Slow-rolling – Time-wasting or Tactical?

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Recently there has been discussion in the poker press concerning slow-rolling. In poker slow-rolling happens when somebody knows that they have the winning hand but, when asked to declare it, he or she takes an undue amount of time before showing it. It comes in many forms, for instance a player may only show one card rather than two and wait for the other players to show their cards before showing the second, or making misleading comments such as saying you have two pairs, tens and tens, rather that saying you had four tens.

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Slow rolling is generally considered to be very bad poker etiquette, but the argument that people are using in its favour is that it tends to upset other players and as a consequence adversely affect the way that they play. Another argument in its favour is that it can be very useful in a large tournament with a large field still in play. In this instance it is essentially a form of stalling. By taking as long a time as possible over a hand that is already won you increase the chances of other players being eliminated on other tables thereby increasing your overall expected value.

Most players think that both of these justifications hold little water and although discourteous play seems to be a part of the modern game, particularly when carried out by some of the more aggressive players such as Tony H and Phil Helmuth, it does little to improve the general impression of the game. Over recent years poker has made big strides from the smoky and somewhat seedy poker parlours of old to the main stream televised tournaments of today. Maintaining a good image of the game is important, and slow rolling only does this harm.

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