Most poker players who’ve been around for a little while know what a slow roll is. Essentially, a slow roll occurs when a player purposely delays showing their winning hand at showdown. Often slow rolls happen accidentally, as in situations where a player doesn’t realize they hold the winning hand. More commonly perhaps though, slow rolls are executed with preconceived intent.
When it’s the latter situation, slow rolls are one of the worst displays of poor etiquette at the poker tables. This act delays the game, and can provide a false sense of hope to the unfortunate recipient… kind of like when you see a face-up ace when playing free blackjack. One of the most memorable slow rolls in poker history occurred during an episode of Poker Night in America. The infamous hand involved Mike Matusow shoving all-in with a pair of jacks into Shaun Deeb’s quad fives. Deeb quietly informed Matt Glantz that he was slow rolling, proceeded to tank for about 30 seconds before finally making the call. Matusow responded to Deeb with a mouthful, including a few choice words not suitable for television.
Four years ago, while playing a cash game at the Casino de Montreal, I became the recipient of a slow roll. Several times throughout the night, an elderly gentleman performed several faux pas including: exposing his cards to the table with several players left to act, making gestures to indicate that he would have won the hand despite being folded, and deliberately tanking to slow the game. However, none of those made me more furious than the slow roll he put on me.
In this article I will be presenting five of the best slow rolls depicted in film.
Doc Holliday (Tombstone)
In this poker scene, a drunk Doc has been playing for 36 hours straight and refuses to go to bed. Ike Clanton informs Doc that has been called and to show down. Doc casually takes a sip of his drink, reveals the winning hand, and lets out a casual “oops”. Clanton suspects Doc of cheating due to him winning 12 straight hands. Doc suggests “let’s have a spelling contest” infuriating Clanton and nearly resulting in a brawl.
Le Chiffre (Casino Royale)
A multi-way pot occurs between Bond, Le Chiffre, and Felix Leiter with a board reading: Jh, Ks, Ac, Jd, Kd. Bond leads out betting on the river, Le Chiffre min-raises to 1 million with Felix quickly folding. Bond suspects Le Chiffre is bluffing, based on a physical tell he observed from an earlier hand. Bond, facing a 4-bet all-in from LeChiffre, decides to call with the third nuts and flips over his hand first. Le Chiffre places his cards together, only the jack of clubs exposed, gives Bond a “what can you do?” look, then reveals he made quads by having the jack of spades beneath.
Jack Dawson (Titanic)
In a pub in Southampton, Jack, his best friend Fabrizio, and two Swedes (Sven and Olaf) are playing five-card draw. The stakes are high as Fabrizio tells Jack that he bet everything they own. Olaf is not too pleased that Sven decided to bet their tickets for RMS Titanic. At showdown, Fabrizio and Olaf have nothing, Sven reveals two pair with Jack letting out a “uh oh”. Jack says “I’m sorry Fabrizio” before announcing he has a full house and celebrates that they will be going to America.
Barney Lincoln (Kaleidoscope)
In a no-limit five-card stud game, Barney opens the round of betting with high card king. On third street, Barney pairs his king and bets 1,000. The player on his left folds, mucking the Kc. Harry has a pair of tens and puts in a raise. On fourth street, the action heats up with Harry betting 10,000, and Barney check-raising for an additional 50,000. Fifth street brings two pair for Barney and trip tens for Harry. Harry takes a checkbook out of his pocket and writes down the sum of £250,000. Barney tanks for a minute before making the call. Barney chokes up while taking a drink as Harry flips over his face down card, revealing a full house. Barney then reveals his face down card, which is the last remaining king, making a better full house.
Bret Maverick (Maverick)
The final hand of the ‘All Rivers Draw Poker Championship’ occurs between the Commodore, Angel, and Maverick. At showdown, the dealer announces the Commodore is first to act. The Commodore states he has “two small pair” before revealing he has quads. Angel, nervous that Maverick has not yet looked at his final card, reveals a straight flush. Maverick noticed the dealer base dealing during the previous draw, asks Angel to deal him one card face down from the top of the deck. Maverick then opens up one card at a time showing: the 10s, J s, Qs, Ks. He picks up the final card, closes his eyes, and lets out a sigh when glancing at the card. Maverick finally tosses the ace of spades into the pot, winning $500,000 and leaving Angel and the Commodore in disbelief.
If you know of an epic slow roll that I have not included in this article, please let me know! (Email: [email protected] and @ManAllusion on Twitter).