What is ‘In the Woods’?
‘In the woods’, or often ‘waiting in the woods’, is a poker phrase used to describe a particularly sneaky player who is trying to lure their opponents into a trap.
A player who is ‘in the woods’ is sitting on a great hand which may well win, but they are betting in a way which suggests their hand is far weaker. This can encourage higher bets from the table, and allows the player who has ‘waited in the woods’ to come forward and claim their win.
’In the Woods’ Explained
If a poker player is described as ‘in the woods’, this means they are holding back from play. It usually implies that one player has set a trap for the rest, and is laying in wait for their opponents. Other common versions of the phrase are ‘in the bushes’ and ‘in the weeds’. If a player manages to successfully stay ‘in the woods’ until the last or near last rounds of the game, they can boost the pot for themselves in the process.
To successfully pull off this strategy, a player must have a hand strong enough to win the game at the showdown. However, having a very strong hand can scare the rest of the table off if a player bets too strongly thereby limiting how much can be won from the game. In order to make the most of a strong hand, a player should opt to ‘wait in the woods’. This means downplaying that hand with low bets – checking where possible and calling at all other turns.
If successful, the other players will believe they have a better hand and will compete against each other to raise the pot. When it comes to the last betting round or the showdown, the player can ‘come out of the woods’ and enter a high bet for the final showdown – and hopefully taking away the boosted pot for their trouble.