Slowplay lesson

I managed to drop a few bucks playing online Monday night (mostly due to losing my buy-in with a set lost to an unlikely flopped straight) but I had some pretty strong hands, including two flopped full boats. Of course, the flopped boat is a difficult hand to extract money on, and I thought I’d share a specific hand I misplayed.

I was at the $25 PL tables, in the big blind, with KQo. With 3 other limpers in the pot, I was good with seeing the flop and going from there. It came down KQQ, two hearts. Very nice. It’s checked to me on flop and I check, hoping someone behind me has a queen or even a king. No dice, but I don’t think the play is wrong (at least, it’s not wrong to sometimes make that play, but many of the same issues I discuss below apply here as well, with the difference that hands may improve). The turn is a rag, and again I check it through, hoping someone might be braver with their king, or even a bluff attempt. This decision is a bit questionable, as the pot may be very small come to the river so even if I get action, there won’t be many dollars involved. But I feel there is a good chance someone behind me will play with a marginal hand, flush draw or even a pure bluff, so it has potential. Unfortunately, it’s checked through once again. I know someone people like to get some money in there so the pot is larger for later streets, but even a .5 bet would have thinned the field, and I needed someone to make a hand.

The river brings a third heart and I hope that someone just made their flush. UTG checks and I follow suit. Stupid, stupid play, though it took me a few minutes to realize how a pot-sized bet was pretty much the only play to make at that point.

Checking is a bad play for many reasons. It’s possible no one will bet and I’ll take a tiny pot with a great hand. And everyone will know that I’ll slowplay a monster, something which can work to my advantage, but trapping tends to be a very effective tool for extracting money in pot-limit, particularly when many players feel they need to follow through when they lead the betting. Even if someone has hit the flush, my re-raise is likely to put them off their hand, with possible higher flushs and a paired board, so I only double the pot, which is still far below expectation with a hand like that. Of course, it is possible I may get a bluff bet for money I could not have extracted any other way, but the odds of that are probably pretty near to the odds that someone would call me down just to see what I have, at least at the $25PL tables. And even if they do try to bluff, I am extracting only another $1.9, instead of

Now, if I bet the pot there is the chance, as I just mentioned, someone with a poor hand may call me out just to see my cards, so even if no one has a hand, I may still get paid. But, if someone hit the flush, they are likely to come back over the top of me anyways, and this gives the small blind a chance to play back at me if he was slow-playing the river flush. And if anyone hit the top (or near top) flush, they may even call my final re-raise, giving me the double-up opportunity you hope to see with this kind of hand. In the very worst case, where everyone folds, at least I have the advantage that no one sees my hand and will be no more wary of my trapping them in the future.

Of course, it turned out that small blind had hit the flush and was hoping to check-raise, so the proper play would have at least quadrupled the amount I could have won and perhaps even more. Not only did I make a mistake on the hand, it was a very unprofitable mistake.

One Response to “Slowplay lesson”

  1. Poker Nerd says:

    Tough (but good) spot to be in. In limit, I’d definitely fastplay this one on the flop and try to get as many chips as possible out of second-best and drawing hands. Sklansky-style.

    No-limit/pot-limit’s tougher. Lately, I’ve been betting out with monsters hard on the flop because it looks like you’re stealing, or in this spot, have a K. Someone may try to bluff you off or have a second-best they think is good. With that flop, I would say it’s going to be checked around on the flop 75% of the time or more because everyone tries to slowplay here. If the game’s loose enough, that flush draw might have even taken a card off.