Strategy For Playing Out of the Blinds

Learn a solid strategy for playing poker out of the blinds

Playing out of the blinds is always going to give you trouble. The very best poker players in the world lose money in the blinds in the long run. It is inevitable you do too.

Online poker players often use tracking software such as Hold’em Manager and Poker Tracker. This software imports hand histories from online poker sites and tabulates it. Do you use any tracking software? Check the column for money won and lost from the small and big blinds and I bet your bottom dollar that the figure is in the red.

Why Is Playing From The Blinds Difficult

It all comes down to the power of position. The small blind is the worst position at the table and the big blind the second-worst. Being first to act is a massive disadvantage because you don’t know how the other players will act. Compare this to being on the button where everyone has already acted in front of you. It should be easy to see why being in a later position is advantageous.

Secondly, both blinds have already invested money into the pot via the small and big blind. You’ll often be dealt complete rubbish hands that you have to fold to any resistance and lose that money. The blinds do occasionally receive good cards, but they do so in the worst possible positions.

Tips For Playing in the Small Blind

We have already ascertained the small blind is the worst position on the table. This means you should significantly tighten the range of hands you play from here. You need to counter your weak position with either hand strength or pot odds, preferably the former.

Typically, you want to come in with a raise or a re-raise when playing from the small blind. That is how strong your hands should be.

Feel free to see a flop with a wider range of hands when there is no raise and several opponents have limped. Hands such as suited connectors and small-to-middle pairs are prime for this scenario.

Remove the more speculative hands from your range when there has been a raise in front of you. Only play powerhouse hands if there is a re-raise at any point in front of you.

Tips For Playing in the Big Blind

Playing from the big blind is similar to the small blind in that you need to play tight. You have a little more wiggle room in the big blind because you have already invested a big blind. This often means you’ll have decent odds to call raises. While this is true, don’t just go flicking in the extra calling chips just for the sake of it. That is unless the raise is a min-raise from cutoff or button.

Tips For Defending Your Blinds

Defending their blinds too often is a major leak in recreational players’ games. They see a small raise, decide to come along for the ride, only to check-fold when the flop inevitably misses them. Even when the flop smacks them in the fact they don’t know what to do. Leading out seems super strong. As does check-raising, so they never get paid off enough to justify the times they bleed chips away.

You must learn to defend your blinds from late position raises otherwise you become a sitting duck. Opponents will target you relentlessly if you give up your blinds without a fight. Nobody wants to be in that spot.

Just let them steal your blinds, for the most part, when you have a weak hand. That said, weak hands are perfect for three-bet bluffing against the more aggressive stealers. There’s not much point re-stealing with semi-strong hands against talented loose-aggressive players as they could easily four-bet preflop and you’ll lose an even larger pot.

The best way to defend your blinds is to re-raise and take the initiative. This allows you to win the pot two ways. First, your opponent folds and you scoop the pot preflop. Secondly, your opponent calls and you take down the pot postflop with the betting initiative.

What About Blind Versus Blind Scenarios?

How a battle of the blinds pans out depends entirely on your opponent’s tendencies. Treat your small blind as the button if the action folds to you and the big blind folds a lot.

It is also worth testing the waters and seeing if the big blind will let you limp into pots.

Matthew Pitt

If it’s something you can play online for real money, chances are Matthew knows a bit about it. He’s been writing about slots, craps and poker for the better part of the last decade. He’s written for PokerNews, PartyPoker and many other respected online gambling websites during the last nine years.


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