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How do you play the blinds?

How important do you reckon it is that you defend your blinds in online poker, especially your big blinds?

Are you one of those players who just tick the "auto-post blinds” option on the bottom of the screen and never pay any more attention to the blinds from then on?

Well, I suggest you give that approach some more thought, and maybe reconsider "auto-posting” the blinds next time you play in a fast paced ring game or tourney, for that matter...

Blinds are extremely important and you need to defend them every chance you get. To allow you to gain a measure of their importance, before I go on, I’ll give you a small example. Consider a real (brick and mortar cardroom) poker table. Let’s suppose you get called away every time the big blind gets around to you, so you post it and leave the table. You return as soon as the big blind passes on, and you take things up from there again. This way you’d lose about three times the equivalent of a big bet per hour. If you play succesfully from every other position but the big blind, you’ll be winning about one big bet per hour. I think it’s pretty clear now just how important defending the blinds really is.

Nowhere is the importance of the big blind more obvious than in online poker tournaments. Here, as level up happens every three or eight minutes, the blinds alone can kill a player’s bankroll if he/she fails to act in their defense.

I myself found, that an aggressive defense from the big (and sometimes even the small blind positions, when the situation calls for it) will not only keep you alive but will push your bankroll ahead as well. On the other hand, if you completely forget about acting on all other hands (except when you have something of a monster in the pocket) you will do just as well. Exception is, when it comes down to the last (few) table(s) when you obviously need to step things up.

If you’re a loose aggressive player, you should know that in a poker room which uses the dealt rake method, you’ll be generating rakeback money for the other players. Don’t let your rake contribution go to waste like that. Take a look at our rakeback information page, and make sure you know how your rakeback deal works.

A nightmare-situation for the rookie player is, when he/she gets raised in the big blind position, preflop by some wiseguy. Most players get intimidated easily and will give up their blinds despite the fact that the pot odds would suggest a different course of action.

It is not easy to play from the big blind against some reckless poker-star wannabe, but then again you need to consider that it’s not easy for him either to play like that against you.

Poker is a game of positive expected value. The more times you act in situations when you have positive expected value the more times you’ll win. Just think about what that preflop raiser feels like when you call his raise from the big blind, and then, when the flop comes nothing but a bunch of offsuit unconnected low jibberish, you call a raise again. You can be sure that guy will be chewing his nails off well before the showdown, provided he knows at all what kind of situation he’d gotten himself into. The fact is that the pot odds are 3,5 to 1 in your favor when you call his raise (provided everyone else has folded by that stage), and that’s quite a handsome return...

Many players tend to feel like they’re exposed by being in the big blind, and hate the whole system for it. Next time you’re playing from the big blind, consider it a position of power and advantage, and do not feel like you’re forced to do something that exposes you to the sharks around the table. The big blind means you’ll have a pot odds advantage over every player and you should make use of that advantage.

Of course, the biggest fear concerning the defense of the blinds is that the preflop raiser might actually have something very solid to motivate his move. In this case you’ll be playing from the position of an underdog with the pot odds in your favor.

Loose and aggressive players enjoy an advantage in poker rooms which use the contributed rake calculation method. This way they will not end up generating rakeback for others, and all the rake return they help produce ends up in their accounts at the end of the month. Sign up for a rakeback deal today and don’t let your rakeback end up in someone else’s pocket.

This is the thing most regular (fair-to-good) player find simply inconceivable. Whenever they smell someone has a real edge on them they tend to fold. Good poker players consider the pot odds, and they focus on making as many plays as they possibly can from a positive EV position.

One final word on the blinds: a good poker player will focus on exracting as much value as possible from other people’s blinds, and on losing as little as possible on his. Do this and you’ll be a winner. One note though: defending your own blinds is far more important than stealing the blinds of others, simply by virtue of the fact that while defending, the pot odds are on your side too. Oh yeah, and don’t use the "autopost blinds” feature. If you need to manually post the blinds you can be sure you won’t forget that you’re actually in that position during the hand.that follows.

- by Jim Jackson

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