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Blinds Play

Learning to play the Small Blinds (SB) and Big Blinds (BB) during a poker game are critical pieces of the complete package for a successful poker player. It can help maintain sufficient poker bankrolls by picking up a bet or two here and there and it's even a bigger help when you're trying to maintain your chip stack in a Texas Holdem tournament.

Playing In The Small Blind Position

When you're in the SB, you will often get the opportunity to see many flops with a range of hands for "half price". The term comes from the fact that if there are a few limpers to you and you've already put your half big blind bet on the table, it costs you exactly half to see the flop (assuming the BB checks his or her option). Due to this fact, creative acting and betting patterns can often extract more chips from your opponent(s). Take the following example:

You're playing 5/10 No Limit Texas Holdem in the SB and you're dealt 4c 7c and enter a three-way pot with a middle position limper and the BB. The flop is 5h 6c Kc and you check, the BB checks as well and the middle position player bets half the pot. At this point, you're sitting on a monster with your open-ended straight draw and club flush draw. It's pretty clear that the limper has a King in his hand or at least wants to represent one and the BB is an unknown variable at this point. Considering the range of hands the BB could have, he likely has no hand here with his check.

So what do you do here? Assuming you have no reads on either player at this point, a raise is usually the best move. At the very least it will thin the field if the BB folds and if the middle position player is holding a medium strength King he may just call and pay off the turn and river. If you miss the turn and it brings a total blank, take into consideration what the middle position guy does; a check here often indicates either (1) weakness or (2) he's afraid of his kicker. Your option here is to check to see a free card or try to take it town right then and there. Most players will bet here and if the river completes your hand you may be able to value bet the board and get a call from the limper with his weak King.

Playing In The Big Blind Position

Playing the BB is often very similar to playing in the SB, the biggest difference being that you get the option to check, call, raise, or fold last before the flop. Very often, you can take down a significant number of BB's if there are many limpers. A late position raise here usually signals strength and may get the others out of the pot, allowing you to collect a few BB's in the process.

If you look down to see a large hand in the BB, such as pocket Kings you can often crush an opponent who is trying to steal blinds or make a late position move. It's very common in tournaments for players to steal blinds from the button, picking a premium hand in the BB is a great way to confidently push back when this happens. Bluffing in the BB is no different, as it often signals to the other opponents that you will defend your blind if they try to steal it.

The Big Blind Special

If you play poker long enough, you'll hear the term "Big Blind Special". This refers to a big hand that's beat at showdown because the BB hit a crazy straight or two pair. This is usually the result of the player with the big holding slow playing or misplaying their hand. Let's face it, if you're allowed to see a flop with rags because a player limped or only made a small raise on the button pre-flop then by all means, do so! If you're able to hit two pair or a big draw on the flop, it's often advised to pay to see the turn because your implied odds (if the hand completes) are very juicy.

Playing the blinds can be a tricky proposition but using good poker sense and your reads on the table can add up to big profits.