How to Steal Blinds in Poker Pre-flop
Stealing blinds are often attempted by a player seated in a late position which raises pre-flop, thereby trying to induce the small and big blinds to fold their hands. It’s an often effective strategy because the players forced to post blinds will be holding two random cards that are much more times than not less than playable starting hands. Also, the blind posters are required to act first during the rest of the hand if they do choose to call the pre-flop raise, which puts them at a distinct disadvantage.
Blind stealing is an integral part of tournament play. When running low on chips, waiting for a premium hand is not always the best option. When in late position and given the opportunity to steal the blinds if nobody acting in front of you has bet before your turn to act, it is often beneficial to take a shot at stealing the blinds to accumulate more chips.
On the other hand, should you find yourself with a huge stack, you can also take an aggressive approach and dominate the small and big blinds with bets that won’t dent your stack to a great extent. Keep in mind that the beginning of tournaments is not the best time to make blind stealing attempts due to the low amount of the blinds.
In cash game action, the preflop are typically small in comparison to stack sizes. For this reason, blind stealing is not as beneficial or profitable as it can be in multi-tournament or Sit N Go games. Generally, you are better off playing only the best hands and avoiding a lot of blind stealing attempts with marginal or mediocre hands.
Take Advantage of Tight Players
However, if you happen to notice very tight players in the blinds who are known to fold anything but premium hands, then it is sometimes a good idea to exploit their tight style of play by pre-flop raising in late position in the right situations.
Put Pressure on Blinds
Another consideration should be the likelihood of you being able to outplay your opponents seated in the blinds on later rounds of betting if they do happen to call your raise. Remember, you will act last in all rounds post-flop, giving you an advantage.
Sometimes you will be seated in the blinds and will be confronted with a situation where other players will attempt to steal your blinds. How should you defend yourself against such attacks on your posted money? Well, its best to have the mindset that once you do post the blind, the money is part of the pot and is no longer yours.
Some players with fragile egos take offense to players trying to blind steal. They take it as a personal attack. For this reason, many inexperienced players will attempt to defend their blinds much too often, which typically results in losing a great deal of cash or chips.
Defending Your Blind
There are situations when you should defend your blind, such as being short-stacked in a tournament where the blinds and antes are escalating rapidly, and a lack of defending your blind would mean soon being blinded right out of the tournament and watching the remainder of the event from the rail.
That is a prime example in which almost any hole cards should be played in hopes of doubling up and staying alive. Or, another situation is when you know that the blind stealer is a very loose and aggressive player who makes a habit of raising pre-flop with marginal hands.
Should you have a good or sometimes even mediocre hand yourself on such occasions, a re-raise is sometimes to push the loose bluffer off the pot and to give you the initiative in hand. But do keep in mind that you will be acting first in subsequent rounds.
Re-raising or re-stealing is a whole other element to the game. It can be a very effective way to stop players from raising your blinds. In future hands, they may be much more hesitant to raise pre-flop if they know that you are capable of coming over the top with a re-raise. However, unless you are holding a monster hand yourself, re-stealing should be attempted only against an opponent that is known to be raising with less than quality hands and is certain to fold to your re-raise.
So in most cash games, it’s often more prudent to let your blind go than to defend it if your hand is not up to par. In tournaments, it depends on a great deal on the situation and the playing style of your opponent who is trying to steal. What you want to avoid is digging a deeper hole by playing a hand that is not considered quality, to begin with.
Stealing blinds depend on the amount of the blinds in proportion to stack sizes. It is less effective when blinds are small because you are risking too much to win very little, which is why blind stealing is less of a factor in cash games than tournaments.
Usually a bad play to make when confronted with a blind steal attempt is to call the raise. You should either fold or re-raise. A call would put more cash or chips into the pot, and your opponent normally has the advantage with a better position. When in doubt, play to your hand’s strength. Fold the weak hands and re-steal or re-raise with the strong ones.
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