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Slow playing is the act of disguising a big made hand in the hopes of enticing your opponent to put more money into the pot. In other words, instead of playing aggressively and perhaps having the other player fold his or her hand, you act weak in the hopes that they will continue to call your bet or even bet into you so that you can raise.
There are several scenarios where slow playing can earn you a bigger pot.
To smooth call is to simply limp in with a big hand pre-flop or simply flat call an opponents bet post flop instead of raising.
When you're holding a big hand that you feel is in the lead you may want to limp in pre-flop to disguise your hand strength. Just as well, you may want to just flat call an opponents bet which also covers up the fact that you have a big hand. This method will entice most players to continue betting, especially if they're holding a solid hand themselves such as top pair, top kicker
This method works well also and often will fool your opponent into thinking you're chasing a draw. An example would be if you flopped top set on a rainbow flop (all different suits) with no straight possibilities, then checked the flop to a player who bets. You may want to feign deep thought here before calling, as that usually indicates to your opponent that you actually fear their bet.
The one thing to look for here is if the opponent checks behind you on the flop or turn. If that happens you may want to switch gears and begin betting a small percentage of the flop in order to look weak.
Making a small bet into a large pot can signal an opponent that you're weak. It can also be viewed as a value bet but in this context, we're looking to get a call from an opponent that would otherwise fold.
So in practice, it doesn't really matter what they think as long as you get your call, which is the goal here. This method can qualify as slow playing if your efforts to check call or check raise have failed but you're still trying to extract the maximum value from your hand.
In summary, you almost always want to slow play when you hit a massive hand. The almost here means you have to mix up your betting patterns and not always play the same way in a given situation.
If multiple players are in the pot the one thing you have to be careful of is someone drawing out on you. Even top set can be crushed by a flush so ideally, the texture of the board makes a flush possibility slim to none. The same goes for straights, unless of course, you're the one holding it. Then you'll likely want to slow play in order to extract the most from your opponent and avoid pressing them to fold.
There are many other times you'll want to slow play as well so hopefully this article has given you some good ideas for how to execute the successful slow play routine.