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I was looking through some hand histories and recognised a few situations where I might improve my decisions regarding slowplaying hands.

Generally, understanding that slowplaying is often worse than just building a pot with a strong hand, and multitabling, thus having less time to be selective about the spots I choose to play unconvetionally, i'm certain I could improve my win-rate by paying more attention to these spots. But, what to pay attention to?

For example; Assuming players are TAGs, standard regulars in the game

NL Holdem - 6 players

BTN: 250 bb
Hero (SB): 100 bb
BB: 100 bb
UTG: 150 bb
MP: 180 bb
CO: 230 bb

Hero posts SB 0.5 bb, BB posts 1 bb

Pre Flop: (pot: 1.5 bb) Hero has 3:diamonds: 3:hearts:

fold, fold, fold, BTN raises to 3 bb, Hero calls 2.5 bb, BB calls 2 bb

Flop: (9bb, 3 players) 8:hearts: 3:spades: T:clubs:
Hero checks, BB checks, BTN bets 4.5 bb, Hero ???

What would be the "Pros and Cons" of slowplaying in a spot like this? If the opponents are different how does that affect the frequency that we slowplay?

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I'm almost always prefer to call instead of rasing in this position because of the expecting SB called also. This play almost always more profitible. In Theory of Poker, David Sklansky also analyze this kind of situation and he tell calling is almost always right choice.. –  Soner Gönül Jan 7 '13 at 12:17
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5 Answers 5

Ask yourself what Btn is likely to have for his pre-flop raise and continuation bet, and if you just call what are the chances he will bet again on the turn. Check raising here just screams that you have hit your hand (set or two pair) so you're unlikely to get further action. If you want to check raise, much better to at least give him another chance to bet on the turn.

What are the chances that he's :-

a) already way ahead and you're drawing to one card (10 10 or 8 8)

b) behind but with some chance of outdrawing you (J 9 or 9 7 - is he aggressive enough to raise pre-flop from the button with this?) Even if he does make his straight on the turn, you still have 10 outs on the river to make a full house.

c) well behind and unlikely to outdraw you, but likely to bet again if he hits his draw (e.g. A 10) - this is your ideal scenario and most likely to produce a big pot.

d) got two pairs (e.g. 10 8) - can you avoid going broke in the unlikely event of the board pairing the right way (for him) on the turn / river.

e) got an over pair, again unlikely to outdraw you, but hard to spot when he does. What's your reaction going to be if an over card comes on the turn and he bets again?

f) two over cards (e.g. A K) - how much further action do you expect even if he hits his hand on the turn / river?

g) runner runner flush draw. How will you react if the turn matches one of the existing suits and he bets again.

g) any other hand - what range of hands will he raise from the button and continuation bet (any two cards?) Is he likely to keep bluffing with nothing?

I would say that on this particular flop, you're unlikely to be losing (unless you're already a mile behind), so much better to give Btn another chance to hang himself rather than scaring him off.

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This can depend on many things such as the following:

  1. Hand Strength
  2. Table Position
  3. Your table image
  4. Your opponents

Hand Strength

Its always a bad idea to slow play your strong hands such as AA and KK. The more you slow play these hands, the more likely you are too allow other people to catch up with your hand.

Table Position

It can be a good idea to slow play a little from early position post flop. This will help you gain a bit more knowledge of who thinks they are strong. If you see a raise and 3 - bet chances are at least one has a hand so you should be very wary of them. Again this will all be down to hand strength.

Table Image

If you have a tight image sometimes its worth slow playing pre flop to disguise the strength of your hand a little. If people know you have only played 20% of your hands for an hour and all of a sudden you throw out a massive raise they are likely to fold and you lose any value you could have had from them.

Your Opponents

If your opponents are all tight then you probably need to slow play just to get any action out of them but if you do get action they probably have a big hand too.

If you are playing against aggressive players. The good old check raise is a good way of extracting a lot of value out of them, but again you need to be careful, because they have such a wide range of hands they could be playing any two cards that they have hit 2 pair with cards you wouldnt dream of playing.

Based on your example I would say that you should probably let someone else take the betting initiative. Its quite likely that you are head at his point. You may be up against A10, K 10, Q 10, J 10 type of hands and they will be thinking they have a good hand due to strong kickers. Plus just in case something does go a little wrong, like two suited cards come out, or the board pairs higher than your trips you can get away from the hand relatively cheaply.

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One of the cases you can use a slow play of the monster hand is following:

  • The late stage of turbo MTT
  • The stacks are short (usually M5-M15, or even less)
  • Stealing blinds is the most often action in the table
  • After raising you will be reraised-allin only by the monster. Opponents will fold the hands of the middle/boundary strength
  • You want to get action from the middle hands

Limping with the strong hand is a good way. In most cases you will have some action from the opponents trying to steal your limp. Works nice on micro/low limits.

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If your bets are getting "too much respect" (everyone folds when you bet), then you might want to slow play good hands (especially AK or AQ suited) to suck people in.

The other solution is to "fast play" weaker hands than you normally do (middle and low pairs). If people fold to your bets, bet more.

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In this particular hand, with bottom set and two cards to a straight, I'd play it as quickly as I could. You must make it mathematically unsound for jack-queen suited (in one of those suits) to stick around. This is a great opportunity to let someone with an overpair or top pair make an expensive call, and you should always take advantage of it.

If you do slowplay it, you run the risk of letting opponents make correct calls. I'd be quite satisfied to stack the 14 bb every time.

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