Slow Play Poker

No it doesn’t mean taking your time when playing. Slow-playing is a way of playing a hand tricky/deceptively in order to get more value out of a hand that you think would generate nothing otherwise.

Why Slow Play?
Sometimes you have to slow play your hand to get value, you won’t get anything out of an opponent otherwise. It’s not something you should be doing all the time, but there are certainly times and places for a slow play. The sole reason to slow play, as with most poker moves, is to get more value out of your hand.

Let’s look at an example:
You have 8s-8h in mid position and raise to 150 at 30/60, it folds to the big blind who calls. The flop is 8d 2s 2c. Your opponent checks to you.

Now ask yourself the following questions:
1)What is my opponent likely to be holding?
2)Is my opponent likely to call me?
3)Do I need to bet to protect my hand here?
4)How can I extract most value from the hand?

In the example above, your opponent is likely to have a wide range of hands (often nothing that connects with this board), you can very safely slow play your full house here. There are no scare cards to your hand checking may induce bluffs later in the hand too.

When To Slow Play?
A slow play will be the best line to take when the conditions below are met:
1)My opponent is weak and likely to fold to a bet.
2)My hand does not need to be bet and protected.
3)My opponent is likely to bet into me later in the hand or improve thus allowing me to get value.

Photo by Nick Abrams @nbabrams

Small Bets & Calls
Slow playing does not just mean checking back hands, it might be flat calling bets or making small bets to induce raises. It’s the sense you give your opponent, the apparent weakness you convey that makes it a slow play or not. For instance, if your opponent is the aggressor and bets all the way down and you flat call until your raise on the river and you showdown pocket Aces or a flopped flush, that is also a slow play.

Don’t Go Too Far!
Slow plays are great when properly put into practice but you must be careful not to over use or slow play hands that can be beat easily enough. There’s no point slow playing top pair multi way or even heads up only to lose to a turned gut-shot straight. It takes experience and an understanding of the hand in question and your opponents range to recognise when a slow play is the most profitable line in a hand. 

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Texas Holdem Questions


Poker Squeeze

A phrase given to a pre flop play in Texas Holdem where a player will re-raise over an initial raise and one or more pre-flop calls. It is usually with the intention of picking the pot up before the flop without showdown.

History of Squeeze Play
Twenty years ago, the squeeze was not even a play as such, a few of the best players probably did it without giving it the name but it was seldom used. Then Dan Harrington brought out his tournament books and with it, a revolutionary concept. Tight aggressive players found a new weapon to use and exploit opposition with.
However, poker is an evolving game with trends and once this strategy was being used all the time, winning players started taking note and with it, a shift in mentality. No longer could the squeeze play be used with impunity as you were likely to get 4 bet by a competent and thinking player. Or they would flat call an open with AA/KK from an aggressive player, hoping you would squeeze. The pendulum has swung back again though and it is not a move mentioned too often and it’s used less than the aftermath of its revelation to the poker world. It’s a brilliant move to use but only if the ingredients are there and you don’t over use it.

When is the Right Time to Squeeze?
The squeeze play loosely rests on the assumption that the open raiser is unlikely to be holding a premium hand. The theory being that a flat caller is also unlikely to be super strong, otherwise, they surely would have re-raised themselves. Whilst the logic is reasonable, you need certain to ingredients to be on your side for the squeeze have a reasonable chance of success. Please consider the factors below before squeezing.

1) Stack Sizes
There is no use squeezing and committing your chips and having to call an all in because you’ve priced yourself in. Have a close look at the stack sizes when you are considering a squeeze. It’s entirely plausible that a flat caller is setting a trap when short stacked or that either player will just go with their hand if they are short stacked at the start of the hand.

2) Your Table Image & Reputation
If you have a reputation for pulling off a lot of 4 bets and tricky aggressive moves then it far less likely to work. It’s better to have a solid table image at the time of making a squeeze. Your squeeze has to be credible i.e. your opponents need to believe that you are likely holding a premium hand.

3) Calibre of Opponent
If your opponent has shown no inclinations to fold before the flop, do not consider squeezing. Whilst your logic that they are weak pre flop is true, it does not mean they will fold. You can still squeeze if you wish but be prepared to play a big pot.

4) Position
As always, position is important. It’s better to be squeezing in position than out of position as you will get to play the hand in position for the rest of the hand. It’s not 100% essential to be in position when squeezing as the intention is to pick it up pre flop, however, it is another factor to consider.

5) Hand Strength
There’s no use turning very playable hands and positive scenarios into wasteful ones by squeezing. If you are holding a suited connector or a little pair in position, multi-way, then it’s best to play the pot and try to get value. A squeeze is usually better to do with a hand of little value or good blockers, e.g. Ace Three.

I hope you enjoyed this article on the squeeze play. Feel free to subscribe our mailing list and receive more free tips and exclusive offers or follow us on twitter. You can also contact us at info@texasholdemquestions.com.

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Texas Holdem Questions

Check Raise

A play that used to be considered bad etiquette and still is in some old casinos. The check raise is a tricky and powerful move when used effectively in poker.

What is a Check Raise?
It is where a player will check (representing weakness) and then re-raise a bet on the same round of betting. Let’s took a look at an example:

Example:
Player A raises to £10 before the flop and Player B calls from the big blind. The flop comes 7s 8s 3d. Player B checks to the initial raiser. Player A bets £15 and Player B re-raises to £50.  
Notice Player B checked, then raised the bet hence “check raise”.

Why Check Raise?
There can many reasons a player may opt to check raise. It can be designed to build the pot up for bigger bets and value later in the hand. It can also be used to represent a strong hand and in fact be bluffing. It can be used to exploit an aggressive player and it can also be used to semi bluff.

Photo by Amanda Jones @amandgraphc

Perceptions of a Check Raise
An experienced player will usually identify strength with a check raise as the opponent is putting in more chips and money than necessary. Let’s face it, if a player wants to bluff to win the pot – they will usually just bet to try and steal it. I mean, why risk more than necessary right?

A weak player may not read much into a check raise and will probably just play the strength of their own hand so if you are trying an elaborate bluff against a beginner who probably has a top pair or better, it might be worth thinking twice before barrelling off.

Risks of a Check Raise
By checking to your opponent you are risking giving free cards that can beat you. It also makes it harder to bluff if you have nothing as your opponent has less streets to fold to resistance. You need to feel pretty confident your opponent will bet if you are considering a check raise.
Secondly, if you are trying a check raise on a bluff that you are investing more than a standard bet. Let’s face it, if your opponent is strong, the fact you check raised isn’t going to make much of a difference.
There is also the risk that you do this move too often, even an intermediate player will pick up on tendencies so be careful not to over use the check raise.

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Texas Holdem Questions

Re-Raise Early Position Opens

When was the last time you 3 bet an early position raise with junk? How many times in your last session? This move is really underused these days and barely discussed but there is a lot to be said for putting in a re-raise again an early position open from an active player. I find this play to be one of the most profitable pre flop moves available at the moment.

Why?
Most good thinking players have opened their game up enough that they are quite liberal opening from anywhere on the table these days, even early position. A good player will be opening suited connectors and suited aces from early position. They will open these because they are hands with great play-ability and equity, even multi-way, and they are representing something stronger too so it fits in line with stories told post flop.
They won’t hesitate to fold pre flop when facing a re raise as they no longer have the lead in the hand and want to play in position. The best way to counter this strategy is to simply re raise and pick it up before the flop. This works very well against the good players, and when you are in position in the hand. 
The weak players will often open raise wide pre flop too. They will occasionally call the re-raise pre flop but then fold unless they flop well so a continuation bet is usually all that is needed to win the pot.
Either way, the strategy is effective against both types of player. The key component is that your opponent has shown a willingness to open wide from early position.

When?
You can do this at any point in a tournament but please make sure you and your opponents have sufficient stack size and that you are not committed for lots of chips. It’s usually a good idea to do this with hands that have poor equity or showdown value as you know you are not losing anything if you get 4 bet and you are unlikely to get stubborn post flop. You know you are playing this as a bluff. It’s ok to do it with Ace rag too as this has some blocker value. 
I don’t recommend doing this with hands that play well post flop as much as you should be more inclined to play post flop with these hands, particularly in position.

I demonstrated this strategy recently in a low stakes MTT on PokerStars.  I made a point of trying to find as many opportunities to re-raise pre flop, in position. It’s quite fun to employ this strategy and very effective! Check it out below in our training video page.

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Texas Holdem Questions