Playing the Blinds
Without the blinds, in Texas Hold’Em, you could always manage to finish 2nd in every tournament you played in. Why? Because you’d never have to play a hand and you could just play your entry fee and come back some hours later to collect your winnings.
Blinds usually start at around the 10/25 or 25/50 mark, depending on your starting chips and, of course the organiser. The SMALL BLIND would equate to the smaller of the blind values (10 or 25) whereas the BIG BLIND would equate to the higher value (25 or 50).
Over time these blinds increase. This serves a number of purposes. It increases the speed in which players depart from the tournament and ensures that tournaments finish in a timely manner and don’t go on for days. Blinds continue to increase until the objective of the tournament has been met and that is…there is a WINNER!
It’s an interesting statistic that with a 1500 starting level of chips, blinds at 10/20 and 15 minute increases in blinds then the ‘field’ will decrease in the first hour of play by 50%.
Playing the blinds is challenging regardless of what level hold ’em game you are playing. Since you are forced to make your initial bet before you see your cards you will very often be playing non-premium hands before the flop, and many times you’ll have to make a decision about whether or not to continue in the face of one or more raises.
How you play the blinds can often be the difference between winning or losing and come with some big disadvantages.
- You’ve made a bet without seeing your cards. That means that 70 percent of the time you’re going to be looking at what would normally be considered a junk hand like .
- You are in the worst possible positions for the rest of the betting rounds. If luck favoured you and you flopped a monster hand it is going to be challenging to maximize the size of the pot.
As blinds increase in value they become more of a target for those in late position. After all there’s not a great deal you can do if some ones 10xBB and you’re looking down at Q-7 off suit except pass. Not being able to play the binds correctly can be a sure way to the poor house.
Here’s some advice for playing the blinds…
- When faced with a raise from a player not in the blinds?
In early play (with blinds at or below the 100/200 mark) its not really worth getting involved with anything except premium hands. Whether or not the raiser is bluffing might be open to debate but you’re in a bad position throughout the hand. Wait for sunnier days.
- When faced with no raise. You flop top pair?
As you’re first to play its better to bet your hand. With top pair you can afford to be aggressive at this point. If you do get callers then its probably because they don’t believe you have a hand so continue to bet any cchance you get unless there is a re-raise at which point you may wish to take a step back and review your situation.
- When faced with no raise but a few callers. You hold AA or KK?
Its all-in time! There’s no point trying to second guess what your opponents might or might not do to your actions. Being on the blinds means that your hand is fairly well disguised so there’s no need to play smart here. Get your chips in!
- When faced with no raise but a few callers. You hold QQ, JJ or TT?
You need to be aggressive here. These are good starting hands but may not carry much weight over a 5 card flop (especially JJ & TT). Raise at least 5xBB value and see what happens. You must also bet the flop nomatter what comes. There may be players with KQ or KJ and the sight of an Ace and you betting will cool them off fairly quickly.
- When faced with no raise but a few callers. You hold a non-premium hand?
Just check and see the flop. If it looks great then check again and attempt a re-raise. If it looks like you’re going to get action then make sure you stand a good chance of winning. Remember…you’re ALWAYS going to be first to act so make sure your game plan is intact.
- When faced with no raise and no callers. You hold rags.
I’m of the opinion that its not worth going to war over blinds unless you see them as important to your stack. Give them up easily rather than lose more chips chasing lost causes, making steal attempts or attempting bluffs.
Most of the time you will be folding your blinds, either before the flop in response to raises or after the flop in response to having a marginal (or worse) hand.
Field – Number of players in any given tournament
Steal attempt – Betting without have ANYTHING to back up the bet with
Rags – Cards that looks, to all intents and purposes, are of no use to anyone
Need To Know Block:
- ALWAYS go all-in with AA & KK on the blinds
- NEVER attempt to bluff from the blinds
- Play premium hands aggressively from the blinds
- Give up your blinds easily when required to do so
Next week’s article is about bluffing