Poker Slow Rolling 101: What You Should Know About This Poker Strategy
As the best poker players will know, you can’t just go into a game and expect Lady Luck to be on your side. While you could just cross your fingers, kiss your horseshoe and maybe stuff a few four-leaf clovers into your pocket in an effort to boost your chances, this probably won’t work. What you need is a cold, hard strategy that you can practice, understand and wield in your battle to win a bracelet, or, at the very least, bragging rights in your weekly poker game between friends.
In fact, one of the biggest pieces of poker related advice is to have a consistent strategy. Having a strategy that you can carry with you, that you understand completely, is considered one of the keys to becoming a fantastic poker player. A good poker player never relies on luck – no matter what they end up getting dealt, they know how to bluff, when to raise and when to fold.
One such strategy that is sometimes employed is called slow rolling. While it has questionable effectiveness, if you regularly play poker then you are likely to come across it soon (if you haven’t already). So with our introductory guide, we’ll tell you what you should know about slow rolling, why it should (or shouldn’t) be used and how you are able to effectively fight back when your opponents try to use it against you.
What is Slow Rolling?
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Before we address the definition of slow rolling, you first need to know what a showdown is. Per the definition in our glossary of gaming terminology, the poker showdown is the part of the game in which you show the other players your hand of cards. The showdown occurs after all of the betting has occurred and it’s time to determine who has won the pot.
It is during this showdown phase that slow rolling typically occurs. It is essentially a form of showboating, as slow-rolling happens when a player who is holding a strong hand turns their cards over slowly, gloating about their cards and, for a small window, making their opponent feel as though they have a chance at actually winning the pot. Other actions that are considering slow rolling include taking a very long pause before calling an all-in bet or purposefully suggesting that you have worse cards than you do at a showdown before you reveal that you have the winning hand. With this in mind, it’s clear that there are cases where slow rolling can occur before the showdown.
However your define slow rolling, it is typically considered as a prime example of poor gaming etiquette. It’s right up there on the list of bad poker behavior alongside accusing people of doing things (without being 100% sure) and playing out of turn (especially if you do it repeatedly).
How Can Slow Rolling Help Your Poker Strategy?
Because it is such a major poker etiquette no-no, most expert poker players will advise you against slow rolling. Not only will it lead to ill-will between you and your fellow poker players but it could lead to you being kicked out of your club; which is something that you don’t want. You wouldn’t want someone to crush your hopes at winning a tournament like that, so don’t do it to someone else.
However, there are some ways in which slow rolling can actually help your poker strategy – but only when it’s not actually technically considered to be slow rolling.
To explain: There are actually two similar poker strategies, slow rolling and Hollywooding. They seem similar but are actually very different. Slow rolling can only happen if you are the last person to reveal your cards during the showdown, after the other player has gone all-in or if you are only facing off against one other opponent (therefore, you’d just be slow rolling to rub it in).
Meanwhile, Hollywooding is a poker strategy that can be done either:
- a) When a player has already gone all-in, you aren’t the last player to take action in the showdown and you want to make it look to other players as though you have a tough choice to make
- b) When your opponent has raised, isn’t yet all-in and you are slow to take action before you go all-in in an effort to make your opponents take additional action as a result.
There are some subtle differences there but they are important ones as one strategy makes you look like a villain while the other is just part of playing poker.
What Should You Do if Your Opponents Are Slow Rolling Against You?
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If an opponent, or if multiple opponents, have opted to use slow rolling against you, then you’ll probably want to call them out. But don’t do so in a way that’s aggressive or that’s going to risk physical altercation. After the game, pull them aside and have a conversation with them. Explain to them why slow rolling isn’t cool – at all – and why it’s an example of poor poker etiquette. Your opponents may not know that what they are doing is slow rolling (especially if they’re new to the game) and it would be a good opportunity to teach them so that they avoid doing it and offending other players in future.
Though, before you do that, it’s important to establish whether your opponent actually intended to slow roll. Did they actually intend to do the Hollywood because they’d read about it online and they just executed it incorrectly? Did they perform a slow roll in a game of poker unintentionally perhaps because they themselves were confused about what was going on in the game? In this case, it would be a good idea to be patient with your fellow poker players. Yes, you may be playing for money, but aggression won’t get people anywhere, especially if it was an innocent accident they didn’t mean to do.
As you can see, there are some upsides and downsides (mostly downsides) to the strategy of slow rolling in poker. It seems as though it’s best avoided but, when necessary, you can use the principles of slow rolling to your advantage, taunting your opponent (respectfully) in order to win.