Poker Strategy: The Small Blind - Basic Strategy Concepts

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If you have played poker long enough, you know that playing the small blind can be a slippery slope heading straight down to losing all your chips. It is considered one of the toughest positions to play and master, especially in No-Limit Hold’em poker.

The blinds are anyways difficult to post as they are forced bets that players have to post even before looking at their hole cards. Now, if you have mastered poker, you probably have a strategy to play small blind poker, but for all the newbies out there, this is a daunting task. So if you are an amateur and have been hunting for some tips on how to play from this position without bleeding all of your chips away, then read on.

So, let us discuss a few of the ways that you can approach this position and minimize your small blind related losses, to improve your rate of scoring pots!

1. Play conservatively

When playing from the position of the small blind, you must lean towards a tight conservative approach. When you are in this position, having already posted the small blind and someone raises it, you may feel that calling is the right way to go because it seems like a discount on the whole sum of the bet. But before rushing to grab this perceived discount, it is better to pause and think about what it would mean to call a raise in the pre-flop from this position.

It becomes a tricky play because if you raise from the small blind, you are just improving the pot odds of the big blind. You are inviting the big blind to stick around, increasing your opponents in the post-flop from one to two.

Even if you have a strong hand with an ace and a ten or something alike, getting involved form the small blind calling is not the best option. You can instead opt to re-raise which will put the big blind out of the competition, and you may just win the pot.

There is, however, an exception to this kind of play when the table folds around you, which sets a small blind versus big blind stand-off. In this case, you can choose to play medium to strong hands. Players with decent hands, prefer to call and not raise from the small blind position. This calling is intended to control the pot size when entering the post-flop when the small blind player will be out of position.

2. Don’t get defensive of your small blind  

The blind that you post from this position is usually 0.5 BB. While this may improve your pot odds a little, you shouldn’t turn it into a commitment to the pot. Keep your mind open when playing from the small blind. As we discussed earlier, you must almost always avoid calling from the small blind.

3. Keep an eye on the Big Blind

When playing from the small blind , your most formidable foe is the player playing the big blind. If you have an aggressive and strong player playing the big blind, it can soon turn into your worst nightmare. Especially in case of blind versus blind play, their betting, floating and three-betting becomes difficult to counter unless you are holding a monster.

In contrast to this kind of a player, if you are lucky enough to find yourself playing against a dimwit, sitting in the big blind position it can be an absolute breeze, from confidently stealing their chips to winning all the pots you can!

But what if you don’t find yourself against the latter? Well, then you should narrow your ranges and protect your chips that can bleed in marginal places.

4. Prepare a strategy to play against the Big Blind 

Playing against the big blind from the position of the small blind is very challenging. Do not underestimate the complexity of this play. This complexity arises from the fact that both of you have committed money to the pot forcefully. This means that the ranges played will be wider than usual.

You can assume two approaches that can make your play profitable.

  • The first approach that you can adopt is to raise or fold from the small blind. This is a simple strategy that increases your chance of winning the pot in the post-flop. This is an effective strategy to use at the lower limits.
  • The second approach that you can adopt is a mixed one. You can employ limp or fold, limp or call, or raise and fold. This is a relatively difficult strategy because effective use of it requires a great balancing act. It becomes difficult to use in the post-flop even if you successfully navigate the pre-flop round. However, it can be an effective strategy against the big blind players who respond to the limp in the wrong manner.

5. Have a strategy for tournament play

In tournaments, the antes make the limp a profitable strategy. Betting the absolute minimum can result in a great pay off because of the amazing price that you get on a call.

The small blind usually only need a twenty percent equity in games with antes, and in games, without antes, it climbs to thirty-three percent.

If you have a deep stack and a good limping range you can maintain your limp and keep your options open post-flop.

These are all a few of the ways that you can play from the small blind effectively. So if you are a novice, you are now armed with knowledge. Go ahead and use all of these ways to create your own unique strategy to play the small blind without bleeding your chips dry. To know more on how to play poker, visit our page and find many useful articles.

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