What is slow playing in poker?

Not to be confused with ‘slow rolling’, which is the subject of an altogether different question, ‘slow playing’ in poker is a deceptive tactic, whereby a player with a strong hand chooses to represent weakness rather than strength and, in so doing, encourages opponents to keep playing. Rather than playing a hand aggressively, by betting or raising, slow playing involves playing weakly or passively, by just checking or calling before and after the flop, and on the turn, when given the option. Slow playing denies your opponent the opportunity to make any meaningful assumptions about the strength of your hand but, by handing him the initiative, you may cause him to over-commit to the pot, which makes it more difficult for him to fold when faced with a substantial raise in a subsequent betting round.

Poker experts generally agree that slow playing typically works best against loose, very aggressive opponents, who play a high percentage of hands and frequently bet or raise after the flop. This is especially true against a lone opponent in a ‘heads-up’ situation. Similarly, a so-called ‘dry’ flop, with no possible flush or straight draws, and little or no possibility of a ‘free’ turn card that can significantly improve opponents’ hands, creates a favourable situation for slow playing a strong holding. By contrast, betting a dry flop is likely to encourage to fold marginal or drawing hands and result in a pot that is a fraction of the size possible by slow playing.