Owner and Lead Pro
Professional Cash game trainer Bart Hanson has been producing strategy content for over fifteen years. He first started on Live at the Bike! back in 2005, then moved on to host "Cash Plays" on Poker Road, then "Deuce Plays" on Deuces Cracked and then to CrushLivePoker in 2012.
In his career as a professional poker player, Bart Hanson has:
-6 WSOP Final Tables
-Over 15 years of experience at the table
-Over $1,000,000 in tournament earnings
-Multiple appearances on ESPN and Poker Night in America
-4th place finish in 2019 WSOP Monster Stack
I am going to preface this segment of this article by saying I HATE SLOWPLAYING. When David Tuchman and I first started broadcasting Live at The Bike back in 2005 we really did not know that much about no limit cash games. In fact, neither of us had played at the stakes that we were broadcasting. But we did give out one important piece of information that allowed players to drastically increase their winrates—fast play big hands.
Back then people thought that no limit was a game of trapping. Most of the time the only no limit experience that these new players had was in shorter stacked tournaments. These players did not understand that in cash games the stacks are almost always deeper and that getting maximum value from your hand vastly out trumps trying to get someone to bluff at the pot. I have seen players take absolutely ridiculous lines trying to slowplay. One hand comes in mind from a few years ago during a $10-$20 no limit game in Los Angeles. Both players were $5000 deep. A few people limped in and this tighter Asian fellow made it $120 from the button. Only the big blind called who was somewhat of an action player. The flop came out Q♦ J♣ 3♠. Both players checked. The turn was a T♥ and the big blind led out for $200. The button called. The river was the 3♥. The action player now bet $400 and the button raised to $1000. The blind thought for a bit and called. The button showed pocket Qs and the blind tabled pocket Js. I could not believe it. If the button had breathed on the flop all of the money would have been in. What was the button trying to accomplish this deep by checking? It is one thing if you are up against an aggressive player and you want them to bluff at the pot but generally you will make a lot more by betting your hand and hoping that your opponent will A. call and catch up to a second best hand or B. make a move at the pot.
Some would ask why we shouldn’t check a big hand to allow someone to catch up to a second best hand. I contend that it is better to bet because you will get more action if your opponent improves on a later street. Let us say that in the above hand our opponent had J9. The flop went check check and now the turn is a J instead of a T. Our opponent bets and we just call. On the river we raise his bet and he just calls fearing pocket queens. Now conversely, let us say that we bet the flop a little small and he calls thinking that his J might be good. Now on the turn he checks to us and we bet again. We have him. It is clear that this is a better way to get a lot of money committed.
Now you can sometimes get into a situation where you slowplay and your opponent hits a smaller set on the turn or two pair but I still maintain that once you raise later on he will go into a check calling shell because your hand looks so strong. Specifically I would avoid checking middle set after being the preflop raiser especially if there is an A or K on the flop. In reality, what are you trying to have your opponent hit? It is much more profitable to build a pot up against top pair than allow another card to come off that makes your opponent some other hand. You also have to be careful of what I call the negative equity slowplay where you check a strong hand and the only action that you get from your opponent is from a card that comes that now beats you. I see this all the time when people check a hand like AK on an AA7 flop. They give their opponent a free card and suddenly they have lost a ton of money to pocket 3s when a three rolls off.
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