Is it worth slow playing sets?

For many players this question has an obvious answer, because they assume that there is no other way of playing a set than by slow playing it. The reason for why they resort to such a strategy, is that they hope to extract the maximum profit and they are frightened by the prospect of scaring their opponents. It makes perfect sense not to be overly aggressive when your pair turned into a set on the flop, especially if we are talking about a small pair. These kinds of hands are very easy to disguise and an opponent who has a fairly strong hand will probably fire at least one more bullet before considering all alternatives.

Regardless of what position you find yourself at the poker table, slow playing sets can be a wise choice if you have the image of a loose player. On the other hand, if you are regarded as an aggressive opponent it is not recommended to slow play such a strong hand because this will only raise the alarm flags. Any dramatic change in the play style will make your opponents suspicious and some of them might shift into a passive mode right away. You need to be consistent and make continuation bets if that’s what you do often, while tweaking a bit the amounts so that your opponents will be tempted to call.

There are few cases when slow playing is not only not profitable but downright dangerous, and these have to do with flush and straight draws on the board. If the flop brings two or three colors bearing the same suit, it is a huge mistake to slow play a set because you risk losing everything on the subsequent streets. The right course of action is to defend your set aggressively, so that those who take their chances and call your high bets are embracing their underdog status.

Avoid passive play on the Turn

There are very few circumstances in which passive play is recommended, but such an attitude on the turn is a serious mistake that should be avoided at all costs. This stage of the game is not only the most complicated one but also the most important, because this is the moment when pots are won or lost. The odds for the river to change anything are slim and even though sometimes it might appear like the decision is made on the final street, it is influenced by what happens on the turn.

By using all the information provided by the pre-flop raises and the actions that remaining players took on the flop, you should be capable to make a few educated guesses. When you feel that you are still holding the better hands but the opponents are reluctant to throw their promising draws, it is imperative to shift into a more aggressive gear. Whether this means switching to bets and raises after a string of calls and checks, or increasing the size of the bets you make, you shouldn’t hesitate to come out firing.

Even if you are not confident that your hand is the strongest one, or have good reasons to believe that the opponent is ahead at this time, a bet or raise is still superior to a call. Passive play will encourage your opponents to fire another bullet on the River, and unless you are holding the nuts and slow playing your hand, this is not something you want to happen. Last but not least, it is important to remember that most of the players are more susceptible to bluffs on the turn, so if you’re trying to steal the pot this is the moment to do it.

Make profit with light 3-bets

Since most of the pots are won by those who take the initiative early and make the pre-flop raise, it makes perfect sense to try to put yourself in this favorable position. The question is how much should players bet pre-flop and which are the best ways of disguising a strong hand, without allowing too many opponents to see a cheap flop. offers a unique perspective over the light 3-bets which are regarded as an excellent way of winning a high number of small pots.

Sometimes the frequency of wins is more important than the size of the pot and the best proof is that stealing blinds is regarded as an essential ability. light 3-bets have the benefit of making a player more difficult to read and they work like a charm against tight aggressive players and some of the moderate loose aggressive players. The strategy is not functional for short stackers, because the ideal amount of chips in front of you should exceed 100 big blinds. The player needs to make a 3-bet with hands that can hardly be called premium ones, against opponents that are not likely to chase him all the way to the river.

The best way of countering the light 3-bets is through 4-betting but most of the players who dwell at lower and medium limits don’t know how to perform this move effectively. It is not enough to make the proper light 3-bets pre-flop, because this strategy requires perfect coordination on the flop, and the ability to react differently depending on the board. In order to extract the most from it, one needs to observe the way in which opponents play position and determine which players are more likely to fold their hand when confronted with aggression on a dangerous flop.