The first thing to understand, and (since it is bad news) to just accept, is that in Texas Hold’em poker the small and big blind positions immediately to the left of the dealer are the worst places to sit. The reasons are that these two positions are required to add the mandatory amounts to the pot, and, they have the least information about other players’ bets and hands.
So the question is, how does one deal with this position? Because the advantageous role of dealer travels around the table, all players take turns in the blinds, and so there is overall balance. Therefore, here are the basic options:
- Take a pessimistic view, hope for the worst while in the blind, and just cut your expected losses as much as possible
- Take a constructive view and don’t write off the positions, instead trying to make some lemonade as they say
- Shift your thinking so that being in the blinds pays off more than it sucks chips from your supply, and perhaps defend your blind bet
So, let’s take each of these one by one to clarify some good strategies for playing your small and big blind positions. Overall, to a large extent, the crucial takeaway here is to keep expectations low when in a blind role, since categorically even the best players do lose money in such a situation. Without high hopes, you can play tighter and reap as much as possible, and, even jump on opportunities with a cool head.
Pessimism & Cutting Losses
Whatever you do, do not feel obligated to call other, better positioned players from a ‘blind’ position, literally! To be tight, conservative, gives you two advantages in the long run: you will not hemorrhage so much cash, and, it improves your psychological hand, if you will.
If you succeed in controlling and minimizing your losses while in the small or big blind (seeing that you are likely to lose so money) then you are ironically strengthening your chances in other rounds. If you are new to the table, and especially if you do not have much experience with your opponents yet, then pessimism and tight play is really a good way to go.
Constructive Blind Positions
Another way to look at your blind liability (the fact that you must add an investment in the pot) is that this gives your actual hand strength a bit of a built-in cloak of secrecy that can be capitalised upon. At the least, you can view your position as something to defend by calling others because you want to send the message that your blind money is not just something others can collect, and take for granted.
But this sort of attitude is more appropriate after you have settled in at the table a bit, already constructing your reputation and leading opponents into certain long term assumptions about you. At a basic level, you do have the benefit of being invested in the pot already, which can tend to improve your odds depending upon how the action develops. It can be lucrative to follow the good odds despite only decent cards, both for the specific hand and in view of setting up forthcoming action.
Be a Maniac from Blinds
Some very good players are known to be very loose from the blinds, somehow reaping all rewards possible despite the drawbacks of these disadvantaged spots. In order to do this, to make it look easy, of course, a player’s game must be optimal in many if not all other respects. In particular, one must have excellent intelligence about others’ tendencies, read them well, have a lot of personal confidence to psych others out from the blind, and so on.
Therefore, getting gutsy when a big or small blind, perhaps even bluffing, is an advanced strategy for avid players or during mature stages of gameplay at a table. Defending one’s own blind and going for the pot, too, is best done when circumstances are ripest (such as if most of the table folds leaving cash up for grabs, or, when you have cultivated a respectable image of strength that can be used for leverage).
Sharp Vision Even When Blind
Loose play from blinds is definitely not a strategy one should exercise in an undisciplined manner, even though this may be the image one consciously places in others’ minds in order to catch them.
For the most part, especially beginners should play tight and just chalk up hands from big or small blind; the general non-cash payoff for doing so is the valuable gain of experience, gathering intel about other players, and generating the right reputation oneself. The good news is that these are things that can’t be done in same way from stronger seats during the game, after all.