Slow-playing in holdem generally means playing weakly on one round of betting so as to attract people in for the later bets. Quite obvious, hands that are correct to slow-play do not come up so frequently. The following factor must be met for making a slow-play correct:

1. Your hand need to be very strong.

2. You will likely chase everyone out by betting, but you have a good chance of winning a pot if you check.

3. The free card that you are giving has better possibilities of making second-best hands.

4. This free card has some chance of making a better hand for someone or even of giving him a draw to a better hand with adequate odds to justify a call.

5. The pot need not to be much bigger.

The simple example of correct slow-play is to check a set of jacks when the flop comes

Notice that an over card on fourth street can easily give someone a second-best hand. However, with many rivals, someone would pick up a flush draw or an open-end straight draw on the turn and could then beat you on the end. Hence slow-playing may not be correct if the pot has become big (or if many bad players, who may call your bet with as little as one over card, are in the pot.)

If the situation is not perfect, then obviously slow-playing is almost never correct. Suppose if you hold

the flop comes

you should either bet or raise on the flop, as your rival can have many possible hands such as flush and straight draws.


You should generally not slow-play when you have flopped the absolute nuts. (Exception: When you have all the good cards; say you have A7 and the flop come A77.) This is because your rival may also have flopped a strong hand and might give you a lot of action. For instance, you should not slow-play the nut flush if there is a chance that someone else may have flopped a flush. If he is slow-playing, you will yourself cost more money.

Keep in mind for slow-playing to be correct, your rivals should have the opportunity to make a good second-best hand. For example, if you have two aces and a third ace flops, it is correct to bet and pick up the pot. Here, in this case there is no second-best hand for your rivals to make, but a miracle card can make you lose the pot. (A check would be right if you think it will attract a bluff.)

The same approach to slow-play is to just call someone else's bet so as to re-raise a raiser behind you or to go for a raise on fourth street when the bet is more than twice. For doing this, your hand need to be as strong as a regular slow-playing hand.

For example, when you flop two pair and the player on your immediate right bets into you. You wait until the turn to raise. That means you just call on the flop. This play is optimal if you believe that this player will bet again. However, should a third raiser raise behind you, yet it is better to re-raise on the flop and achieve extra bets from all your rivals.
Here's another example. You limp in with

and you are raised an aggressive player behind you, and a player in the blind calls. The flop is

and the player in the leads bets out. You should call with the purpose of raising him on fourth street. However, if the initial raiser raises behind you, you should go ahead and re-raise. This is true if your rival is one who raises with two over cards expecting to get a free card.

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