Slowplaying In Texas Holdem Poker Games

Slowplaying in Texas Holdem involves checking or calling with a strong hand to disguise it’s strength, with the intention of winning more cash on later betting rounds. This is often considered the opposite of bluffing. While this is one of the first ‘moves’ many Texas Holdem players learn, it is often executed badly or at inappropriate times – sometimes ending up as an expensive error. This article looks at the best times to slowplay and when just to bet out with your strong hands.

Checking before the flop with pairs of aces or kings is a standard play for many people. While this can induce action from players behind, it can also lead to the uncomfortable situation where 3 or 4 people see the flop. There is also a hidden danger in slowplaying your premium hands like this. Observant opponents will realize that when you raise before the flop, you do not have aces or kings. This can leave you vulnerable to being outplayed after the flop.

Remember that in lower limit games your raises will get called (or re-raised) often anyway, so there is rarely any need to limp with those monster hands. The best time to do this is when you know there are one or more very aggressive players at the table, you may even trap some ‘dead money’ from players who called the initial bet but can not call a bigger one.

Slowplaying a flopped monster – for example those times you flop trips – is another common time to make this move. Once again you need to balance your play somewhat, observant opponents wil quickly learn your tendencies if you always play the reverse to the true strength of your hand.

On the flop the number of opponents and your position make a big difference to the best strategy. If you have a hidden monster in a multi-way pot then betting can often be the better strategy – someone with an overpair or top-pair type hand will often call, building the pot for bigger bets on later streets. If you are checked to in last position a bet can also be better than a slowplay, since opponents will often expect the last person to act to take a stab at the pot.

The best time to slowplay the flop is against a single opponent on a board which does not support too many draws. A ‘dry’ flop makes it unlikely a single opponent will continue in the hand – while checking might give them a chance to catch up or even make a bluff on the turn. Sometimes that small turn bet is all you will win when an opponent genuinely has nothing. You should still be happy with your play, since you would not have won anything at all with the alternative play of betting out.

On a board which contains coordinated cards, making straights and flushes possible it is less attractive to check your monster hands. You need to charge draws, and might even get re-raised as a semi-bluff on occasion.

If you hit a huge hand then slowplaying is a must. For example, you have a K-10 in your hand and hit a flop of K-K-10. Since the chance of any opponent having a good enough hand to continue is slim, you might need to check both the flop and turn here, what you are hoping is that you give your opponents a chance to catch up – developing a hand which they are happy to bet with on the river.

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