-How and when to slow-play great starting hands.
You may hear it around the table… “aces suck”. Depending on how tight the table is, how many people are in the hand, if other aces are still live, and what position you are in (in relation to the bring-in), you can too often over-estimate them with a raise even though it may very well be the best starting hand at the table.
There’s an old saying to never slow play your aces, however, with only three cards in each hand the early investment on hoping to catch two pair, when flushes and straights show up on later streets, it could be just as beneficial to just call with them and raise later on when there are no threats of flushes and straights on the board.
Especially if you are playing to win money and are not just there for practice or just to kill some time, the name of the game is to manipulate money out of players getting them to call to the river with lesser hands, and tilt them with your strategy so that they are spending even more money trying to get back at you or get their money back. Humility with this strategy is a must. Getting too cocky after winning a few hands like this may get you in trouble later on, ending up tilting you instead, so it is important to mix up your strategy.
Heads up, three-way, and short handed at a loose table, you do not want to slow play a pair of aces.
When in late position with many callers, it is a very rare occasion that I have seen the lot of players who just called, actually fold a late position raise at the door. In late position with many callers, raising the bring-in only commits players to the pot. They’ve already invested early with one call, so calling a raise from an ace usually isn’t enough to scare people at the door when the deck is nearly completely live. Especially when seeing fourth street is still an inexpensive round allowing most players to see the next card.
Additionally, when you are in late position with your aces, you may consider catching a third ace as dead (odds of catching trips is slim), under the assumption that a player has called an opening combination that includes an ace in their hand.
Consider raising with your door card ace only if you are in early position, or late position with few callers, and in middle position if there are other face cards behind you that want to take a stab at out-turning your aces.
If you raise your ace in middle position and callers behind you have medium door cards showing, they are inclined to think that you are either bluffing, or have high hidden pocket pairs, flush, or straight draws if they call.
Potentially it’s beneficial to you to slow play a door card ace by simply calling so that the pot piles up bigger, with hands calling to the river.
Mix up the raising to confuse players on your strategy. After showing down a few winning aces-up hands, that are slow played, raise the bring-in every once in a while with a door card ace or even marginal hands such as Jacks or even 8’s to keep them guessing on when exactly it is that you raise.
Slow-playing trips is more difficult to do. Most times you have paired to board to catch them which often puts you in first position for betting. If the trips are small or medium, you may make an attempt at a check raise if there are plenty of over-cards on the board, although I don’t recommend doing that unless someone for sure has two high pair and thinks that you’re afraid that the pair you have showing isn’t good enough to beat theirs.
If you have a pocket pair and have just turned three of a kind on fourth street, I recommend that you do not raise until you have hit fifth street to commit the players to the pot to the river. Raising on fourth street makes it easier for the players to fold down decreasing the potential money going into the pot.
Expect that after your raise if you are not in betting position that the players will check and call, wanting to see the river, however not wanting to spend the money calling your raises to do it.
The difference between raising on fourth and fifth street could be a few extra dollars because players are not yet committed to the hand on the expensive streets. By all means, if the players at the table will call anything with just about any type of hand on the board, raise on fourth.