Blind spot

How do you play in the blinds?

Why does everyone say that the blinds are losing positions?
It’s a mathematical fact based on tens of millions of hands that the small and big blinds are the biggest losing seats at the table (from analytical research provided by

The reason is mainly down to one thing – the fact that everyone gets to see what you do before you act. There’s also a second reason – the ego factor. This is where you don’t like giving up ‘your’ blinds in the belief that other players are bullying and stealing from you.

The combination makes it a losing proposition. Once you’ve put your blind in it’s easy to feel obligated to play the pot. You shouldn’t – it’s not your money any more; it’s payment for the privilege of being dealt in!

Is it important to try and defend your big blind from a late position raiser?
It’s very difficult until you get a feel for your opponents. I like to play quite passively in the blinds early on in a tournament and will never defend [with sub-standard hands]. But once the blinds reach a point where they’re worth something I’ll have built up a table image of giving up my blinds quite readily – that’s when I’m ready to make a stand with a hand that has potential.

If you give away all your blinds for the first two or three levels, a successful check-raise against a continuation bettor on level four will get you all those chips back with interest. You only have to win one hand like that rather than 15 smaller pots.

Should you ever limp in from the small blind when the action is folded to you?
There’s an argument for just flat-calling when you’re the small blind and you’ve got a big hand, because my honest belief is that you shouldn’t raise from the small blind. If you get called you’re stuck out of position, and if you’re not called you only pick up the blinds.

The risk is greater than the reward. When you just flat-call you want to send out danger signals. It will take them at least two extra bets to try and take you off your hand, but as you’re only limping with hands that you’ll call a raise with that’s not a problem. On the other hand, if you’ve got a hand that you’d like to play but can’t afford a raise, then you shouldn’t put anything in.

Don’t call with hands like 5-6, J-3 and Q-4 because it’s only half a blind to play – it’ll end up crippling you if you catch a piece against someone slow-playing.

How much of a disadvantage are you at when you play from the blinds?
It’s a huge disadvantage to play from the blinds if someone has come in raising. When you just call from the blinds it’s because you think you’re behind. You may as well say, ‘I’m looking to hit.’ And what do you need to hit that puts you in front? If you call with 8-9 you probably have to hit two Eights, two Nines, an Eight and a Nine or an open-ended straight draw to give yourself a chance. And if you do get the straight draw you might be drawing to the low end anyway.

In most situations you should either raise or pass, otherwise you’re conceding position and control of the pot – and that’s not a winning proposition.

At what point do you need to say enough is enough?
There are times that you don’t have a choice and you just have to shove with any two cards. If you’re in the big blind with a little over 10 big blinds, what are you waiting for? If it’s a late position raise, which could often be just a steal, any two cards are probably worth gambling with, otherwise you’re giving up that big blind and probably the small blind after.

It’s important to make a stand by trying to push that raiser off their hand and maybe double-up if you’re called. If you’re down to 10 big blinds and the action is folded around to you on the small blind you need to push with any hand – just move all-in. It’s very hard for the big blind to call, and those blinds that you’ve picked up will increase your stack by a tangible 10 percent or more, giving you another orbit to find a hand.

You can even do it without looking if you’re worried that your opponent will be able to pick up on your weakness.

If you flop a monster against an aggressive player, when should you lead out at the flop and when should you trap with a check-raise?
Say you hit two-pair with 6-7 on an A-6-7 flop in the early levels when the blinds are low, you should probably come out betting. In this case, you’re hoping that the other player has hit an Ace and will re-raise you.

Another example is if you call with 6-6 and the flop comes 6-Q-9; you’ve got a strong hand and you’re probably ahead. As a result the temptation is to check and slow-play because you don’t want to scare anybody off.

But if you don’t bet you’re giving away a free card when you should be trying to build a pot. If the next card is a 10, and you bet and get raised, you don’t know if they were slow-playing a bigger set or have just made a straight on the turn.

You just don’t know where you are in the hand, so you have to come out betting on the flop.

Marc Goodwin is the poker ambassador for MANSION – – where he plays under the screenname ‘Mr Pink’.

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