It’s one of those uncommon instances, it can happen in free online poker games and high stakes alike, when you have J-9, for example, and you flop J-J-9. You check, and your opponent bets, you call. Turn comes a 6, you check again, and your opponent bets. You call. River comes a 2. You check for the last time, your opponent bets a big amount which could be even an all-in, then you call. You finally reveal your monster J-9 against your opponent’s, say, 9-7.
Usually with strong made hands (like A-K in a flop of A-10-3) we bet aggressively with the hope that our opponents will take that for a bluff and play back, or that they will put us on a draw and call us, or that they have a showdown-quality hand which is not strong enough for our hand and then call us. Or that they will be not willing to call with their draw (say, K-Q) and fold.
But with very strong made hands, especially on the Flop, like the J-9 example above, we can slow play. That is to say, we play passively on the hope that our opponent will bet strongly so we can take away most of their chips.
Note that with a J-9 in the J-J-9 Flop, our checks may mean, that we may not have anything, or we may have just a draw (say, Q-10) so that they will bet on the hope that they will drive out our draw. They can’t. Our hand is like an erect statue already that is nearly impossible to demolish. The 9-7 our opponent has is decent enough to take to showdown.
But with the above, what we really want our opponent to have is the Q-10. Our check may mean that we may have nothing so that they may check along with us or semi-bluff with the open-end Straight draw. We just call.
Why wouldn’t we do the same with, say, A-J? Because with A-J, we have only Trips, and we do not want to give our opponent free cards to complete a Straight that can kill off our Trips. So we bet big, or raise big, and hope that the opponent folds, or at least put your opponent in the awkward situation of calling without sufficient pot odds.
But with J-9, we can just play it slowly. Because if your opponent hits his Straight, then he will bet big, so you can raise him. And it escalates to all-ins and calls and in a jiffy all or most of his chips are yours!
If your opponent didn’t hit his Straight, however, your slow play might mean to him that you’re the one on a draw, and you are playing passively because you are waiting for the right cards to fall. Nope! The right cards have already fallen! He will bluff, and you can take away all you can. Or he may just be in the proper mood to bluff with any hand (say, K-9 or eve A-K) and you can take his chips.
So, with very big hands that are nearly impossible to beat, we should play it slowly because you want your opponent’s hand to improve into a nearly-matched hand. If he hits his Straight, for example. If you raise him he may be scared away from completing his Straight, and you will get less chips than you would by slow-playing.
Or with 9-7, he may hit an additional Nine, thus giving him a smaller Full House. Another reason is that if your opponent is in such a mood to bluff that he is willing to bluff all the way, even with nothing, then you can strip off his chips, so give him that chance to bluff.
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