Playing from the blinds
Over the long run, you will lose more money from the blind positions than any other position at the table. There are two things working against you when playing in the blinds: you have to pay the blinds and you will act in early position through the rest of the hand. This double whammy makes it difficult to show a profit from the blinds.
In all likelihood, you will never make a lot of money from the blinds but that’s OK. Your current online poker win rate already includes the negative impact of the blinds. Your goal from here on out should be to minimize the amount of money you lose from the blinds and therefore increase your win rate. That does not mean folding every single time you pay the blinds, though. It means playing a smart, tight-aggressive game.
Playing from the Small Blind
The main thing to remember about the small blind is that you’re going to be in the worst position at the table after the flop is dealt. You might get to act second-to-last preflop but you’re going to be in early position for the rest of the hand. One positive thing is that it costs half price to see the flop in pots that aren’t raised.
If the pot is not raised, you can play a wider selection of hands from the small blind. The pot odds are usually enough that you can play a wide range of hands. You have to be careful after the flop, though, because you will often have mediocre hands while out of position. In these cases, a simple fit-or-fold strategy is the best.
You will want to significantly tighten up in pots that are raised preflop. The issue here is position. After the flop is dealt, you’ll be acting first on every street and will have a difficult time playing all but the strongest of your hands. You do not want to call raises from the small blind unless you have a great drawing hand and several other people have already called the raise.
You should also tighten up the types of hands you raise with from the small blind. Once again, the issue here is position. You can raise all sorts of hands on the button because you have the advantage of position. That is not the case from the small blind. When you’re in the small bind, you’re guaranteed to have a disadvantage of position.
Playing from the Big Blind
Play from the big blind is similar to play from the small blind. You’ll get a few free chances to see the flop but other than that, the two positions are basically the same. You still have to play a tight game from the big blind because you will be in early position after the flop is dealt.
You can play a pretty straightforward game from the big blind and do alright. In pots that are unraised, you’ll get a free peak at the flop. If you hit a lucky hand, that’s great. If not, make sure you don’t get attached to mediocre hands.
In raised pots, you’ll need to play a tight game to not lose money. The main problem here is position. You can’t call a bunch of raises from the big blind and expect to see a profit. It’s just too difficult to play marginal hands from out of position against aggressive players. Your most common play in a raised pot should be to fold. After that, it should be a re-raise. The least most common play should be to make calls. A raise or fold mentality works well here because if your hand is strong enough to call a raise, it should be strong enough for a 3-bet.
Defending the Blinds
Fixed limit players have to worry about defending the blinds more than no limit players. In no limit cash games, the blinds are small compared to the average stack size so no limit players really shouldn’t invest a lot of energy in defending their blinds. There are just so many other opportunities to make money in poker.
The only time I suggest you defend the blinds is when you have an opponent who tries to steal the blinds too often. An occasional 3-bet will scare him away and collect some nice pots for you. The purpose isn’t so much to defend the blinds as it is to take advantage of an opponent’s tendency.
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