Six Top Tips for Playing From the Blinds

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1. Why does everyone say that the blinds are losing positions?

It’s a mathematical fact based on hundreds of millions of hands that the small and big blinds are the biggest losing seats at the table. The reason is mainly down to one thing – the fact that everyone gets to see what you do before you act. There’s also a second reason – the ego factor. This is where you don’t like giving up ‘your’ blinds in the belief that other players are bullying and stealing from you. The combination makes it a losing proposition. Once you’ve put your blind in it’s easy to feel obligated to play the pot. You shouldn’t – it’s not your money any more; it’s payment for the privilege of being dealt in!

2. How much of a disadvantage are you at when you play from the blinds?

It’s a huge disadvantage to play from the blinds if someone has come in raising. When you just call from the blinds it’s because you think you’re behind. You may as well say, ‘I’m looking to hit.’ And what do you need to hit that puts you in front? If you call with 8-9 you probably have to hit two Eights, two Nines, an Eight and a Nine or an open-ended straight draw to give yourself a chance. And if you do get the straight draw you might be drawing to the low end anyway. In most situations you should either raise or pass, otherwise you’re conceding position and control of the pot – and that’s not a winning proposition.

3. Should you ever limp in from the small blind when the action is folded to you?

You need a decent hand to limp with as you’ll be playing the rest of the hand out of position. There’s an argument for just calling when you’re the small blind and you’ve got a big hand too as the big blind may well raise. Don’t call with hands like J-3 and Q-4 because you’ve already got something in the pot and you can get in for a discount – it could end up crippling you and it will definitely lead to tough decisions on the flop.

4. Is it important to try and defend your big blind from a late position raiser?

It’s very difficult until you get a feel for your opponents. It’s often not worth defending in the early stages unless you’ve got a hand that could catch a good flop. Once the blinds are higher you’ll have built up a tight image and your defends are more likely to be seen as having substance.

5. At what point do you need to say enough is enough?

There are times that you don’t have a choice and you just have to shove with any two cards. If you’re in the big blind with a little over 10 big blinds, what are you waiting for? If it’s a late position raise, which could often be just a steal, any two cards are probably worth gambling with, otherwise you’re giving up that big blind and probably the small blind after. It’s important to make a stand by trying to push that raiser off their hand and maybe double-up if you’re called. So, if you’re down to 10 big blinds and the action is folded around to you on the small blind you need to push with any hand – just move all-in. It’s very hard for the big blind to call, and those blinds that you’ve picked up will increase your stack by a tangible 10% or more, giving you another orbit to find a hand. You can even do it without looking if you’re worried that your opponent will be able to pick up on your weakness.

6. If you flop a monster against an aggressive player, when should you lead out at the flop and when should you trap with a check-raise?

Say you hit two-pair with 6-7 on an A-6-7 flop in the early levels when the blinds are low, you should probably come out betting. In this case, you’re hoping that the other player has hit an Ace and will re-raise you. Another example is if you call with 6-6 and the flop comes 6-Q-9. You’ve got a strong hand and there’s every likelihood the original raiser will c-bet if you check to him. You can then call and check again, or check-raise, although this gives away the strength of your hand. All of these situations are player specific. If you know the aggressive player will barrel all three streets then give him enough rope to hang himself.

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