The blinds should be one of your last concerns in the early
levels of a tournament. The blinds aren’t going to be high
enough to where it’s going to be very profitable to be taking
shots at pots that really aren’t going to increase your stack
size by a huge amount. With all of this being said, however, it’s still
something that you are going to have to deal with. You might not
be attacking your opponents when they are in the blinds, but
this isn’t to say that other players aren’t going to be going
Not only will you need to learn how to defend against other
players stealing your blinds, but you’ll also benefit from
knowing how to spot players who are stealing blinds ahead of
you. Have you ever been in late position when a
middle position player opened the action? You probably felt
suspicious about their move, but you didn’t do anything because
you weren’t sure. The trouble with letting these types of moves
go is that smart players will learn to take advantage of you.
You can’t just let people run over you, even if it is for small
amounts of chips. Should you always fight back? No, definitely
not, but you should learn to take advantage of their over
As mentioned in the beginning of this article, stealing the
blinds should be put to the side when the tournament starts. You
can pick some spots from time to time, but your intention should
be to get the action started, not to try and really boost up
your stack size. Tournaments aren’t going to be decided based
on whether you were able to pick up 50 chips when an event
started if you had 10,000 chips to begin with.
Players often times will hear about stealing the blinds and blindly, pun
intended, go after them whenever they have the chance. The truth
is that this decision needs to be calculated based on risk and
reward just like anything else. If you are fighting for tiny
bits of chips, chances are that you are going to lose much more
than you ever stood to win.
Everything needs to be kept in perspective in poker. Just as
a hand is going to have different values in different
situations, stealing the blinds isn’t always going to make
sense. Think about the position you’ll be in if you do manage
to steal the blinds vs. if you don’t. Pretend that the blinds
are sitting at 10/25 and you have a starting stack of 20,000.
Now, this would be an awfully deep stack to start with, but it
illustrates the point perfectly. 35 chips are going to mean not
even a 1% difference in your stack size, not even close to 1%.
Sure, you’ll only lose a fraction if you miss the blinds, but
that doesn’t even matter. Just remember that until you get into
the middle-late stages that stealing blinds is a waste of time.
Defending Against Steals
If you are in the blinds, you’ll have a firsthand look at
just how often players come after your blinds. If you suspect
that some opponents are trying to steal your blinds even when an
event has just begun, you should be smiling. Not only does this
mean that they probably don’t know what they are doing, but it
also means that they are going to create opportunities for you
to trap them with relative ease. You won’t need to make any
fancy or tricky plays to get these players’ money. All that you
need to do is sit back and wait for them to be unnecessarily
reckless. Isn’t it beautiful?
The way that you capitalize on this over aggression is to
pick your spots. You don’t need to have a super strong hand, you
just need to position yourself so that the raiser always thinks
they have control of the hand. If someone thinks that you are
likely to fold (regardless of whether you actually are), they
are going to be that much more inclined to fire away over and
over. A small, insignificant pot could easily blossom into
something of real size if a player is careless enough.
Spotting Steal Attempts
If you can’t correctly identify the spots in which a player
is trying to steal your blinds, you aren’t going to be able to
pick them off. Of course, this is the biggest struggle that
anyone is going to face. You are going to frequently think that
you have a beat or read on a player who you think is stealing,
but you could easily be wrong. When you back yourself into this
corner, you’ll be risking money for no real good reason.
Things to look for in a blind stealer are frequent raises, raises that tend to only
happen in unraised pots, and players who give up easily after
the flop. The reasons for these being the indicators of someone
who continually steals the blinds should be obvious. A player
who raises more than usual is unlikely to have a hand every
time. It’s definitely possible, but this is a situation where
you should be playing the odds.
Needless to say, the more experience that you have with a player the better
off you’ll be when using any
of these context clues. There’s always something to say for an
ample sample size. If a player doesn’t seem too aggressive when
someone else opens the action, but always looks to make a move
when there’s dead money available, you can assume that there’s
an increased chance that they are stealing the blinds. These
players are really doing what they should and tend to be more
skilled overall, so you should be careful when playing in pots
Players who give up after the flop are more
difficult to spot, because it will require you to have played a
significant amount of hands with them. You’ll usually move
tables before you get a chance to really put this information to
use, but if it does present itself, it’s worth using.
As you play in more and more tournaments, you’ll gain a
natural inclination for when someone is making a move. The real
risk here is found in the level of the tournament. There isn’t
much need to expose yourself to big potential losses, so you
should definitely be picking your spots very carefully. If you
can get in cheaply and flop the nuts against a wild and reckless
player, then that’s great. If you are trying to outplay someone for a
trivial amount of chips, however, you are misplacing your
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