Texas Hold’em Tips: Slow Playing

There’s nothing that raises the pulse more than setting a trap in poker. A successful trap takes cunning, skill and turtlepatience. It’s a game of psychology. Stalling, checking, raising, playing cards others wouldn’t expect you to play. It’s all about sending signals to the other players that you’re holding the weaker hands, and then making them guess wrong. The end result is that your opponent bets into your winning hand and the pot gets fatter.

In Hold’em, trapping is more commonly known as slow-playing, and its main purpose is to keep your opponents off balance.

The first thing to know about slow-playing is being disciplined enough not to use it. To be successful, it’s important to pick and choose your spots. For example, if you’re holding a great pocket pair of aces or kings, you want to take advantage of the situation and make those monster cards pay off.

When holding a monster hand you do not want every player to fold before the flop, therefore occasionally slow-play good hands early to see if you can lure in a few extra opponents. This also provides some added deception to your hand allowing you to camouflage a powerful hand once the betting begins. In the early position, you should check-raise after the flop. Bet or raise from the late position.

What you’re trying to accomplish in slow-playing a great hand is allowing your opponents to put together a hand that is good, but not good enough. Conversely, in breaking down your opponents, it’s critical to figure out which ones slow-play high pairs early, and which ones never do—and when you’re defining high pairs, think aces or kings. Slow-playing with queens or below can be dangerous, with a 41% chance of an over card hitting on the flop.

Remember, in poker, good cards help, but image can be everything. Slow-playing helps cultivate that image. If other players view you as tight (playing few hands), you will likely thin or fold the field with your bets. If you’re viewed as loose (playing several hands), then you can bet and raise before the flop and still find some willing participants who want in on the action.

And if you get the chance to trap your opponent, don’t hesitate. That is where you will reel in the most money during a game. And if you “scare” the table with your trap just one time, every player will remember your move for the remainder of the game.