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…”
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.
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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