Stealing the Blinds in Poker
Blinds Stealing in Poker
Stealing the blinds in poker serves two major purposes. First of all, it adds to your chip stack in both cash games and tournaments. Secondly, it improves your table image by making you look aggressive, which makes it easier for you to get paid on big hands.
Stealing the Blinds in No Limit Cash Games
Blind stealing plays an important role in cash games, but not to the same extent that it does in tournaments. Even so, one successful blind steal every hour does make a difference in your long term hourly win rate. But you have to be careful, because if you try to steal the blinds too often, it will get expensive and actually hurt your win rate.
Much of your decision of whether or not to steal the blinds should be based on the type of players in the blind positions. If you’re in a game full of fish, you really don’t need to steal the blinds or attempt any other kind of trickery. Just play a normal tight-aggressive game and wait for strong hands.
If there are weak players in the blind positions, you can steal from them fairly easily. Just wait until you have position and it gets folded around to you. You can then put in a modest preflop raise and win the blinds. If there are smart, aggressive players in the blinds, you should scale back on your steal attempts.
For the most part, blind stealing in cash games can be seen as an image builder. If you were to never steal the blinds at a table full of aware players, they would know what you have every time you did raise. In games full of smart opponents, the occasional blind steal helps you remain unreadable. This makes it easier to get paid off on big hands in the future.
Stealing the Blinds in Poker Tournaments
Blind stealing plays a huge role in poker tournaments – especially towards the later levels. In fact, much of your stack building efforts in the late tournament game will revolve around stealing the blinds. This is because as tournaments progress, the blinds grow larger and larger.
Blind stealing in poker tournaments should mostly take place in the middle and late stages. The early stages of typical poker tournaments are too loose and wild to make it worth stealing the blinds. Additionally, the blinds are not yet large enough to justify the risk of losing vital chips.
As the tournament advances, the blinds become increasingly important. They force the players to either earn chips or bust out early. If you want to stay competitive and have a shot at making it to the final table, it is vital that you steal as many blinds as you can. Otherwise, your chip stack will dwindle, the other players will stop fearing you and you will find it increasingly difficult to win pots.
The key to successfully stealing the blinds in poker tournaments is in choosing your targets. The best players to steal from are those that are scared and are simply trying to survive to the money. These players are the easiest to steal from because they don’t want to risk chips by defending their blinds.
It is also important to identify good situations for blind steals. It is obviously much easier to steal from late position than from under the gun (although the occasional early position raise is a powerful move). You should also consider the recent history of the table. If you have won several pots recently without a showdown, it will be more difficult for you to get away with a steal.
The size of your raise should be determined by the size of the blinds and your own stack. If you have a large stack relative to the blinds, a 2-2.5x raise is plenty in a tournament. But if the blinds are starting to get big relative to your stack, you will be best served by just pushing all-in on your steal attempts. It may be scary to push all-in, but it gives you the best chances of winning. Besides, you would have to call anyways if you got any action because a single raise takes up such a large portion of your stack.
Blind stealing in tournaments is risky but it’s a necessary part of winning tournament strategy. If you want to do more than make it to the money and take home a prize that barely covers the original buyin, you will have to steal blinds and take risks. The one piece of advice you will see more than any other is to play for first place – not to make it to the money.