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Steal the blinds

Article By: RuffPoker.com

It is a vital part of any quality poker player’s armoury. The ability to steal the blinds and steal pots. It is worth mentioning that ‘stealing’ is not the same as ‘bluffing’ because where bluffing is simply the art of lying, stealing considers more knowledge of the table, cards and position. When you have the ability to steal blinds you also take on an aggressive table image which makes people more passive against you.

Taking an example, you are in late position at a 10 seat ring game and are dealt 6/7 suited. The flop comes Q/Q/K. Everybody checks round to you. Meaning one of two things, either everybody is scared of the Q’s (and may be holding a K) or somebody is slow playing. In either case you should feel comfortable making a ‘feeler’ bet that is around 75% of the pot. A weak bet here and anybody holding a K will stay in and you don’t want that with 6/7.

At this point anybody who calls should be sat with Q/x, K/A, K/J, K/10 and if these were suited then you should have seen a raise pre-flop. However as you cannot be sure and as everyone has checked at the ‘scary’ flop you should make a stealer bet. With a board like this, even those holding a K cannot be sure they are winning, so it takes nerve for them to call. Of course this is very dangerous if they are slow playing you with a Q. To reiterate a small bet here and anybody with any piece of action will stay in, so your small bet with 6/7 is even worse than folding. You have very little chance of winning and are feeding the pot. Make it expensive for others to see another card, most people will fold. When you do get called you must be prepared to continue with the aggressive style after the turn. A weak check here and you give the game away, if you get check-raised you must be prepared to fold.

It is always worth looking to steal the blinds when you are in late position, when the table is passive or when there are only a couple of opponents in a hand. It is rarely worth stealing when you are in the blinds, have seen a lot of raising pre flop, when the table is loose/aggressive, and if there are lots of opponents in the hand.

To any good player, stealing the blinds is a key strategy in keeping their balance up. Why? Because the vast majority of the time in Texas holdem you are dealt marginal or worse hands. Think about it, how often do you get dealt pocket A/A – J/J, how often do you get suited picture connectors. More common is the ugly looking unsuited 4/8, 2/9, etc. Winning with these hands is a vital part of your strategy if you are going to make a profit. To do this, knowing your opponents is of the utmost importance. If you feel a player will fold at your aggression then try and pressure the blinds, even if you are sat in late position with 3/8 off suit. The fewer players in the pot, the more passive they are, by raising pre flop 3x or 4x the blind, chances are people won’t limp in. For example you are on the button or in the small blind and get dealt this 3/8 off suit. Everybody folds (maybe one limps in) and you are to act. If you know the big blind and this other player are passive, then making a strong pre flop raise is a good move as they most likely lay down. If you then get called you still have a shot at the flop, if they re-raise consider how they have played previous hands. If they are tight/aggressive, then chances are you are up against a good hand, if they are loose/aggressive chances are they are calling stations just wanting to see every flop.

Don’t fall into the trap of simply folding small and large blinds if you don’t get the standard call/raise hands. Be flexible, look at your table image and that of your opponents. Don’t surrender blinds, but oppositely don’t go after every blind, because people will soon realise what you are doing. Play a different strategy, ease off and see a few hands or fold early then act fast and bet big. Your opponents will never be able to assess your style to accurately predict your moves and your blind stealing will become a lot more successful.