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No Limit Holdem Strategy – When to Slow Play?

[ Posted May 18th, 2006 ] by admin

In the game of no-limit Texas Holdem, the strategy or approach known as “slow play” essentially refers to the practice some folks adopt of under-betting their hole cards. There is quite a bit of debate in the gambling world, among people whose opinions really matter when it comes to this kind of question, about exactly how advantageous it is to slow play, and when precisely this tactic should be implemented in any given game of no-limit  Texas Holdem.  We probably won’t be able to quell the debate right here and now. What we can do is take a look at some of the basics of the slow play philosophy, determine when this tactic might be in your interest, and how to guard against it.

As stated above, slow play in its most basic form is understood to mean the process of under-betting hands. Normally most slow playing is done post-flop, but you are likely to come across some players who will slow play pre-flop by limping in with something along the lines of an Ace/King or even two Aces. Getting nailed by someone who was slow playing pre-flop usually isn’t as costly as post-flop since it is easier to spot what they have.

Learn what to expect from your opponents

It’s often been observed that even many of the most formidable  poker players  out there are, at their core, creatures of habit. One way to avoid getting trapped by a strong slow play individual is to pay extra-close attention to their hands and how they play them. More often than not, if someone tried limping in with a pair of Aces or an Ace/King before, they’ll do it again. Learn a player’s go-to maneuvers, watch to see if he or she keeps going back to the same well. Just like a hunter observing the habits of a wild beast in the brush, the time you spend in this watchful mode is sure to reap serious benefits. Of course, not all slow play individuals do you the courtesy of performing the exact same way with each and every consecutive hand. Some of them are a whole lot more wily than that. These are the situations where you can end up losing a lot of chips if you overvalue the strength of your hand because you are convinced based upon earlier hands that your opponent is slow playing. If for example you bet the flop and someone calls, you have to wonder what the person is calling with. This is where keeping a mental hand history comes into play and can help you decide if you have the best hand or not.

Turning the tables on them

It should be noted that, although this was written primarily from the perspective of a player trying to fend off the advances of someone with a slow play approach, all the information contained herein works conversely if you happen to be the type of person who likes to slow play. Whichever side of the coin you fall on, it’s a good idea to keep these principles in mind.

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