Thursday, May 13, 2010

How to Play From the Small Blind in Limit Poker

How to Play From the Small Blind in Limit Poker

self-applied blindfoldImage by CrazyFast via Flickr

My sense is that poker players need a lot of help when it comes to blind play, especially small blind play. The small blind is in for 1/2 a bet usually, and will feel the urge to "defend" his chips.

I want to begin with one of the most frequent situations and how you should handle it. The situation is when you are in the small blind and a player in late position is first into the pot and raises. What should you do?

Here is what I ask myself:

1. Is it a steal raise or an authentic raise?

To help you decide if it is a steal raise or not, you need to identify how that opponent plays. If he is an aggressive player, a raise from the button and cut-off are more likely to be a raise to steal the blinds.

Of course, if the player is tight or predictable, then be more inclined to give him credit for a real hand. If it is an authentic hand, it is right to fold all but your premium holdings.

2. If you believe it is a steal raise, what then?

If your hand is good, you may want to call the raise to see the flop. This is a mistake.

If your hand is good enough to call, you should re-raise almost all of the time. The main reason for a re-raise is that you don't want to give the big blind the pot odds to call. If you call, it will cost him one bet to win five bets. If you re-raise, now it will cost him at least two bets to win six bets.

When you get the BB to fold, you create dead money in the pot and improve your chances of winning the hand.

3. With which hands should you re-raise?

I don't like to provide precise hands here since everyone's comfort level is different. However, try to set up a range of hands you want to re-raise the steal raiser. No, it is not any two cards. You don't want to re-raise with junk.

One way to begin setting up a range of re-raisin hands is to do the following:

Assume the steal raiser had just called instead of raising.
What would you do with your hand?
If you would have called or raised, then re-raise your opponent.

Sometimes you are going to be right in identifying a steal raise and sometimes you will be wrong. That's poker. But, don't fold all of the time. Don't re-raise all of the time. And almost never, ever call.

I hope this helps and if there is interest I will get into other situations for small blind play.
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