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A Strategy to Defend Your Big Blind | PokerGob - Your Mouth of Poker

A Strategy to Defend Your Big Blind

Written by PokerGob on . Posted in Poker Blogs

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Reversing the Button

If you choose to defend your big blind in Hold’em be prepared to play with fire. Defending your blind is not a simple task.

Some players will be greedy but everyone will be trying to pillage your stack. Remember that Texas Hold’em is a game designed around the wars and conflicts between players, who will be vying for the blinds. It is not for the faint at heart.

There are many players that will call raises from the Big Blind and end up finding themselves in huge trouble. They dislike being “ran over” and in fact they detest being bullied so much that they forget the game and prefer to battle in a futile attempt to win the “war of the blinds”. In simple words, “Why win the battle, but lose the war?” They call too much in an attempt to protect their blinds from being taken.

The problem is that once a player calls a raise from the Big Blind with or without a great hand they must act out of position. This frequently leads to overplaying hands and feeling the need to be aggressive. I once spoke with professional poker player and renowned author, Mike Caro, and he stated,

 “Money flows clockwise at a poker table… It can be very difficult to be profitable when one is on the blinds because like it or not, the Big Blind is just a bad position at a Hold’em table…”

SamvoGob The Black Cat

We all see it, chips flow to players in position it’s a fact of poker. The Big Blind might only have “positional advantage” over the Small Blind and that doesn’t account too much considering there is likely to be players acting in position behind the Big Blind.

So here are the meat and potatoes of the article (or the soy and hummus for the Vegans); it is sometimes okay in poker to play passively. The time to do it is when you’re on the Big Blind.

By slowing down the action and check-calling more often after a flop is a better way to control the pot.

You’ll often see Phil Hellmuth “check dark” when he is playing out of position. It’s not just some Hollywood stunt although it always looks that way; he does it to “reclaim the button”.

When I describe this play, I use the term “Reverse Button”, by checking and letting someone else dictate the action, one can get a read for the situation and decide what they should do rather than lead with a bet into a lion’s den. There are times where leading with a bet is a good idea, but in this case we’re discussing one method of protecting one’s Big Blind.

In order to make this play work, occasionally you’ll have to check fold and create the perception that you can be ran over. It’s also a good idea to check-call more often than check-raise because it will disguise what hand you have and keep the pot smaller so you won’t have to call bigger bets if you’re up against an aggressive player.

Samvo Poker World Sit n Go Masters

Here’s an example, you’ve decided to call a raise from a player in the hijack seat with Q10s and flop a queen. If you lead you may be raised and the pot will be more difficult to manage because any bets on later streets will have to be bigger in relationship to the pot, but if you check-call the pot will remain smaller and you’ll be able to see more streets for less money.

Remember you could be check-calling beat to AQ or another hand, but the point is, you’re trying to avoid getting into a big pot out of position and more importantly see as many streets for the least amount of money.

I like this play because it takes one decision out of the hand for you, you’ll still have to make a decision on the river based on what happens on the turn of course, but by check-calling when you’ve flopped something, you’ll be able to gather much more information about the hand then leading into a player who has position on you. It’s also a great way to slow down an opponent who has position as well.

Lastly, it’s better to win a smaller pot and protect your Big Blind than lose a huge pot while attempting to protect your Big Blind and end up having to fold before the seeing a river.

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  • PokerPsyche

    If I’m in either blind, and I’ve called, it means one thing, I have a hand, whether it’s a pocket pair or suited connectors. I don’t have a problem with the table knowing I’m playing uber tight from the blinds. In fact, I will sometimes even tell the table verbally, “I’m VERY tight in the blinds. Look out.”

    And I will check 100% of the time, whether I hit the flop or not. Now, most of the time, I will have to evaluate how my hand fits into the board, whether it’s an overpair, a set, a flush draw, a straight draw, or a made hand. But that evaluation is AFTER I’ve checked. In fact, I make it a point to not even look at the flop if I’m playing out of the blinds, because that could send my opponents a tell, or it could tempt me to start moving at the pot, which I don’t want.

    What I’m looking for is for the opponent to let me know what they think of the flop. And often times, that means that they are going to C-Bet. When that happens, I then evaluate the strength of my hand on it’s own merits, then against the possible range that my opponent might be on and determine if I want to raise right here, or flat to close out the betting, then fire off a bet on the turn regardless of what card comes out. If I raise here, it’s because I think the guy is on complete air. If I call/bet the turn, it’s because I think the original raiser has something, and now I’m putting him to the test. Usually this is enough to end the hand right here, but if I get played back at, then I need to evaluate the strength of my hand.

    Another thing that I look for is if the original raiser has gotten a few callers closer to the button and now checks the flop. If another player in later position takes a stab at the pot, especially if they’re playing from the cut off or button, I try to watch the original raisers reaction to the bet. Often times they will telegraph the strength of their own holdings right there, and if they don’t think their hand is any good then I may raise with any two cards. The strength of the check raise is often enough to take down the pot.

    Now, this is also contingent upon there not being an Ace on the flop. If there’s an Ace, I will only be making this move if I can beat a pair of aces, like when I flop a set or two pair. This is because a lot of players will play a bare ace from late position to a single raise, then, if it gets checked to them, will fire out a bet.

    Another byproduct of this type of play is that if I have a set or two pair and the board comes with an Ace and then pairs on the turn with one of the other two cards, filling me up, I then will fire out with my full house. The other player in the hand has all but told me that they have Aces, and I’m not worried about them, and often times will repop me in this situation, especially if they have a really good kicker.

    By this time, I have a boat and I have a player playing back at me. Not a bad place to be in.

    But it all goes back to the idea that if I’m in the blinds, I am going to be playing tight so that when I do hit my hand, I have a monster. And with a monster you have flexibility, not to mention at that point, the other players are expecting to win because they have position on you AND they have a decent hand, or what they think is a decent hand, and will often overplay those hands because they think they have the button.

    Meanwhile, I’ve stolen the button from them and they don’t even realize it. At least, on the flop, that is. And once the chips start going in the pot, at least with me, the other player is going to have to show me a darn good hand, because I’m going to be holding a very good one myself.

  • PokerPsyche

    Sorry, that ended up being WAY longer than I intended.

    Great read, Gob!

  • PokerGob

    Thank you for the reply. We’re both thinking along the same lines. I like the announcement “I’m tight on the blinds” 🙂

  • Iheartdurrrr

    Got me thinking about playing my Big blind better. Nice Blog!!

  • KiNG2SMooTH

    Great Blog!!! I have found myself in some bad situations because of how I play some blinds. This blog will give me something to think about as I am playing!

  • Jose Villadiego

    Great blog! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  • I find that its far more important to steal the blinds then to actually defend them. Defending that blind is really only relevant to how often it is stolen. Punish the limp in defense of BB and find decent hands to attack the SB and BTN that are stealing frequently. Great article! Your very correct on the quote, ““Why win the battle, but lose the war?”

  • This might be one of the most essential plays I’ve picked up thanks Gob 😉

  • PokerGob

    @foldshovepoker without a doubt! Alot of players will do this incessantly and lose tons of chips… thanks for the comment!

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