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Poker Blinds

Definition: Blind Steal

A blind steal , or steal attempt, is when a poker player raises preflop hoping to win the blinds uncontested. If everyone else folds when you raise, you will win the dead money regardless of what cards you have, and won't even have to see a flop. When this succeeds, clearly what cards you hold doesn't matter, so when the objective is to steal the blinds you can be a lot more aggressive with weaker hands than you normally would be.

There's a very hazy line between a blind steal and raising for value preflop. Clearly, a hand like AA would prefer if at least someone called a preflop raise, but where is the line drawn? Does K9 suited wish for a call or a fold? Because the "value or steal" definition depends on the opposition you're up against and the range of hands they're likely to play in a situation like this, I will simply assume in this article that the hand you hold is such that you'd prefer if everyone folded.

Furthermore, blind steals are a lot more valuable in limit hold 'em than in no-limit hold 'em (the big exception being tournaments)

Stealing Blinds in Poker Tournaments

In a free online poker game start to look for blind stealing opportunities when the blinds are at the 100-200 level. I think too many players wait to see a baby ace (which isn't the best stealing hand in the world anyway) or something similar before they push in. You have to get inside your opponents' heads to blind steal properly. What are they thinking? Everyone but Seat 2 is trying to slide into the money here. They don't want a confrontation now. Maybe even less so than you, because they feel semi-comfortable with their chip positions. So what you do is, as soon as the big stack folds his hand and you can get first in - push. Doesn't matter if it's 23o or T4o or 95s or JJ . All you want is those 300 chips out there, and you're going to get them a ridiculously high percentage of the time. As a side note, I'll also raise any two if I'm the big stack and I can be first in unless the smallest stack is in the big blind. Cards don't matter at this stage of the tournament - position and chip count do. I don't think enough people realize this. Steal two or three times IN THE RIGHT SPOT (and not when the big stack is behind you - he's bound to call) and you're right back in the mix. I'd much rather push with 24o with the big stack out of the hand than K8s with him still to act.

Playing your opponents' stacks is the single most important skill to have to being a winning free online poker tournament.

Poker Tournament Blind Defense Strategy

Another place to get aggressive in the late going of a free online poker tournament is blind defense. You're seeing it suggested here that you steal with a lot of nothing. Well, others are doing it to you when you're in the blinds, so you have to make them back off. If you're just passively giving up your blinds, or calling and folding on the flop often, then you're just asking for misery. Sometimes you have to play back at the stealer by moving in on them. Sometimes you should do it with some marginal hands, too. Going all-in with 76s is not something you want to do very often in a free online poker game, but you have to send a message that you're not to be screwed with. If you do make a "back off" stand with a moderate hand like this, try to do it with a hand where if you're called, at least your hand is live. So I'd probably rather have 76s than K7o.

The Stop and Go

Another blind defense tactic is the stop-n-go. Call the steal raisers bet and fire out a good sized bet on any flop. Again, doesn't matter what your cards are, you're just hoping the stealer missed and put him on the defensive in the late stages of a free online poker tournament.

Playing your opponents' stacks is the single most important skill to have to being a winning free online poker tournament.

Blind Steals And Reverse Implied Odds

This is really the key problem when you're attempting to steal a good player's blind bet - you'll be offering implied odds, but won't get them. If you're a player who open-raise often in late position, I may call from the big blind with a hand like 9-7s but if I miss the flop, I'm not likely to invest more bets and simply check to you and fold. But when I hit, I will mostly check to you as well, and the only way for you to take down the pot is to walk into my trap and bet again. If I call and then check to you on the turn, what do you do? Bet again and hope that I go away this time? What if you raise from the button with K-8 suited, and the flop comes A-J-8, and I checkraise you - do you lay it down?

You realize the problem, I'm sure. If you can't make the big blind fold his measly pair of fours, what can you do besides checking down? Of course, if you decide to check the flop, you're giving a free card. Maybe I was intending to check/fold the flop, but now you checked and I scored a pair on the turn. Suddenly, you've given away the pot to me. But how do you know if I will fold when you bet the flop? You don't, that's the core of the problem right there. It's me - not you - who's in control of this hand. I decide how many bets I want to invest and you're reduced to simply trying to bully me out of a pot that you're now losing faith in being able to win. This is not good for you.



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