What Is a Slow Roll in Poker and Why You Shouldn’t Do It?

Last Updated on January 3, 2020 Author:Adrian Sterne

slow roll in pokerPoker is an exciting card game that isn’t necessarily considered the friendliest one out there. A big part of the thrill and excitement in poker comes from being able to take your opponent off his game and push him into making some wrong decisions that will ultimately cost them money and hopefully increase your chip stack.

However, there is certain “poker etiquette” all players should abide by. The “poker etiquette” refers to a set of unwritten rules at the poker table, and any violation of these rules is going to be met with frowns, arguments, and might even lead to fistfights.

One of these appalling actions is a slow roll. A slow roll is a situation in which a player with the best hand deliberately delays calling or turning over his cards at showdown, thus giving other players the false hope of having a stronger hand.

Adding this unnecessary drama to the game by flipping the cards slowly is a clear example of a shameful and unsportsmanlike behaviour that only serves to belittle the opponents and show off.

In this article, we are going to discuss slow rolling, why it happens and why you should never do it, as well as:

If you playing online at one of our selected poker rooms, then you are less likely to get slow rolled due to timers being present. For those playing on a real life table, let’s get right to it.

Why Would Players Slow Roll in the First Place?

The reasons why players resort to slow rolling are many, and before we delve deeper into the subject, we need to say that players are sometimes unaware they are slow rolling.

There is this famous example when Phil the “Poker Brat” Hellmuth caused quite a scene at the 2003 Showdown at the Sands poker event, which was televised internationally. Namely, he squared off with the poker legend T.J. Cloutier whom he accused of slow rolling. A tirade ensued because Cloutier even declared Hellmuth a winner even though Hellmuth had a weaker hand. This accidental slow roll happened because Cloutier hadn’t realised he had made a flush.

It was one of those instances when a player overlooked his cards and made an unintentional mistake that, in this instance, meant Cloutier slow rolled Hellmuth into thinking he was the winner.

The whole incident was caught on camera and served as a good reminder of what a slow roll can do to a game of poker. Here’s how it went down.


However, some players do it for purely selfish reasons. They want to provoke a reaction from other players and throw them off their game. It usually occurs when there are only two players left in the game, and when this kind of behaviour can be used as leverage.

Also, it should be noted that when there is a history of bad blood between players, even among the pros, that’s where you’ll see slow rolling thrive since these players love to rub their winning hands in the opponents’ faces.

Why is a Slow Roll Considered Bad Poker Etiquette?

There’s no denying that poker is a competitive game, and where competition thrives, it is only logical that a lot of emotions are going to be involved. When a slow roll happens, it might be difficult for players to keep all those emotions in check.

Therefore, we can understand why players who, at that moment, might have lost a lot of money and chips, don’t want to be a part of that trick and might lose their cool at the poker table. Slow rolling, as an act of taunting players, is a sign of disrespect and bad manners, which goes entirely against common courtesy and what poker is all about.

Provoking players deliberately, as it happens with a slow roll, sends not the message of strength but childish tantrums. People tend to compare it with situations in which a player pulls off a big bluff and where, instead of merely mucking the cards, they choose to add some flair to it. There’s nothing wrong there. They deserve it. But in the case of slow rolling, it is just cruel and a prime example of violating poker etiquette.

Are There Any Explicit Rules Against Slow Rolls?

As is the case with many other games, there are unwritten rules players obey. However, these are often not specified in any rulebook or list of regulations, which means breaking these rules won’t lead to any official sanctions.

The same goes for slow rolling. Even though there are no explicit rules against it, the implicit ones clearly state that slow rolling is not allowed and that players who practice it are blatantly disrespecting the heritage of the game and its creed.

Also, players who are associated with slow rolling will earn a negative reputation among fellow players and might even get banished from poker tables.

Nobody likes a player who takes long intentional pauses before an all-in bet when in a strong position, which is one of the definitions of the slow roll move. Players who do this will have to bear their very own poker stigmata for unsporting and unethical behaviour.

What to Do If You Get Slow Rolled?

No matter how irritated you feel if you get slow rolled, it’s best to try and let go of the anger as quickly as possible. If you let it get to you, it might throw you off your game, which is precisely why some people slow roll in the first place.

Also, you should complement the winning hand of the player who slow rolled you. That way, you will put an end to any influence these actions might have on you, which could lead to this player abandoning the tactics altogether. However, never forget or forgive a slow roller. Take your time, wait for a strong hand, and give them a taste of their own medicine.

How to Avoid Unintentional Slow Rolls

When you are deep in the game, it is easy to get carried away and intentionally slow roll. However, there are certain things you should be aware of if you want to avoid that — and you most definitely should.

Firstly, always muck your hand or turn it over when your turn comes up. There is no reason to hold your cards if you are bust. Secondly, if you have the nuts combination, flip your cards first and don’t let the suspense kill other players at the table.

It is always better to be put out of poker misery quickly so that the players can prepare for the next round. Finally, if a player calls you out as the strongest hand, reveal it and be a good sport. Players will appreciate that and return in kind.


A slow roll is considered a dirty move at the poker table, and no matter how much some might try to justify it, it is still a sign of disrespect and unsporting behaviour you should avoid at all times. Remember, a poker reputation is a fragile thing, and if you want to be remembered as an honest player, make sure you respect the game and compete fairly.

In this article, we’ve discussed what a slow roll is, how and when it can occur, and how to avoid it. If you have a different experience or opinion, feel free to post it in the Comments section so we can discuss it further.

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Hi, I am the Chief Editor of top10pokersites.net, this site is dedicated to all thing poker. I have been working around the poker industry for the last 15 years, with different brands. The main purpose of this site is to keep you uptodate with the industry and offer you the best deals around.

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