Slow Playing Sparingly
Once poker players have been playing for a while and have moved past the general rule of betting whenever they see face cards, slow playing seems to become a popular technique used for dealing with strong and medium-strength hands.
At first glance, slow playing does seem an effective way of trapping opponents and interfering with their attempt to read your betting style. However, considering the large number of risks associated with it, slow playing is widely overused. Players are often blind to these risks, only seeing the dollar signs behind their seemingly unbeatable hand.
Simply stated, the longer you put off betting the pot, the longer your opponents have to catch cards. Suddenly, your three of a kind that was once obviously the strongest hand on the board is up against a possible straight. You are forced to check to your opponent, who is likely to realize the mistake you made and bet high, regardless of whether he or she actually has the straight.
Even if you end up winning the hand, you would have probably won more money by playing straightforwardly, with medium-sized bets to draw in some players. Believe it or not, players have a harder time reading someone who bets outright than someone who constantly slow plays. Increased readability is directly associated with the next major risk of slow playing.
After you overuse slow playing for a while, you will not be able to bet without causing a majority of the other players to fold. While this may seem advantageous for a short period of time, you will certainly not win as much money as you would if players with weak hands stayed in the pot a little bit longer. Inevitably, you will eventually lose a hand and your opponents will suddenly become much more confident in betting against you. By simply overusing slow playing, you have cut your profits in the long run and destroyed any hopes of bluffing.
The level of risk associated with slow playing is directly related to the number of people in the hand. While you can potentially make the most amount of money by slow playing when there are is relatively large number of people in the hand, your chances of having the best hand are much lower. Consequently, it is more likely that a player who caught the right card may trap you later in the hand. One such mistake while slow playing immediately makes you readable to even mediocre poker players, and easier to play against.
The fact that all of these risks exist does not mean that you should completely remove slow playing from your arsenal of betting methods. Healthy amounts of slow playing can reap some serious money and should always be incorporated into a game of poker. Rather than arbitrarily choosing a good hand to slow play, your best bet is to wait until you have one of your strongest hands of the game. The stronger your hand, the more confidently you can slow play. Your chances of being trapped later in the hand are greatly decreased, and you will likely have a number of outs late in the hand if you are faced with a trap. As long as you are aware of the hazards of slow playing, the technique can be very beneficial, when used sparingly.