Playing the poker blinds is difficult for many beginning poker players. What makes the poker blinds dangerous is that most people don’t realize they’re playing them poorly. If you don’t know you have a problem, you can’t fix the problem.
While I will sometimes do research to make sure I have information correct, the vast majority of my articles on poker strategy are straight from my head. In my opinion, that’s a good thing. It’s a good thing because I’m not giving you recycled information on poker strategy. I’m basing everything I write, including poker tips, on my own poker experience. And that experience is where our poker rules for winning comes from.
Poker Pro vs Poker Coach
To this point, I had a friend send me a message yesterday. He wrote: ‘All of these poker pros coach other people, but if they’re always coaching other people, they can’t be on the road playing. You are the only poker pro I know who is in the trenches, traveling around the country and playing in all kinds of poker games and poker tournaments.’
That was an incredible compliment. He’s right and he’s wrong, though. Was right in the sense that most poker pros go the poker coaching route instead of playing in poker games all over the country and writing about poker tips on poker blinds and stuff like that.
He’s wrong because there are hundreds, if not thousands, of poker pros who travel to play poker. They might not be people who write and coach, but they’re most definitely out there. I see them all over the place.
I probably have a wider geographic reach than most people, but that has nothing to do with poker. That has to do with my adventurous nature. I remember reading something a long time ago. Don’t know where I read it, but I remember it sticking with me: ‘Very few people have the courage to break free from societal norms and truly live.’
I was the epitome of a societal norm for many years, but something bad happened. At this point, I have to wonder if that something bad was actually something good. Maybe, maybe not. Time will tell.
How to Effectively Play Out of the Poker Blinds
Getting to deep, am I? My apologies. As you know, sometimes I go where my mind takes me, like we’re having a conversation. Getting back to poker and poker blinds, what I’m trying to tell you is that some poker pros won’t agree with what I’m about to write.
However, a lot of poker pros either play by the book or only play in one location. In regards to the latter, there are different styles of play everywhere. That’s for real! I’m not just writing that. What you see in Tunica is not what you see in Cherokee, and what you see in Cherokee is not what you see in Choctaw, Coconut Creek, Las Vegas, or St, Maarten. You must be able to adapt to different playing styles.
My ultimate point before writing about poker blinds is that everything you read below is based on experience, not something I read in a book or watched on YouTube. This is the real thing.
I’m not saying I play my poker blinds correctly every time. I’m sure I make mistakes. Actually, I know I make mistakes. At the same time, I seem to do very well against marginal and soft fields in Texas Hold’em poker tournaments. I used to do well against strong fields but I went into a slump.
However, since I have climbed out of that slump, I haven’t played against any strong fields. I look forward to the Main Event for RunGood Bossier City (as well as all other events).
Now let’s get to those poker blinds and how to play them, at least from my perspective.
Poker Blinds: Playing the Small Blind
In my opinion, the small blind is the most misplayed position on the table. I can sum it up pretty easily for you…
Average Poker Player In Small Blind: I have 63-off. A TAG player in the cutoff just raised to a 600 on a 200 big blind. I’m already in for 100, so I might as well call.
That is a freaking disaster! Do you know how many mistakes that player just made? Let’s take a look…
#1. When you’re in the small blind, you’re not ‘in for 100,’ or whatever amount applies at that time. The poker blinds are fees you pay once per orbit. You didn’t commit anything on your own accord. When you start viewing the small blind as a necessary fee once per orbit, you’re going to begin feeling less attached to the small blind and you’re going to start making better decisions.
#2. Even if this player was ‘in for 100,’ that’s 500 more chips. If you don’t like you’re hand for 100, then you shouldn’t like it for 600!
#3. If the player in the cutoff is a TAG player, that means they’re a Tight Aggressive player. If they’re a Tight Aggressive player, then it’s pretty much impossible that they’re raising with weaker than 63o in that spot.
#4. You’re out of position post-flop! Hello!!! Does anyone else not see this? I can’t tell you how many times I see people call from the small blind with terrible hands. This includes some poker pros. I don’t know what books they’re reading, but I’m glad I’m not reading them.
#5. If this dude hits top pair, do you really think he’s going to have his opponent outkicked?
#6. If this dude flops a straight draw, he’s potentially going to have to invest a ton of chips to get a fold. Or he’s going to have to get there. I don’t like his odds.
#7. If he ends up hitting a flush with four of the same suit on the board by the river, he’s likely going to bet/call. How many chips will he potentially lose in that scenario if his opponent has a higher flush, which will only require one card of that suit?
#8. Did you notice the blind level? In Texas Hold’em poker tournaments, you don’t want to take these kinds of risks early. It’s an excellent way to find yourself firing another bullet.
#9. He’s going to look like a fish to any smart poker player.
#10. He’s out of position!
I sometimes ask myself what poker planet I live on when I see poker pros flatting with weak poker hands from the small blind. I must be missing something, but I’m glad I’m missing it. Whoever is teaching this nonsense is doing me a favor. Please continue leading the poker sheep to slaughter, Mr. Poker Coach.
Everything is Situational
There are situations where you want to flat from the small blind. This is when you have a hand with at least some kind of realistic potential and you’re getting pot odds to call. However, I would lean toward fold with hands like QJ, JT, and KT. If there was a raise and a bunch of callers to you in the small blind, then you’re very likely being dominated by someone in the hand, which means you’re outkicked.
I’m more likely to call with a hand like 87-suited in that scenario because it’s less likely that I’m being outkicked, and it’s much less likely that another player has my outs. Most people play high cards. If all those high cards are being held, then you have a better shot at hitting the flop. This doesn’t happen all the time, but it’s something you might want to attempt from time to time.
Raising in the Small Blind
If you’re in the small blind, someone raised, there are several callers, and you have AJo or better, I would highly recommend three-betting. And I highly recommend doing it with force. By putting in a big raise, you accomplish two things…
One, you find out how much the original raiser likes his hand. When he four-bets you, you’re behind and I recommend folding. If he flats, you’re likely ahead, but there is an outside chance it’s middle pair (most people flat with middle pair unless in late position). If he folds, he was trying something stupid.
Two, you eliminate all the nonsense hands, as in the players who flatted the original raise. If one of these people call, they’re only calling because they feel like they’re already committed. You’re probably ahead.
I recommend c-betting regardless of what hits the flop, even if it’s a LAG player. If they know that you know that they’re a LAG player and you still c-bet, they will likely fold due to your pre-flop raise. Understanding how your opponents view you is part of our poker rules for winning.
Poker Blinds: Playing the Big Blind
This is a completely different kind of situation. It really shouldn’t be because the big blind is also a fee. However, perception plays a big role when you’re in the big blind.
If you’re viewed as someone who doesn’t ‘defend their big blind,’ then it’s going to impact you on other hands because your opponents will view you as passive and attack you more often. This can be a good thing if you know what you’re doing.
In fact, if you’re savvy, you can under-defend your big blind (you’re out of position anyway) in order to appear passive so your opponents will attack on other poker hands with bigger pots. You can then use your image to your advantage.
If you hit the flop on one of those other poker hands, easy stuff. But even if you miss and you’re viewed as passive, your opponents will think that you would only bet with strength. What they don’t know is that you’re betting with air, but your image allowed you to get the bluff through. As long as you space these plays out and time them correctly, you can get away with a lot by taking this approach.
I wouldn’t recommend this approach in poker tournaments because it’s a bit more advanced and requires the complete elimination of Ego. A lot of people aren’t comfortable looking weak for prolonged periods of time in order to set up a bigger play down the road. They can’t deal with looking weak. If you can pull it off, great. If you don’t think you can pull it off, then be honest about it and let’s take a more traditional look at playing the big blind.
Defending Big Blind
If you don’t defend your big blind, it’s going to make you look passive and your opponents will put more pressure on you on other hands. Therefore, you might want to consider defending your big blind with marginal hands or better. If you have a premium hand and you were raised by someone in late position, that’s almost always a three-bet for you. The player in late position might have only been raising because they had position.
If it’s a TAG player, then they’re more likely to have a real hand. If your three-bet is called, then you’re going to have to outplay your opponent post-flop based on their tendencies (and based on the cards).
I would usually bet out on the flop in this situation because betting into someone signifies strength. Your opponent won’t think you have the guts to do that unless you hold real strength. Therefore, you don’t need true strength. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: It’s not just about reading your opponents, it’s about knowing how your opponents read you.
Playing the small blind should be relatively easy because you should always lead toward fold. There are exceptions, which are premium hands and situations where your hand is likely different than everyone else’s hand, which means your outs haven’t been removed.
Playing the big blind is more based on perception than reality. It’s more about the message you’re sending to your opponents.
You can send a fake signal (advanced), defend your big blind with marginal poker hands or better (standard and will let your opponents not to mess with you), or fold more often (passive but safe and will keep you out of trouble). The risk with the latter option is that it leads to your opponents putting pressure on you on other hands and it being effective.
♠ pokerjournal.org / Tyler Nals
Poker Blinds – FAQs
A: Poker blinds include the small and big blind. They are forced bets/fees you are required to pay once per orbit to help promote action.
A: Yes. In the big blind you are last to act pre-flop, giving you a lot of information and you are allowed to raise in the big blind.
A: The small blind only has to match the big blind if it’s a call. Other options are to fold or raise.
A: The small blind is a bad position because you’re going to be first to act on the flop, turn and river. Acting first is a disadvantage because you’re giving away information.
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