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Part V: Playing Correctly from the Big and Small Blinds

Author's Note: This article is part of a larger course for new players. Course links are provided at the bottom of this page.

I've already covered appropriate hole card selection from the SB and BB in previous sections, however due to the unique character of the Small and Big Blind positions, its such a common trouble spot for novice players, that I wanted to spend some extra time focusing on this issue exclusively.

A big mistake new players make is “defending” their blinds when they have mediocre hands and are raised pre-flop. The Big Blind is the second worst position at the table, so if you are going to call a raise it is necessary to have an excellent top ranked hand, under normal circumstances. Simply because you already have money on the table doesn't make it profitable to call a pre-flop raise, but that is the tendency of all new players. Get used to folding your Big Blind to pre-flop raises from superior positions early in your playing career.

Occasionally you pick up on the fact that one particular person, most likely in a limit cash game, is picking on your Big Blind. Every time the BB comes to you he raises pre-flop. What you need to do in this situation is similar to what you needed to do to combat a “maniac”, and that is to wait until you have a fairly superior hand, something like A,10, a hand which you would otherwise fold to a raise from a normal player from this position, and then re-raise the bully.

If you put up with the same person stealing your blind over and over again indefinitely its going to affect your table image in a negative way, and its going to amount to losses. So you need to wait until you have the cards, and then put the bully in his place. But don't try to do that with a call-you need an aggressive act to let him know that you are not going to stand for it. Once you've looked him up successfully once or twice at most in that way, believe me, he will stop.

The big mistake players make from the Small Blind position is when the pot is unraised, and they think that since they already have half a bet on the table, and its only going to cost them half a bet more to call, that its alright to complete the small blind with poor or mediocre hands. This is incorrect.

Even when a pot is unraised you should fold with poor or mediocre hands from the small blind position. Again, you need K,Q suited, at the very minimum, at a non-aggressive table, to complete the small blind.

First of all, the small blind is the worst table position to be in. Secondly, and this is the real problem, playing poor or mediocre hands from this position like 7,10 suited, is just going to get you beat by a call from a later position with A,7 off suit. The 7 will hit the flop, you'll call the bettor, and you'll be out-kicked for a cost of 5 bets, whereas it only costs you 1/2 a bet to fold the hand.

If raised to on the SB you should have at least A,K to call a single raise. In the case where there are multiple pre-flop raises you should have one of the top 4 hands, pocket Jacks through Aces, and in some cases I would even throw away the Jacks and Queens. It depends on the table and who is doing the raising and the re-raising. If its being done by normal players then it indicates the likely presence of AA or KK. If its being done by players who tend to raise on a lot of lesser hands, then you should be able to get in with the best of it with Jacks and Queens.

The following links for this poker course are listed sequentially. Beginners may want to go through in the order in which they are listed to get the whole rundown. More advanced players may want to skip around to the parts which hold interest for them.

Poker


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