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Blind Stealing Like A Ninja

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Stealing the blinds in is an essential skill that is neglected by many players. Today we are looking at how Blind Stealing works and why it is so important.

A blind steal, or steal attempt, happens when a poker player raises pre-flop looking to win the blinds uncontested. If everyone else folds when you raise, you’ll win the dead money regardless of what cards you’ve got since you won’t have to see the flop.

Blind Stealing in Tournaments and Sit-N-Go’s

Blind stealing is not critical in the early stages of a tournament when the blinds make up such a small percentage of your stack size. If you start with 10,000 chips and blinds are at 25/50, the blinds represent less than a 1% gain in your stack and hardly impact your long-term odds of cashing. Unless you are tactically trying to develop a table captain image, and are skilled at how to leverage one through the many hours at the table, there is little point to stealing blinds early. Early tournament blind stealing also tends to undercut the effectiveness of blind stealing in the later stages of tournaments when it because vital to survival. When you get down to 20-30 blinds you simply cannot afford to wait for premium hands. You must keep your stack viable and dangerous to other players to best position yourself for a chance at a top cash, which is vital to long-term profitability.

Blind Stealing in Texas No-Limit Holdem Cash Games

In cash games, blind stealing is less effective, because blinds are normally very small in comparison to your stack size. You have to risk a lot of your chips to win a small pot. Instead of blind stealing, focus on playing strong hands and avoid risking money with weak ones. This is particularly true in smaller limit games, such as $1-$2 NLH, where the rewards of winning $3 in blinds is just not substantial enough to merit the risk.

You should only try to steal the blinds from late position if you feel  either that 1) your opponents in the blinds are so tight that they’ll lay down the vast majority of their hands and/or 2) you can easily outplay your opponent post-flop. Do not overdo it. Otherwise players in early position will likely begin to defend their blinds, no matter how tight they may normally be.

[bctt tweet=”One of the most dangerous things you can do to protect your blind is just calling the bet.” username=”PokerTraining”]

Defending against blind stealing

If a late position player is attempting to steal your blind, you should not be trying to protect them on a regular basis, because you are playing from early position post-flop. That means you will always be the first player to act without knowing anything about your opponents’ hands. For this reason, protecting your blinds isn’t going to be very profitable in the long run.

Under certain circumstances, you can effectively prevent your opponents from taking your blinds if you think this is becoming a chronic problem that is damaging your profitability.  Also, in games with higher general skill levels, where many players may be savvy in the implications of game theory,  it may become more important to develop an optimal frequency for blind defense to make the blind steal unprofitable for your opponents.

One of the most dangerous things you can do to protect your blind is just calling the aggressor’s bet. Instead, make a decent re-raise. With this approach, your opponents will think twice about attempting to steal your blinds in the future. An ideal time to make this play is against an aggressive player who raises from the cutoff or button with no action in front of him.  This vastly increases the likelihood that he is making a blatant steal attempt and your opponent’s range will be pretty substantial.

When in doubt, focus on playing the strength of your hand. Fold weak hands and re-raise with strong hands.


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