Stealing Blinds

Stealing blinds is an important concept to grasp for both poker tournaments and cash games. It is undoubtedly one of the best ways you can accumulate chips steadily. Not only is it going to be a +EV play, by constantly adding chips to your stack, it will help to make the small setbacks you have during a session to be a lot more manageable.

So it should go without saying that you should look to be stealing blinds at every opportunity that presents itself. It is a big aspect of the game, and a huge part of a successful poker strategy, especially when playing multi table tournaments and sit n go’s, as you have the added pressure of the increasing blinds.

When should you be stealing the blinds in Texas Hold’em? You definitely want to try blind steals with lots of starting hands including weaker holdings much more frequently when you are in late position at the table and it has been folded around to you.

In these situations, your raises only have to get past a few players. Not only is it unlikely that they are going to have a strong hand, if they decide to want to play the hand, they know they will be out of position for the rest of the hand, making it likely they will just fold and not defend their blinds. Consider the player that is on the button after it has been folded around to you, as they will be more willing to call raises with more hands considering they will have position on you post flop.

Although many players understand the important concept of stealing the blinds, and they add the play to their arsenal, what lots of inexperienced players think is that once it’s worked for them a few times, they need to slow down, because the players in the blinds are going to give them less credit for having much of a hand. Whilst this can be true, you should continue with the blind steals until the players in the blinds have adjusted properly. Don’t assume something will happen when it actually hasn’t happened. You will be passing up plenty of +EV spots with this line of thinking.

If a player in the blinds has been playing tight all session, then chances are they will continue to play tight, and you will be able to steal their blinds relentlessly. These players don’t like playing hands out of position and will look to only play the very best hands. So, you definitely want to exploit their weak/tight play.

It also isn’t necessary to risk a significant percentage of your stack when you attempt blind steals. In tournaments, where stacks are typically much shallower, you can get away with making a smaller sized raise pre-flop, since the raise represents a bigger portion of your opponent’s stack. Your opponents will either like their hand enough to want to go with it or they don’t so a larger raise is just risking more when you’re bluffing then what is needed to get the job done. In cash games, generally a pre-flop raise in the range of 2.5/3 times the big blind will work.

Make sure that you are consistent with your bet sizing on your blind stealing attempts. If you are raising smaller with your blind steal attempts and raising larger with your strong hands, then the more observant players will pick up on this, and might start playing back at your blind steals since they will know you have a weak hand.

Another valid reason to consider stealing the blinds is that even when a player defends his small or big blind, you are going to have position and initiative in the hand. This means you can continue to represent a strong hand on the flop by following through with a continuation bet even when you happen to completely whiff! This is what makes stealing the blinds such a profitable play.

With that being said, it’s going to be much better trying to steal blinds when you have a hand that has potential of flopping something big, so even when you miss, if you flop a decent draw, you are still going to have decent equity in the hand.

Poker is all about taking +EV spots because it’s going to make money for you in the long run. So it makes a lot of sense to go for blind steals against tight players as they don’t offer much in the way of resistance. When all is said and done, you want to take as much as the table will allow you to. If you get your hand caught in the cookie jar, then you can adjust by tightening up, because your blind steals are going to get less credit.