Is it okay to steal a heads-up opponent’s blinds if they’re disconnected?
Richard Hawes, Black Belt Poker sponsored pro
If you’re playing for a living you’re massively reducing your hourly rate by waiting for anyone who has disconnected. If you’re two-tabling heads-up sit-and-gos then you can get one where someone is disconnected over in quick time and get another one running. By waiting you’re costing yourself money. Also, when the blinds are low a good player has a bigger edge than when they get high, so if you wait and wait and your opponent comes back when the average stack is small, then some of your edge has gone. I’ve been on both sides of the situation and whenever I’ve disconnected I’ve come back and my opponent has been mercilessly stealing my blinds. It’s never picking on someone personally, it’s just that it evens out over the long run.
That said, if you were playing another regular, or someone you play a lot and think they’d resist stealing your blinds if you lost your connection, then perhaps you could pay them the same courtesy. In that situation I’d just let my time bank run down. I’d also take more time at the end of a multi-table SNG where there’s more money at stake, but if it’s just one heads-up game then I’ll aim to get it over as fast as possible. When a player comes back after disconnecting you’ll get the occasional comment, but most players just accept it as part of the game.
David Tighe, heads-up SNG specialist
I think a lot of people tend to think it’s okay to steal a disconnected player’s blinds just because everyone else does it. That’s the standard line you’ll hear trotted out and no one really gives an explanation beyond that. But I don’t think it is okay. Imagine you were in a live tournament and your opponent wanted to go to the toilet. If the TD said, ‘No, only during the breaks,’ and he went anyway, I certainly wouldn’t raise and steal his blinds – I’d wait till he returned. Just because it’s online doesn’t make it different, but because it’s over the internet people don’t think of it as stealing, when in reality it is.
If your opponent has disconnected I think the proper etiquette is to time down every time you have the button and then raise. I raise about 80% of the time anyway so maybe I should fold the other 20%. I want to give my opponent as fair a chance as possible to get back into the game, especially if they’re bad.
Many sites have a rematch button now and you might get another game out of it if they can see you’ve been good enough to wait. In regards to how long I’ll give an opponent to come back, that obviously depends on the structure (turbo or non-turbo) but I think after somewhere around eight to ten minutes they’ve had long enough to reconnect. Also, by this point it’s likely their stack is going to be decimated.