While the game of poker has been around for centuries, it has exploded in popularity in recent years. There are several reasons for this. First, poker is a relatively simple game to learn. While there are many different variants, the basic rules can be learned quickly. Second, poker is a very social game. It is often played in groups, allowing people to interact and have fun. Third, poker is a very adaptable game. It can be played online or in person, with or without money at stake. Fourth, poker is a very exciting game. The suspense and thrill of waiting for the next card can be addictive. Finally, poker is very popular because it allows players to win real money. While many people play for fun, others see poker as a way to make a profit. Whatever the reason, it is clear that poker is here to stay.
While the basic rules of poker are easy to grasp, there is endless strategic depth. Poker, particularly Texas Holdem, is renowned for taking minutes to learn but a lifetime to master. There is always something new to learn, no matter how good you are. One thing many beginners struggle with is playing from the blinds. The forced bets and positional disadvantage mess up their game plans, and many entirely choose to give up on playing from the blinds. That is not a good idea, as competent poker players know that you must be adaptable to whatever position you’re playing. If you struggle with playing from the blinds, this poker guide will give you an in-depth look at the strategy and tactics necessary to succeed.
Why play from the blinds?
The reason you have to learn how to play from the blinds is simple: If you always choose to fold, you will consistently lose money over time. One big blind doesn’t sound like much individually, but it definitely adds up throughout many games. This is the same for both cash games and tournaments. In tournaments, blinds increase over time, so later on, you cannot afford to give up your blinds without hesitation. In cash games, while the blinds are static, the game is faster-paced, particularly in 6-max. That means you will play from the blinds very often, so it’s still critical to learn how to do that.
Why don’t people play from the blinds?
Many beginners refuse to play from the blinds, and that is understandable. They are the worst positions in poker for two main reasons. First, the blinds have to pay money before seeing any cards, which puts them at a monetary disadvantage. Second, despite being the last to act pre-flop, they are the first and second to act post-flop. That puts them at a major positional disadvantage, and as we all know, position is key in poker. Acting last gives you a lot of information to work with, as you get to see what all the other players do before making your move. Likewise, acting first is horrible, as you have no information to work with, and everyone can react to your action. The blinds must act first for three betting rounds, so playing from them is incredibly challenging.
Blind strategy: Defending
Most poker players think that the big blind is a difficult position to play from, and they’re not wrong. However, many players don’t realize that you can defend your big blind more often than you think. This is because you already have money in the pot, meaning you have to call a smaller amount and thus have better odds. You can theoretically call most raises with a wide variety of hands, but you must remember that even if the odds look good, you need to account for your positional disadvantage post-flop. You must find a balance between defending your blinds and folding, and this changes depending on the game, bet size, etc.
Blind strategy: Donk betting
A donk bet is when you bet from an early position before the pre-flop aggressor has a chance to make a continuation bet. The pre-flop aggressor is the player who made the last aggressive action pre-flop, and a continuation bet is a common tactic where they bet again on the flop. Most of the time, donk bettors are in the blinds as they act first pre-flop. Donk betting is usually considered a mistake, as it is unwise to bet so early against a player who represented a strong hand pre-flop. However, it does have niche uses, like denying equity from your opponent. The pre-flop aggressor is likelier to have high-ranked cards like AK and AA than the blind, who can have many low-ranked suited connectors like 67s. If the board state favors your range of hands more than it does the pre-flop aggressor’s, a donk bet could potentially intimidate them into giving up the pot, and it helps stop them from checking and seeing the following cards for free.
Blind strategy: Check-raising
Check-raising is a powerful strategy in poker, especially as a response to continuation bets. Continuation betting is so prevalent that many players do it without connecting with the flop. To counter this, you can check-raise from an early position, like the blinds. Checking signals weakness, and that prompts the aggressor to bet. Raising that bet can catch your opponents off-guard and put you in a good spot to win the pot outright. Check-raising is a vital tactic you should consider when in an early position like the blinds.
Where to play if you dislike physical tells
Playing from the blinds is a significant part of poker, which you should master. We hope this article taught you the unwritten poker rules and strategy you need to succeed from the blinds. To practice your skills, sign up at GGPoker, the world’s largest poker room, where you can find various poker games to suit your needs.