What Is Slow Playing in Poker? Learn How to Use this Strategy Effectively!

What is slow playing in poker? This poker term is a valuable and profitable strategy we will explain in this article—IF used at the correct times. You don’t just want to know what is slow playing in poker; you want to know when it is useful.

The concept is somewhat simple. Slow playing in poker involves deliberately underplaying a strong hand to lure, deceive, or confuse your opponent(s).

In other words, it means acting like you have a bad hand when you have a good hand.

Levelling in Poker

What Is Slow Playing in Poker? Levelling
Poker is a mind sport—you have to be able to outthink your opponent. A relevant concept is levelling.

Here are examples of ‘levels’ of poker:

・ Level 1: What hand I have
・ Level 2: What hand you think I have.
・ Level 3: What hand I think that you think I have…
…and so on.

You can play this game infinitely and reverse-reverse-reverse your opponent. Instead, aim to play just one step above your opponent, one level ahead.

One way to manipulate your competition is by slow playing a poker hand.

At its core, slow playing aims to manipulate opponents into making mistakes. By presenting a weak front, you can entice others to overcommit, unaware of the strength of your hand.

How to Slow Play Properly
Slow playing in poker is best executed when you have a legitimate stranglehold on a hand. Do not try to slow play top pair on the flop—you can easily come off second best by the river.

What Is Slow Playing in Poker? How to Slow Play
DO SLOW PLAY a hand like pocket sevens on a poker board 7-3-3.

It is extremely unlikely you’ll get outdrawn. So, there is little risk in checking and giving your opponent a ‘free card.’ If your opponent has a hand containing an Ace, maybe they think they can “catch up” if the next card is an Ace, even though they will still lose to your full house.

DON’T SLOW PLAY a hand like top pair that is vulnerable to getting outdrawn.
Let’s say you have A-8, and the flop is 8-4-2 with a flush draw. DO NOT SLOW PLAY HERE! You want to bet for both value and protection.

You want to charge people to hit a pair higher than your eight or a flush.

Don’t get in the habit of making the cardinal sin of allowing your opponent free cards. It will inevitably come back to bite you.

The Dangers of Slow Playing

What Is Slow Playing in Poker? Dangers of Slow Playing
As tempting as it can be to get sneaky and slow play your opponent, it is NOT always the best strategy. The best strategy will be what extracts the most value—aka makes the most money.

Don’t ask if it’s a profitable way to play the hand when you slow play in poker. Ask what the most profitable way to play the hand is.

For example, let’s say you have Ace-King.

The flop: A-8-9

Maybe you check here and slow play your Ace-King to get tricky.

The turn: A-8-9-3

Your opponent checks. Now you bet $20. They call.

The river: A-8-9-3-2

What Is Slow Playing in Poker? Slow Play Board
Conclusion: Your opponent checks. Now you bet $50. They call. Their Ace-Jack loses to your Ace-King.

Yes, you won the preflop bets plus the additional $70 from your opponent on the turn and river.

But imagine this:

The flop: A-8-9

Your opponent checks. You bet $20. They call.

The turn: A-8-9-3

You bet $50. They call.

The river: A-8-9-3-2

You bet $100. Your opponent calls. Their Ace-Jack poker combo still loses to your Ace-King, but you more than doubled your winnings by building the pot from the flop rather than waiting for the turn.

Your AK was going to defeat their AJ regardless. The skill isn’t flopping the best hand but extracting the most value.

Both betting and checking will show a profit here, but betting will reflect a much LARGER profit.

Since you won’t win every hand you play, you need to make sure you are making the maximum when you have a winning hand!

Mixing Between Fast and Slow Playing in Poker
Poker is an incredibly dynamic game where you need to be able to make adaptations on the fly.

What Is Slow Playing in Poker? Mixing Fast and Slow Play
Let’s say you raise pocket nines, and two people call. The flop is A-Q-9.

Your first instinct may be to play it fast and bet. But out of the corner of your eye, you see your opponent excitedly reaching for chips. This spot might be a good to slow play temporarily and check.

Sure enough, they bet. The other player calls.

NOW is when you switch from slow play to what we call fast play in poker lingo!
You can check-raise (or, if stack sizes permit, even go all-in).

You slow played first to make it look like your hand was weak and lure your opponents into putting in their chips. But now that they’ve both clearly connected and committed, you can awaken the sleeping tiger and jam your money into the middle.

This STEP is the next level in creating a truly tricky strategy and making yourself a formidable opponent.

Go from ‘WHAT is slow playing in poker’ to WHEN… and mix it with frequent fast play in your next 888poker session to elevate your game.