SLOW PLAYING TO MAXIMISE VALUE
So here I am at the 2004 World Series of Poker. Binionís Horseshoe has been taken over by new owners... at long last. That is not the most obvious change that greeted me though. America has gone Poker mad, mad, mad. An astonishing 343 have just paid an amazing $25,000 to play the main event at the Bellagio. And yesterday I walked into Binions satelitte area and couldnít believe my eyes. Last year there would have been maybe 3 or 4 tables running. This year there were 23 or 24 tables buzzing with excitement. Hordes and hordes of new players. God bless America, god bless the WPT on the discovery channel, and god bless Chris Moneymaker. This is Poker heaven!
I managed to win a seat for the $2000 No Limit Hold em event in a one table satelitte. I got lucky when I slow played pocket Kings catching both blinds who both flopped top pair. As an added bonus, I was given a poker lesson by a very attractive young lady with a large bosom. She explained how dangerous it was not to raise with Kings before the flop. Bless her! Anyway I tripled thru and managed to outlast the rest to gain a seat in the NLH event for a paltry $230.
It can be very annoying playing you play tournament poker and you have waited two hours to pick up a hand. You finally look down at a pair of Kings, raise 3 times the Big Blind and everyone passes. Doh!... So what is the correct thing to do?
In the majority of cases the correct thing is exactly that. If you raise 3 times the Big Blind with AJ in mid to late position, then you must raise 3 times the Big Blind with your Kings (regardless of position). That way your eagle eyed opponents wont be able to tell what cards you play. If everyone passes, itís not the end of the world. At least you didnít lose with them.
In the satellite I mentioned above, I picked up the Kings in first position in a 9 handed aggressive one table satellite. I figured if I flat called, someone in a later position would raise, and then I could re-raise and get all my chips in the middle before the flop. A cunning plan... that didnít work. Everyone passed around to the blinds who smooth called. The flop came Jack high and they both decided they liked it. So it was just a matter of crossing my fingers and hoping neither had two pair.
In Limit Holdíem there is rarely any justification in slow playing big hands, especially in the lower limit games. If you have a pair a Kings I would recommend that you raise at every opportunity. The obvious reason is to make the pot as big as possible, so you win as much as possible. Another good reason though, is that you are better off playing against 1 or 2 opponents with your Kings than against the whole table. Less players will call 2 bets, and hopefully you wont lose the pot to anyone playing 5,6 of hearts. Post flop, the song remains the same. If it shows 3,7,J and your opponent bets, then raise him. Donít get cute. If for example he has 10,J or J,K, and the next card comes an Ace. Although it doesnít help either of you, it freezes the betting because it scares you both. And the pot that you win is that little bit smallerÖ
So as usual, I am being as contradictory as ever. But most of the time, it doesnít pay to be too clever.