Hone your poker skills to win more money in the blinds
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Playing the blinds in poker can make or break your day. Over the course of any game, blinds will be a loser in the long term, since you’re committed to bet whether or not you participate in the hand.
However, there are ways to create a blind strategy to take advantage of every edge – regardless of how small it is. Paying attention to the position and players’ stacks, use the blinds to tip the scales in your favor and stay one step ahead of the competition.
When in the small blind, open-raising on a wide range of hands will allow you to grab more dead money more often. There is a common habit among many players to over-fold when in the big blind, which you can use to steal the pot. By taking the hand pre-flop, you are able to rake in the one big blind, as well as the half big blind that you committed, as well.
If you plan on stealing from the small blind, try to do so with a larger raise than what is seen from the other positions. If you don’t, you offer your opponent the possibility to call, which will leave you in a very weak position. Typically, raising around three big blinds is the norm; if you go any smaller, the big blind has a strong incentive to call your bet.
As with all strategies, this one has to be weighed against the competition at the table. If you find that the big blind is responding to your gamble, you will need to adjust your game and lower the amount of times you try to steal the pot.
Along those same lines, consider your possibilities when sitting in the big blind seat. Since the norm is to over-fold in the big blind, be prepared to resist the urge and get ready to fight. Be alert and know how to respond in post-flop scenarios – if you’re passive or pay poorly, your competition will pick up on this and you will be caught in the small blind trap mentioned above.
This doesn’t mean that you need to set out trying to win every pot. It means that you have to gauge your pre-flop play with aggressive post-flop bets in order to defend a range of hands. These hands may have less equity, but the goal is to increase your stack – not just win a huge pot in a single hand.
Don’t be a donk when playing from the blind (better yet, don’t be a donk). A donk bet refers to a situation when the pre-flop caller leads into an aggressive pre-flop leader. Many weak players employ this strategy when they have been able to connect on the board and try to bet their hand for protection. However, donk-betting can produce more problems than results.
The pre-flop caller automatically has a range disadvantage and this is made worse through a donk bet. It’s almost a guarantee that the pre-flop caller’s range won’t include a very strong hand, or a larger pre-flop bet would have been made. This means that a donk bet is an almost obvious tell that the donk is betting with a weaker range into a stronger range, giving the aggressor an advantage.
A donk bet is also virtually impossible to effectively balance. Leading out with a value hand results in a weaker checking range. When a player is out of position, it becomes much more difficult to try to balance multiple ranges and this will lead to an improper execution – and the loss of the pot.
To counter the imbalance, checking value hands makes more sense. This allows the player to protect the check range and prevents the opponent from applying pressure when following a check.
Another blind strategy that has worked in a wide range of scenarios is the aggressive check-raise. It has several advantages over check-calling and can help you win more pots while keeping you from playing too passively after the flop is laid out.
Check-raising will force opponents holding weak hands or bluffs to fold. It will also force opponents who are check-betting with a wide-ranging hand into a figurative corner, leading them to give up more chips than they are prepared to turn over. In addition, check-raising will force many opponents, even those with decent value-bet range, to adjust their game to play as though they are chasing a bluff. In other words, it weakens their confidence and creates doubt in their view of their position.
The blinds can be your best friend or your worst enemy – sometimes both in the same game. Learn how to apply some simple strategies based on opponents’ reactions to early hands and keep mental notes to steal chips whenever possible. Before you realize it, you’ll be deep into the game with everyone else scrambling to stay afloat.