Slow-play­ing courts un­nec­es­sary risk

Sun Sentinel Broward Edition - Showtime - Broward - - POKER - By Jonathan Lit­tle

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.

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