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What To Do If You Get Slowrolled

by Jonathan Little |  Published: May 04, 2022

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Jonathan LittleThere has been a rash of slowrolling on televised and live stream poker recently. Most notably, cash game crusher Garrett Adelstein found himself making a hero call in a pot worth $185,000 on Hustler Casino Live. His opponent said, “good call” and then paused before adding, “just kidding.”

Slowrolling is when someone knows they have the best hand either at the showdown or when facing a final bet, but they act as if they have the losing hand before eventually revealing the winner. Slowrolling is different than a nitroll, however, which is when the winning player does not know they have the best hand, either because they cannot read your hand or the board or they are just scared of getting beat.

While slowrolling has no impact on the game (because the best hand always wins at the showdown), it causes some players to get angry or annoyed because they thought they were going to win the pot, but instead lost. Many people view slowrolling as a personal attack and get angry, often resulting in suboptimal play if not raging tilt.

While I understand the reaction, if you get angry when someone slowrolls, you need to do some soul searching. Take

Why does it bother you? Perhaps you do not like thinking that you won and then having that money “taken” from you. Obviously though, that money was not yours, and winning or losing individual pots does not matter in the least bit in the long term.

Why should it bother you if someone takes a few extra seconds to reveal their hand? It should not (besides the fact they are slowing down the game by a few seconds). You are allowed to take as long as you want with your hands. There is no rule that states you must table your hand immediately when you have the nuts, and there should not be. (Some recreational players might not even know when they have the nuts.)

Why should you care if someone “attacks” or “targets” you? You should not. If you take things personally in poker or in life, you will find yourself playing into your attacker’s strategy. Realize that in poker, your opponents are out to beat you, and many players will use every trick within the rules to get it done. It is not unethical to do so. It is their job.

As far as I know, people slowroll for two main reasons. (If you have more, feel free to let me know on Twitter @jonathanlittle)

1. They are playing in a casual game with their friends and want to create good-natured excitement and drama.

2. They think their opponent will go on tilt.

For Fun Or Entertainment

If you are playing in a fun, casual (often small-stakes) game with friends where everyone is having a good time, a slowroll is not malicious at all. Get over it. For what its worth, I have only slowrolled in this manner and even then, very rarely.

To Try And Tilt You

If someone slowrolls you, take it as a compliment! They may be trying this tactic to get an edge on you because they fear you as a player and know that they themselves would tilt after being slowrolled. Of course, this is futile because you’re a good player and know that it does not matter if someone slowrolls you.

Understand that this is excellent information to have because it shows that the slowroller does not understand that poker is a math game and may be playing too large for their bankroll. I especially like being slowrolled in this manner because it lets me know a lot about my opponent’s mindset.

How To React

Instead of getting angry when someone slowrolls you, you should figure out why they slowrolled you and then adjust accordingly. Going on tilt, getting angry, or starting a fight are not viable options. Remember, your opponent wants you to go on tilt. If you go on tilt, you justify their slowroll. If you do not go on tilt, you nullify their strategy.

If the slowroll is for fun, try and have fun with it. You are playing for fun after all!

If the slowroll is to try to tilt you, you have two reasonable options.

1. Observe it and then do nothing. Act as if nothing happened (because in reality, nothing happened). This will often make the slowroller feel silly and look like an idiot to everyone else at the table. I enjoy making malicious players look like idiots. Take a lesson from Garrett Adelstein, who shook off that huge slowroll mentioned above and showed a lot of class by just quietly paying off the bet and moving on to the next hand. A week later, he got his revenge on the same opponent in an even bigger pot!

2. Pretend to be on tilt. I cannot get away with this because most everyone knows there is a 0% chance that I go on any meaningful form of tilt, but if you are a recreational player, it can be a powerful strategic adjustment. When people go on tilt, they usually bluff way too often, leading their opponents to hero call more often. So, adjust your range (especially for large bets) such that it contains fewer bluffs and more value hands. Easy game! Of course, this adjustment relies on you being able to act as if you are on tilt while not actually being on tilt, and also requires you to make some decent made hands in the near future. If you do not make any hands, you can simply sit there and play conservatively for an hour or so.

Should You Slowroll?

While slowrolling may tilt some of your opponents, it will also make them dislike you. While there may be some edge have be gained from slowrolling in the game, having people like you and want to play with you is way more beneficial than whatever edge you will gain at the table.

If people do not like you, many of your potential opportunities in life will go away, and if they like you, doors will open that you could not possibly imagine. I personally learned this because I used to wear sunglasses, headphones, and a hoodie when I played and I generally had an unfriendly table image. No doors opened and I had relatively few friends. I got rid of the sunglasses, headphones, and hoodie and started being friendly, and now many doors are open and I have numerous friends. Making good connections in life is worth way more than gaining a tiny bit of equity at the poker table.

Summary

Slowrolls do not matter. Do not let them bother you. If anything, they let you into the mind of your opponent, allowing you to make better decisions. Free information should be valued, not despised. ♠

Jonathan Little is a two-time WPT champion with more than $7 million in live tournament earnings, best-selling author of 15 educational poker books, and 2019 GPI Poker Personality of the Year. If you want to increase your poker skills and learn to crush the games, check out his training site at PokerCoaching.com/cardplayer.