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The Blinds: Pro’s & Con’s

First of all, we are not referring to window coverings.  A Blind is a forced bet that is made by players located to the left of the dealer and made without looking at your cards. These blinds count toward a player’s investment toward the first round of betting. Let’s be honest every poker player likes to win a big pot and this is where it starts. So if the pot isn’t raised during the pre-flop stage, the small blind will only have to put in another half a bet to call. Likewise, the big blind won’t have to put any more in the pot, although the big will have the ability to raise his blind. The way you play the blinds, will have a large bearing on your success at the game.

Small blind:

When the game begins; the small blind antes up half that amount. So for simplicity’s sake, if the limit is $2/$4, the big blind is $2 and the small blind is $1. This is not like a no limit or pot limit poker game. The “small blind” is normally half the big blind and is rounded down to the nearest practical value.  In games such as Texas and Omaha Hold’em, this is a forced bet that is made by the player to the left of the dealer.

Big blind:

The Big Blind is a designated amount that is placed before any cards are dealt, by the player sitting in the second position. The Big Blind is generally equal to the minimum bet. For the most part the big blind is equal to the lower amount of the stakes for that individual game.

When the pot has not been raised:

There is one benefit of being in the Big Blind seat that will not happen too often  and that is; prior to some player raise the pot, you get the opportunity to see the Flop for free. With this sneak peak, you will get the first chance at the pot. If the   dealer gives you a good flop to play with, you will be able to get your play in quicker. When you’re in the small blind, you can get to see the flop for half a bet, or one-third of the bet, depending on the game rules.

Holding a big hand:

Once in a blue moon you may be dealt one of those hands that will conquer all and all you have to do is play it. As we know, during most games players will systematically raise when they get these hands, no matter what has been dealt before. The tell-tale sign of a challenge is when a player raises from the blind; this sends the signal to your opponents that the hand that you bare is a good one. The majority of poker players in games you are likely to play will not risk a pair if the have their sights set on a higher combination such as a flush. A smart player would take advantage of this tendency and check-raise your opponent from the blind when you know he plans to bet a hand that you can beat.

Marginal hands:

In the majority of the games you will play, the opening hand dealt will be of a marginal value, killer hands do not come too often. While marginal hands are relatively good, remember “good” is just dependant on the hands of others.  The whole concept really depends on one’s position, what cards could other players who have entered the pot may hold, if there has been a raise and a whole slew of other variables that makes the game of poker so damn frustrating at times.  If you are put in this situation, the most painless move may be just simply check when it’s your turn to play and hope the flop is favorable. You’ll have to carefully consider whether to call or toss your hand away when there is a raise. When you’re in the small blind, you need a stronger hand to raise, since it will cost you more than half a bet. In routine games it will cost you a bet and a half to call a raise from the small blind.

Consider the position of the small blind:

When the pot hasn’t been raised it costs only a half bet from the small blind, you still shouldn’t call with just any hand. Since you are just beginning, you need to limit your calls to those hands which offer real potential for improvement. This is a safety net for those who plan a long career as a poker professional, by playing an excessive amount of games your money will not last as long. If you’re playing in a game where the small blind is two-thirds of the big blind, you can play just about any hand from the small blind in an un-raised pot. Keep in mind the starting hands as mentioned previously, are generally marginal at best. Even the best of players throw most of their hands in on the flop.

The Raise while in the small blind:

The small Blind really only has three choices at this point which are; Raise, Call, Fold. The least dangerous is the raise; raising puts the Big Blind on notice that a stronger hand could be challenging him post-flop and a good hand might be needed just to call. Raising may also scare off any early callers who were trying to limp in. If you’re in the small blind and only one opponent called from late position, you can occasionally raise regardless. If any big cards flop, your bet stands a good chance of eliminating your opponent. Remember, tactics like this should not routine because it could be used against you also.

Summary:

As your career continues you may be tossing your cards in due to inadequate hands and un-certainties’.  For the majority of the time when you encounter a raise and you are in one of the blind spots you will throw your hand away. Save your better hands for half bets, and then play your so-so hands when the bet is only one-third. Remember: If the flop is favorable, you still have the disadvantage of acting first on each succeeding round of betting. Although for the larger number of hands the flop will be unfavorable and you’ll wind up folding anyway, when someone bets. The best and safest advice any player can offer about playing blind is to play fewer hands, but make the most of them and stay observant.