When it comes to Texas Hold’em Poker strategies, the fast play versus slow play debate is one of the most discussed. The first thing to know is, most of the time a player doesn’t really have a say in the matter. They’re either a slow player or a fast player by nature. It’s part of their personality, ingrained into their DNA, and there’s no two ways about it. Secondly, a player doesn’t have to pick a side. You don’t have to be only a fast player or only a slow player. In fact, you can and should have the ability to be both. Being able to play both sides of the coin takes time and practice, but it is a skill you will need to be a successful poker player because if you can learn to fast play your strong hands, you’ll learn to build bigger pots. And bigger pots means more money. Here we have a few things to keep in mind to make your fast play efforts more successful and worth your while.
Changing your speeds is what it’s all about. You never want to develop one pace of play. Staying at the same speed sets you up for failure as you are not able to hide your motives and it becomes very easy for your opponents to pick up on your tells, your wagering habits, and your calling tendencies. These are all things you are trying to hide after all and simply changing your pace of play can hide them all the more. No patterns, no schemes. Just decide to play the next four hands at a quick pace. Then the next two at a slow pace. Then the next seven at a regular pace. Just like that you’ve added a layer to your poker play. Of course, playing faster with a strong hand is what we are striving for, but one thing at a time.
A Fake Tell
Basically, by being able to change speeds, you are throwing your opponents off your scent. When poker players start to play faster, the obvious interpretation of this change in speed is that they have a strong hand. While this seems like a disadvantage, it really isn’t as poker is a long game and the quicker someone thinks they have you figured out, the better— especially when they’re wrong. If you are changing paces the right way, eventually no one will notice when you are playing a strong hand fast and when you aren’t. It’s actually quite beautiful in its simplicity, and that’s why it can work so well. It’s a fake tell mixed with reverse psychology. You throw opponents off your track simply by telling them exactly what you are doing. That may be the dramatic way to put it but it rings true, and all you have to do is change your pace up.
Force a Bluff
Another thing fast poker play automatically does is force your opponents to react quickly, and reacting quickly is not ideal for someone attempting to bluff you and the table. Bluffers hem and haw. They take their time and really sell the power of their terrible hand. Again, this is just a player’s instinct at work. They are bluffing, you are fast playing them, they automatically figure you have a good hand, bluff is now a fold. Bluffing is a tough business, and nothing makes it tougher than a fast play.
Quick Reaction Time
In blackjack, there is “Basic Strategy.” With this Basic Strategy, a blackjack player knows exactly what they will do next as soon as the dealer flips their first card over. They know this Basic Strategy so well it’s second nature and therefore, their decisions are made in the blink of an eye. The same has to happen in Hold’em. As the action moves toward you, you must keep up in real time. Watch how every check or raise changes your next play and then, when the player to your right makes his move, you should know exactly how you are playing. Second nature reaction time. Being able to build this natural reaction time will allow you to change your pace of play from slow to fast much easier. Make your decision, then play at which every pace you need to play.
Pick Your Spots
It is very important to remember that the key to successfully fast-playing your strong hands relies on your ability to do two things. Changing your pace up from fast to slow and back again will allow you to eventually pick your spots to fast play the strong hands each and every time. Also, knowing how you’re are going to play immediately will allow you to be able to pick your pace more easily. Soon enough, both reactions will be able to be made immediately without much thinking, and that’s when you are playing good poker.