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What is Slow Rolling in Poker? Plus The 5 Sickest Slow Rolls Ever

Slow rolling is one of the most despised moves in poker. 

This article will explain what a slow roll is, then you’ll see a countdown of the top five grossest slow rolls ever.

What is a Slow Roll in Poker?

A slow roll is when a player purposefully pauses before calling a (usually all-in) bet with an extremely strong or unbeatable poker hand. It’s also considered a slow roll when a player intentionally pauses before revealing the winning hand at showdown.

A pure show of bad sportsmanship and taunting, the goal of a slow roll is to give the opponent hope that they are going to win the hand, only to pull the rug out from under them.

Slow rolling will almost certainly draw the ire, or in some cases laughter, of other players at the table.

Let’s take a look at five filthy slow rolls that left others in the poker room fuming:

#5. Phil Hellmuth vs T.J. Cloutier

This hand between a pair of poker legends takes place at the Showdown at the Sands in 2003. For old-school poker fans, this hand has a little bit of everything.

Phil Hellmuth sits down at the table and limps with A♣3, getting into the action before he’s even finished situating his chips. T.J. Cloutier calls in the small blind with T♠9♣, and Phil Gordon checks from the big blind.

The flop comes K♠7♠J, and action checks to Hellmuth, who bets and gets called by only Cloutier.

The turn brings the A♠, and we get to see Cloutier’s heart rate go up into triple digits, thanks to a special heart rate monitor in play for the viewers at home. Cloutier leads out and Hellmuth, now with top pair, calls.

The river comes the 3♠, and Cloutier puts out a big bet and gets called by Hellmuth. “You win, Phil,” concedes Cloutier as Hellmuth tables his two pair.

Phil Hellmuth slow roll poker

Not amused by Cloutier’s slow roll

The problem is that Hellmuth did not win the hand. After several moments, Cloutier turns over what he though was an inferior ten-high, but is actually the third nut flush.

This example of slow roll poker was almost certainly unintentional on Cloutier’s part, as Cloutier explains to Hellmuth that he didn’t realize he held a spade. The move infuriates Hellmuth nonetheless.

#4. Ron Rose Compilation

The following montage of hands from the Professional Poker Tour sees three poker slow rolls involving Ron Rose, with Rose experiencing both ends of the spectrum.

In the first hand, Rose opens to 9,000 with pocket kings, and Alan Goehring shoves over the top for 45,500 from the small blind with pocket fours. Action folds back around to Rose, who has Goehring well covered.

This spot calls for a snap call from Rose, but he instead asks for a count on Goehring, allowing his opponent to count out his exact chip stack. Rose deliberates for several more moments, then makes the call.

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The second hand sees Dan Harrington shove under the gun with A♣6♠ for around five big blinds in five -handed play. Rose, again having his opponent well covered, looks down at JJ♣.

Instead of calling immediately, Rose pulls the same move, asking for a count and appearing to think things over for several moments before making the call.

“This is borderline inappropriate on Ron Rose’s part,” says the commentator, as the play-by-play team is once again appalled.

 This time, however, Rose’s pocket pair doesn’t hold, as Harrington picks up two pair and doubles up.

This hand is notable for the notes on poker etiquette that come across the screen during Rose’s slow roll, as well as the reaction from Harrington, one of the nicest players in the game but clearly unimpressed by Rose’s behavior.

The final hand of this slow roll poker collection sees Rose himself get slow rolled, as Chris Bigler gets all in with pocket aces against Rose’s pocket nines. After the money goes in, Bigler takes plenty of time to turn over the nuts.

#3. Samantha Abernathy vs. Mikel Habb

On the way to a career-high payday at the 2016 Aussie Millions, Samantha Abernathy’s tournament run almost ended on the losing end of a slow roll from opponent Mikel Habb.

Facing an under-the-gun open raise to 50,000, Habb decides to make a small three-bet to 112,000 with K♥K♠ in the small blind. Abernathy goes all in for 514,000 from the big blind with 66, and the original raiser folds.

Habb then goes into one of the more theatrical poker slow rolls we’ve ever seen, showing feigned anguish and getting up from his seat with his hands behind his head. After a few moments, Habb makes the call and starts celebrating.

This example of slow roll poker prompts the commentators to root for a six to hit the board and eliminate Habb.

Samantha Abernathy slow roll poker

Dishing out the slow roll karma

#2. Shaun Deeb vs. Mike Matusow

Shaun Deeb has a well-earned reputation as one of poker’s most notorious slow rollers, and he puts that image on display in this hand against Mike Matusow on Poker Night in America.

The hand starts with Matusow opening from the lojack with JJ♠ , and Deeb making the call with 55♠ on the button. Deeb hits an optimal flop for his hand, with T♣55♣ appearing on the board and giving Deeb quads.

Matusow c-bets $1,000 on the flop, and Deeb casually calls. The turn comes 4♣, and Matusow goes all in, putting in a 1.5x overbet for $4,675.

Holding the invulnerable nuts, Deeb goes into the tank. He gets Matusow to count out the bet before making the call.

Unlike some of the other slow rolls on this list, Deeb’s needle to Matusow delights the other players as the table. Matusow, however, isn’t pleased.

Shaun Deeb slow roll poker

The king of the poker slow roll

#1. Andreas Gann vs. Donnacha O’Dea

A truly filthy poker slow roll tops our list, and takes place at the 2015 Irish Open. The tournament had reached the final table, with eight players remaining.

Irish poker legend Donnacha O’Dea opens for 2x the big blind from the hijack with A♣6♣. Andreas Gann, with just five big blinds remaining, makes the curious decision to just flat call from the small blind with KQ.

The flop comes a favorable 8 A 6 for Gann, giving him the nut flush. Gann checks, and O’Dea quickly c-bets with his two pair, betting enough to put Gann all in. Gann decides to tank for well over a minute before triumphantly making the call and tabling the nuts.

Gann’s actions draw the ire of other players at the table, as well as the announcers, who are left rooting for an ace or a six to hit the board

The lesson to be learned here is this: slow rolling often goes wrong.

Note: Want to upgrade your poker skills? Get free preflop charts and start playing like a pro before the flop. Download now!

Home > What is Slow Rolling in Poker? Plus The 5 Sickest Slow Rolls Ever
Home > What is Slow Rolling in Poker? Plus The 5 Sickest Slow Rolls Ever
About the Author

Geoffrey Fisk

Freelance writer and poker player based in San Diego, California.

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