Is this a spot to slow-play your poker hand?

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About once a decade, we’ll hit a flop so hard that our only objective the rest of the hand is to get as much of your opponents’ money in the pot as possible. So here are some ideas on each type of hand from the perspective of from the flop.

ROYAL FLUSH: FAST PLAY: With a potential four flush most likely making it hard to get value from a nine-high flush, I see advantages of fast-playing this hand. Our only opportunity to win massive will be if someone has a flush or a hand that can become a full house. 

STRAIGHT FLUSH: SLOW PLAY: There are lots of reasons to appear weak when a board flops smaller straight flushes. It creates bluffing opportunities for opponents and the inevitable Level 1 line of “I put you on A-K.”

QUADS: SLOW PLAY: Most of the time, you’re going to be the only one who connects with the flop so I prefer a slow play simply for the purpose of helping opponents make a silver-medal hand.

FULL HOUSE: SLOW PLAY: Similar to quads, you likely hit everything and there isn’t much left for opponents. 

FLUSH: FAST PLAY: Possible exception for specifically the nut flush on certain flops, fast play makes up most of my decisions because opponents have wider ranges than normal because of their ability to have one-card flush draws with which to continue.

STRAIGHT: FAST PLAY: This was the real motivation for this strategy column. I think fast play is great because we unblock most hands from where we can get value. For example, if we have 7-6 on a 9-8-5 flop, there are so many hands that are willing to play a big pot with us, so we should allow them to do just that. All sets, all two pairs, many different pairs-plus-straight-draw combos and we run the risk of losing action to a lot of worse hands when possible counterfeit cards come.

THREE OF A KIND: MIXED: Top set usually falls into the slow-play category because I expect most opponents to not have enough of a hand to call or be able to play a big pot. Meanwhile, bottom set is usually in the fast-play category.

I hope the overall concept you’ve taken from this message is that whether to slow play or fast play has a lot more to do with number of players in the hand, what types of hands opponents most likely have and how to build the biggest pots.

— Michael Laake is a Florida dealer and tournament grinder since 2005. Email him at Allthingzpoker@gmail.com.

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