The Dangers of Slowplaying in Online Poker
Written by Haunted Poker for exclusive
The purpose of slowplaying in poker is to allow your
opponent(s) to catch up to your holding in order to bet
for value on future betting rounds. Many players who hit
two pair or better on the flop donít want to scare off
their opponents with a bet or raise, so they just check
and/or call to disguise the strength of their hand.
Theyíre hoping that their opponent will either try to
bluff on the turn, or will make the second-best hand.
Slowplaying runs rampant online, and it probably stems
from beginner players watching the pros do it in
televised tournaments. Unfortunately, most beginner
players donít realize that the pros do it for calculated
reasons. They know their opponents, study them, and
understand that most other professionals donít play
garbage cards and trash draws very often.
Online poker becomes looser and wilder every day with
more and more inexperienced players joining the action.
On many flops, 5 or 6 players are still in the action.
Of those 5 or 6 players, youíre just about as likely to
run into 9-4 offsuit as A-K. To begin to understand the
dangers of slowplaying online, you need to realize that
many online players will call the minimum bet with any
two cards. Even if you have a premium hand and raise it
strongly from early position, youíre likely to get 1 or
2 callers with garbage cards hoping to get lucky.
Most of the time, you donít want to slowplay online.
Of course, there are special circumstances where you
should slowplay, but weíll get into those later.
Firstly, letís explain when and why you shouldnít
slowplay a hand.
Letís suppose that youíre in a no-limit cash game and
just call the minimum bet with your pocket 10h-10d from
middle position. There are 2 callers behind you, and the
big blind checks it to the flop, which shows 10c-9c-2d.
Youíve just hit the nut hand at this point Ė a set of
tens! The big blind checks, and you also just check
hoping to trap your opponents. Unfortunately, both
players behind you check as well. The turn comes with a
Kc. This time, the big blind checks and you bet about
the size of the pot. One player behind you doubles your
bet and everyone else folds back around to you. You call
the bet, and see a river of 6h. You make a small bet,
and your opponent triples it. You think for a while
before your finally call. Your opponent shows down 7c-5c
for a flush.
This was a real hand that I watched play out online this
past week. What were the mistakes that the player with
set of tens made in the hand? On the flop, there were 2
clubs and 2 connecting cards, making both a straight and
a flush draw possible. There were also 4 players in the
hand, making it more likely that at least one of them
had the draw. Finally, since the hand wasnít raised
preflop, the big blind and the late position limpers
could hold anything.
If you hit a big hand on the flop with two suited or
connecting cards, you must bet out! This is especially
true online, where players will often play any possible
draw. You will routinely see opponents at all limits
play garbage like 7-5, Q-2, or even 7-2 occasionally. If
you see a flush draw, be even more wary since weak
opponents love to play any two suited cards. The danger
becomes even greater with more than one or two opponents
in the hand. Why should you let them have a free card?
If they want to draw out on you, make them pay! You
should bet at least the size of the pot in this
Many players hesitate to bet with two pair or a set
because they donít want to scare off their opponents.
You shouldnít have this mentality if you donít want to
run into bad beats. If you take the pot on the flop,
itís still a win. Itís always better to pick up that
small pot than lose a big one when your opponent hits
his draw and is finally willing to play with you. Again,
if youíre up against more than 2 opponents, the pot
wasnít raised, and you see two suited or connected cards
on the flop, bells should be going off in your head. Bet
out or raise to make your opponents go against the odds
to call you. Sometimes heíll call and still hit, but at
least you made it a statistical mistake for him to do
it. In the long run, youíll profit substantially from
your opponentís weak draws.
Hands like top pair, two pair, a set, or the low end of
a straight are very vulnerable and should be played for
value immediately. On the other hand, when you hit a
real monster, you have to slowplay it. The
reasoning is simple: when you hit top full house, the
nut flush, quads, or the nut straight, there isnít much
that your opponent could have at this point. You donít
mind giving a free card in this situation because you
want them to make a hand. When you hit a full house
on the flop, itís highly unlikely that your opponent
will draw to anything better. Check it down and let him
draw to that flush. When he hits it, youíre in a great
position to take the rest of his stack, especially if
itís an Ace-high flush!
Remember, online players tend to play worse starting
hands and are more willing to draw. When you hit a
strong hand, look for potential draws on the board that
could beat you with an extra card. If you see 2 suited
cards and/or 2 connectors, donít slowplay your hand.
Make it expensive for your opponents to see that extra
card. Donít get greedy and be satisfied with a small
pot. On the other hand, when you hit a great hand like
top full house or the nut flush, you should slow down
and let your opponents catch up. Weíll haunt you at the
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