Slow-playing courts unnecessary risk
You’re taking a big risk when you slow-play a strong poker hand. Sure, you might keep opponents around long enough to extract a bit more money from them, but sometimes you’re also giving them a chance to improve. I was recently told about a hand in which the slow-play strategy proved costly.
In a $1-$2 cash game, a player with an effective stack of $200 raised to $7 from early position, and our Hero called on the button with 3h 3d.
I like Hero’s call with a small pair. If he flops a set, he’ll have the best hand essentially every time, and when he misses, he can easily fold to a bet. It’s also Hero’s hand: nice that the initial raiser is in early position, meaning that he probably has a strong hand, so Hero will probably be paid off handsomely if he makes a set.
The big blind called as well, and three players saw a flop of Ks Qs 3c, which gave Hero bottom set.
The big blind checked, and the initial raiser bet $10 into a pot of $22. Hero decided to just call.
Hero told me that he wanted to trap the bettor as Opponent’s hand: well as the player in the big blind. While calling certainly increases the chance of trapping someone, it also allows both opponents to cheaply see the turn, which is not ideal when there are many draws available.
In this spot, it’s somewhat likely that one of Hero’s opponents has some sort of draw that would be priced out by a raise. And if one of the opponents happens to have a strong made hand such as A-K or K-Q, Hero Flop: would be best off getting his money in the pot immediately, before the turn brings a scary card that forces the opponent to play cautiously.
The big blind called as well. The turn was the 9d.
Both opponents checked to Hero, who bet $40 into a pot of $52. The big blind check-raised all in for $143 more. The initial raiser folded.
At this point, Hero is almost certainly up against either a premium made Turn: hand or a draw. While I do not think Hero can fold (because he beats K-Q, K-9, Q-9 and the draws), he certainly can’t love this situation, because he could easily be up against a straight. But even if he is, Hero has10 outs to improve to a full house.
Hero thought for a while before calling. His opponent was holding Jc 10h for a straight, and Hero lost when the river did not pair the board. The initial raiser claimed he folded A-K.
On the flop, if Hero had simply raised (as he should do with his best made hands and draws in almost all situations), he would have played a big pot as a huge favorite against A-K. Instead, he allowed the big blind to see a cheap turn card with his marginal draw, resulting in Hero losing his entire stack.