The effects of the
antes / blinds on strategy
Everyone knows instinctively that the blinds and antes paid out during the course of a session have some sort of impact on the way one should approach the game. Exactly why these mandatory bets influence strategy, and what sort of actions they dictate, is much less-common knowledge though.
According to one of the fundamental theorems of poker, playing as many EV+ hands as possible is of utmost importance when seeking long-term gains. I’m not going to go into details now as to why that is, it’s been explained in other articles in this section. Most people reckon that the fact that they already put money into the pot should be the main motivation behind being more aggressive on hands that they post the ante or one of the blinds for. This is simply not the case. Whatever is in the pot belongs to the pot, which is a separate entity, and odds-wise it no longer matters who put it there in the first place. One factor that confuses people is that when it comes to the rake and the rake paid by each individual player, it is very important who contributed to the pot and how much. Not so with the odds though.
The way to spot rakeback scams is not to look for extremely high rake rebate percentages. Prop deals offer well over 100% and they’re legitimate. Look for partypoker rakeback, pokerstars rakeback, titan rakeback or other such rack back setups attributed to sites which do not in fact offer rake return in any shape or form.
Back to the actual point of the article though: the already paid-out blinds or antes influence the pot odds in a different way. Let’s suppose that you paid out $2 in the BB. A couple of people call you, then a third one raises to $4. Everyone else coming up after the fella will have to call $4, while you’ll only have to call $2. Given the fact that the pot will swell nicely due to the raise, and that you’ll only have to risk $2 more to possibly win it, the mathematical expectation on the call will be a positive one. (the expected value is influenced by the size of the pot, the actual odds of your cards becoming winners and the money that you need to stuff into it to go any further).
The bigger these blinds are, the bigger the EV+ will be for the guy who posts them. (opponents are less likely to raise on big blinds than on small ones, not only because they look intimidating but if they’re god players they’ll realize that they’d be playing on negative EV most of the time if they did so). That means, the bigger the blind you’re forced to pay, the better odds you get for it. Another interesting phenomenon that takes place in a game where the blinds are huge o start with, or they become big as the game progresses, is that big blinds place a pressure on players. They risk being sucked dry by the blinds alone, which leads to a decrease of the value of the starting hands that are likely to be played at such a table. The person in one of the blinds will naturally lower his standards, on one hand because the loss in EV value this move induces is compensated for by the increase in EV+ given by the size of he blind, on the other hand because it makes perfect sense for him to do so once he knows his opponents will also throw weaker hands at him for the above mentioned reason.
Bigger blinds make for looser play, smaller ones tighten up play. The loose nature of play in high-blinds games carries over to later stages of hands too, it doesn’t get stuck on starting-hand levels. Thus, in short handed games top pairs are considered pretty good hands at the river, while in full, 10-handed games for instance they lose out to drawing hands. This leads us to another consideration. In a 10-handed high-blinds game, where you are in the BB, do you reckon it’s worth sucking in more action or that you’re better off settling for defending your blind (stealing it if you’re not the one paying it) and stealing the SB (and some possible calls)?
What is the poker cashback? It is a form of rakeback invented by poker sites which were forbidden to openly offer rake back to their players. Cashback or cash back is basically poker rakeback under a different name.
At full tables it is always a good choice to go for the blinds, instead of aiming for "full value” and thus granting drawing hands (which are pretty dangerous in this situation) a chance. One of the reasons is that you do not want to give too many of the drawing hands at the table free or cheap cards, the second reason is that the blinds being as big as they are, are good-enough bounty in themselves.
Remember, even if you have a good hand, raising is a much better choice in high blinds/ante games than generating action by slowplaying.