Playing slow versus playing fast in poker

Slow playing and fast playing are two strategies that poker players deploy during a hand to outwit their opponents and build the pot. These two styles are used when a player makes a strong hand as opposed to “bluffing” with a weaker hand. However, slow and fast playing can still be used to deceive the opponent.

What is slow playing?

After selecting one of the live dealer poker games at the best NJ Online Casinos you can start experimenting with playing styles. Slow playing is not a term related to actually playing slowly but, instead, underrepresenting the strength of your hand. By being passive when you have made a three-of-a-kind on the flop in Texas Hold’em, you can build the pot more easily.

This means you should be aiming to just check or call other players’ bets rather than making bold moves yourself as this can put off other players from making a bet. Showing weakness can also make other players more aggressive than they might otherwise have been.

Professional poker player David Sklansky believes slow playing is only profitable when a player has a “very strong” hand. When you have only a decent hand, you run the risk of other players making a better hand in later rounds and losing a large pot in which you have invested.

 What is fast playing?

Fast playing a strong hand is the more traditional approach as it requires a player to be much more aggressive with bets and raises. Another factor that affects both fast and slow play is the “wetness” of the board. A “wet” board in poker would include two or three cards of the same suit and numbers that are closely connected. This increases the chances that someone with a lesser hand pre-flop could now potentially make a straight or a flush.

In this position, it is best to fast play a strong hand after the flop to prevent other players from seeing another card. Even if a player can make a straight, they probably won’t see value in calling if you make a larger bet with a strong hand. Not wanting an opponent to “outdraw” is a good reason to fast play.

Meanwhile, “dry” flops with uncoordinated, static cards are better for slow playing if you have a bigger hand. Opponents may try to bluff in this situation and even with more cards on the turn and river, they are unlikely to make a better hand. Gauging the wetness of the board should definitely inform the speed of your playing style in online poker.

To conclude, if the board in poker is draw-heavy with connected cards and similar suits and your hand is vulnerable to opponents making better hands later on, you should generally adopt a fast-playing style. When the board is dry and the pot is smaller, you have a better chance of extracting value by checking and calling with slow playing. Changing up your style depending on the hand, your opponent’s habits, and the board texture is recommended.