Slow playing has often been misinterpreted to mean players taking their sweet time thinking and rethinking their decisions before finally playing their cards. Let’s correct that notion, shall we?
Preflop slowplaying is really an attempt to mess with the mind of your opponent. When a player slow plays, it means that the player is calling a bet with a great hand, or checking and acting unsure in order to mask the potency of the hand that he or she has. By doing this, the player makes his opponent stake more money into an already lost pot because he is certain he has the stronger hand. Slowplaying is generally a great strategy to use against bluffers.
Quite similar to “sandbagging”, slowplaying is a great ploy in games where the stakes are really high. This type of deceptive play, done correctly, can result in big wins. However, slowplaying is a tactical move, and can easily be wrongly executed. To avoid this, here are some situations where you should try slow play and cases where you shouldn’t.
Strategies to Using a Preflop Slowplay
When you have four of a kind or even better
It is a well-known strategy to never be in a hurry to play your best cards. You should definitely slowplay with special hands like:
- A straight flush
- A royal flush
With cards like these, you do not have to worry about making up your opponents draw, or hurting your hand. You only get to flop such cards once every few thousand times, so it is quite obvious that you shouldn’t be playing them in a hurry. The fact is, if you have one of these hands, the game is yours to win, so you want to be maximize how many chips you can extract from an opponent.
When you are up against an aggressive but loose player
These players usually place the odds in your hands without knowing it. They often build a pot on the flop, so it is best to slowplay with players like this. However, with some loose players, you should play your strong hands, letting your opponent raise before you. Seeing as slowplaying is sort of like setting a trap, you should use it against players who are liable to fall into it. Aggressive but loose players will often fall prey to this move.
However, it is a greater risk to slowplay with multiple opponents, because there’s always a chance that someone in the fray has a better hand than yours, and will use it against you if you delay in raising the flop. With multiple players come more turns and more chances of improving an opponent’s hand. In cases like this, it is better to bet your good hand and not slowplay.
The preflop slowplay, like every other poker strategy, is only a guide to help you play better. It does not guarantee you a win, but they work if used right. More importantly, trusting a mix of your instincts and analytical strategy is still the best way to win, no matter the game.