Online poker is a game that ebbs and flows. You can go round after round with strong hands and pot wins; however, this fortune can be flipped with poor hands for hours on end. This is especially true during online poker tournaments, where games can last several hours. Patience, timing and maximizing your chances create the recipe for success.
When you play poker online, to maintain your engagement and motivation, it’s important to remind yourself that winning each round or receiving strong hands consistently is out of the question. Sadly, the idea of competing in every round is unrealistic, and sometimes, folding a hand can be the smartest move you make.
How you play when holding a strong hand can make all the difference to your winnings. Do it wrong and you end up taking the blinds. But do it right and you’re grabbing the largest pot of the game. We discuss when you should slow-play a strong hand.
The art of slow-playing
Used extensively by professional players in Texas hold’em games and other poker variations, slow-playing is the act of checking or calling an opponent’s bet when holding a strong hand. The aim is to build the pot, stay under the radar and ensure as many players are involved in the round as possible. After all, the more active players, the bigger the pot.
Playing online poker for real money means you come up against many cautious players; the type of opponent who would fold instantly at the thought of someone having stronger cards. Slow playing is a great way to stay in the round without making it obvious that you have strong cards. Deceiving your opponents is a large part of the game. Once they get a gist of your cards, they will fold straight away, resulting in a small pot.
The main priority of slow playing is maximizing your potential returns while staying out of the limelight. For example, if the dealer places down an ace of hearts, ten of hearts and seven of hearts, and you bet big after the flop, everyone will automatically assume that you have the flush, causing most to fold before the turn.
Being subtle and not giving anything away is a big part of poker. Experienced players constantly monitor opponents’ playing personalities and betting styles on certain hand ranges. Once they get a good understanding of how you play, the rest of your time at the felt can be long and tedious.
The dos and don’ts of slow playing
Just like any strategy, there are times to implement and moments to hold back. Knowing when to pull the trigger is what separates the good from the great.
When deciding to slow-play, there are certain instances that should influence this decision. Firstly, a fantastic indicator is playing on a dry board. This is when the community cards don’t present many possibilities for other hands. For instance, if the dealer places two of clubs, seven of hearts and king of spades, there is no scope for a straight, flush, full house and so on. So, when you’re holding a strong hand and notice the board to be dry, it’s your moment to slow-play, entice players to see the turn and maximize the pot.
Another chance to slow-play is when you’re holding the nut hand. This is known as the round’s unbeatable hand, meaning you cannot lose the round. When you’re in this situation, it’s vital not to scare off opponents and make sure that they see the turn in the hopes of growing their investment in the round. Remember, the players around you may have good hands, but you have the nut hand.
Loose opponents – players who tend to bet and raise a lot – present the perfect opportunity for slow play. You can often let them do the betting for you and call them, as they tend to get excited and overbet when holding low-ranking hands like a double pair.
It’s crucial that you don’t slow-play on a wet board. This is when the community cards allow for many hands, such as a flush, straight and full house. When this occurs, it’s anyone’s round. Knowing when to fold while holding strong hands is a great poker skill to learn and can save you a lot of chips.
In poker online games, understanding your opponents is some of the best information you can gather. If you realize there are a few tight opponents active in the round, it’s a good idea to back off. They mostly bet when holding strong cards, so unless you have the nut hand, be cautious. Furthermore, if there are plenty of opponents still involved after the turn, it’s another indicator that a few players have strong cards, too, so slow playing may not be an option.
Test your poker skills on BetMGM
Now that you know what slow playing is, why not put your new-found knowledge to the test? From Texas Hold’em and Omaha to 7-card stud, we have an array of poker games happening 24/7 worldwide. This accessibility, coupled with a huge variety and buy-ins, is why BetMGM is regarded as one of the best online poker sites.