Why Slow Roll Poker Is a Rude Way to Play in a Casino

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Snail and Poker Cards

Slow roll poker is one of the most obnoxious things you can do at a poker table in a casino.

Want to anger every player at the table? Want to have no respect? All you need to do is slow roll.

It works every time. Keep reading below to find out why you shouldn’t slow roll in a poker game and how to avoid being a rude poker player.

What Does It Mean to “Slow Roll” When Playing Poker?

Slow rolling doesn’t refer to a single behavior, but rather, a group of behaviors.

A Set of Dice, Chips, and a Deck of Cards Next to a Poker Hand

Here are some examples:

Let’s say that your opponent makes a huge bet, maybe even going all-in. You wait a long time before deciding to call his bet. But then, when you turn over your hand, you clearly have a huge favorite or even the nuts.

Or let’s say you’re at the showdown, and you take a long time to show your hand. It doesn’t matter how cute you think you’re being. It also doesn’t matter how strong your hand is. It’s just bad behavior.

But do you want to know what the worst kind of slow-rolling is?

It’s when you pretend you’ve lost before showing your winning hand. It’s not the same thing as checking or check-raising. Those are legitimate tactics in a poker game, although my father-in-law used to get angry every time he got check-raised. (He thought it was rude, too, but it’s a different matter compared to slow rolling.)

Why Is Slow Rolling So Bad?

Proper etiquette at the poker table, especially in a live casino, is important. These are agreed-upon rules of behavior that people follow in order to get along.

Two People Playing Poker, Poker Cards Spread Out

The correct etiquette is to show your cards immediately if you’re winning. It’s also correct etiquette to show your cards right away when it’s your turn to show your cards.

Slow rolling or delaying your actions is the exact opposite of that.

Anything you do that intentionally slows down the game without a valid reason is rude. I used to play with a guy who used to get so mad if you slowed down the game that he was downright frightening.

Besides slowing down the game, you’re toying with people’s emotions. It’s obnoxious and insensitive to give a player the hope that he’s going to win a hand when he’s not going to. It’s the poker equivalent of adding insult to injury.

I read a great article by Mike Caro once where he explained that you’ll make more money at a poker table where everyone’s friendly and having fun than you will at a table where everyone’s serious and mad.

That’s because cheerful people are more willing to gamble. Basically, slow rolling is just bad sportsmanship.

Is Slow Rolling Good Poker Strategy, Though?

Everyone knows that if you’re on tilt, you’re going to play badly.

The Word Strategy Surrounded by Playing Cards

So, wouldn’t it make sense to put as many people at the table as possible on tilt by slow rolling? No, because unethical poker is always bad strategy, just like cheating is.

When it’s your turn, show your cards right then. Or muck them immediately. Never waste your opponents’ time.

If you have a great hand, call your opponent’s all-in bets immediately. Don’t wait. It’s not cute, and you don’t get an advantage. In fact, some people will get so angry they’ll refuse to play with you again. You can’t win money from people who won’t play poker with you.

There’s a difference between declaring what your hand is mistakenly, and declaring it wrong intentionally.

If you’re new to the game, you will probably be forgiven for declaring your hand incorrectly. But don’t think you’re going to fool anyone into thinking you’re a novice if you’re not.

And if you’re a beginner to playing poker and still keep making this mistake, don’t even announce what you have. Just show your cards. The dealer and the other players will figure out who has the best hand.

Some players do slow roll, but even when they do, they avoid doing it in big pots. They usually do it at home games when they’re playing with friends.

Slow rolling is never good strategy in a casino poker game.

Sometimes a Slow Roll Is a Mistake

Want to see how mad someone gets when they’re slow rolled? Watch this video of Phil Hellmuth getting mad at TJ Cloutier.

Did you notice how mad Hellmuth got? Even the headline says that he exploded.

By all accounts, Cloutier wasn’t intentionally trying to slow roll Hellmuth here. In fact, Cloutier is such a class act that Hellmuth’s reaction seems even whinier and classless than usual.

On the other hand, you can understand Hellmuth’s frustration, as he correctly guessed that Cloutier was bluffing only to find that Cloutier had overlooked his hand.

If someone does make a mistake and look like they’re slow rolling, give them the benefit of the doubt, as Hellmuth eventually did in that video.

Is Slow Rolling Considered Cheating?

You’ll sometimes come across an obnoxious player who likes to slow roll. When you (or anyone else at the table) says something to him about it, he’ll usually respond that it’s not against the rules.

Someone Pulling a Ace of Hearts Out of Their Sleeve to Cheat

That’s rules-lawyering at its finest. There are official, written rules, and there are unofficial, unwritten rules. Slow rolling might not be cheating, but it’s almost just as bad.

Some cardroom managers won’t like it, though. They have a certain amount of leeway related to what’s going on in their poker room, so it’s better to stay on their good side.

And don’t think for a minute that the cardroom manager won’t notice what you’re up to if you’re slow rolling. The reaction will be so bad it will be impossible not to notice.

In a tournament setting, there might even be penalties. And cardrooms do have explicit rules about disrupting their poker games. If they decide that your slow rolling is disturbing the other players, you might find yourself getting the boot.


Slow roll poker is bad poker with no upside. It’s bad for the other players, but it’s even worse for you. It’s more fun to win at poker by being a gentleman who shows a little bit of panache than it is to be an obnoxious lout that no one wants to play with.

One of the basic tenets of etiquette in any situation, including poker, is to think about how you’d like to be treated in the same situation. If you think about it, I’m sure you’ll admit to yourself that you wouldn’t like it if someone slow rolled you.

Most importantly, though, it will reduce the amount of action you’re able to get. You can’t win money at poker if no one will play with you.

And friendly, happy players are more likely to gleefully put more money into the pot.

How to avoid slow roll poker? Show your hand quickly, every time it’s your turn to do so, unless you’re folding. Even then, do it fast and don’t make the other players wait.

Michael Stevens

Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016. ...

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