Table Talk : Playing the Small Blind

Small BlindAn experienced player knows how important betting position plays are in poker, especially in Texas Hold’em. The Small Blind position is a very tricky one to be in. The evil truth is that even the best of players find it difficult to win money in the small blind and chip totals weigh heavily in tournament and no limit play. That is why the goal of this article is to teach you how to reduce the amount of money you will lose, so that you can increase overall the amount you win outside of the blinds.

There is one fundamental reason why being the small blind is difficult, and that is the fact that we are going to be first to act in every round after the flop. Being in this position means that our opponents get to see how we acted, giving them seemingly more information on the strength of our hand than we have on theirs. Even though the small blind may be perceived as a losing seat, it does not mean we have to lose every time we have the position.

We already know when playing from the small blind, we are going to be at a disadvantage. Therefore when we are in the small blind, we will want to stay in only if we have strong hold cards to compensate for our poor betting position. Never feel committed to any pot just because you have paid into it. It is not profitable to try and protect money you were obligated to bet (big or small blinds). That is why it’s a seemingly good and common small blind strategy to fold pre flop or after the first raise.

Don’t be afraid to play a hand in the small blind position if you have a strong enough hand to do so. By being somewhat selective we can increase our chances of winning the hand despite our bad betting position. A big mistake when playing in the small blind can be the notion that it’s always worth seeing a flop, as half of your big blind bet is already in the pot. While having half of the big blind in the pot does improve the pot odds, there is the distinct possibility you are setting yourself up for a bigger loss. The extra half of the big blind bet may seem like a reasonable price to pay to see a flop, but in reality it is a very dangerous play for the less experienced player. The losses stack up after a while, and as I stated earlier chip totals are what matter in the long run.

With all this in mind, I will say that I’m the kind of player that feels we lose 100% of the hands we fold. I do not like to fold my hand without seeing a flop despite the contradictory advice I just gave you. I almost always stay in a hand unless the pre flop betting exceed my reasonable odds of an out or my hold cards are too weak to ever be a winning hand (I’ll explore hold cards in a later article). I strongly advise though that the inexperienced player wait till they have an eye for winning hold cards and get out of the hand early to protect their chip stack from dwindling unnecessarily.