Stealing the blinds in online poker

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stealing the blinds

A blind steal occurs when a player raises pre-flop to win the small and big blinds without seeing the community cards.

The blind steal is different from a normal raise in that, when you raise to steal the blinds, you don’t want to see a flop. You can be semi-bluffing with a mediocre hand like K-10, but generally you’re hole cards are irrelevant.

Stealing the blinds is a fundamental technique in Texas Hold’em, and a key to winning multi-table tournaments. Since the blinds are low in the early stages of a tournament, it isn’t recommended to try and pull it off. Players are more likely to gamble and will have no problem calling your raise because the blinds are small in relation to the starting chip stack. As you advance to the middle and late stages, stealing the blinds becomes important to maintaining your stack. You’re not going to win a tournament by stealing the blinds, but it will give you the chips to forge ahead and raise with premium hands.

The middle stage

By the middle stage the blinds have increased enough to where it will be lucrative to steal. This is where players start to tighten up and protect their stacks, which means they won’t be as aggressive in defending their blinds.

Before you attempt a steal, you must be conscious of whom you are stealing from. You wouldn’t want to raise into any stack. If one of the tournament chip leaders is sitting at your table, then it’s usually not worth it to try to steal his blind. He’s the chip leader for a reason, and if you try to tangle with him he’ll defend his blinds more adamantly than a short stack.

If you attempt to steal the blind of a short-stacked player, keep in mind that he might push all-in. The players with average-size stacks are the best to go after.

Late stages

Once there are two to three tables left, players start to play either ultra conservative to increase their payout, or aggressive and pick up blinds to distance themselves from the rest of the field.

If you’re one of the chip leaders, then you have the advantage of stealing blinds from conservative players who are only playing a very small range of hands. Before you attempt to steal the blinds from a player who is short stacked, recall how they’ve played from the blinds. Have they been folding or pushing back all-in?

If you’re one of the players on the ropes and just looking to make your chips last as long as possible, stealing the blinds isn’t an option, especially if a player with a big stack is in the big blind. Push while you still have enough chips to make a raise that would scare people with mediocre hands into folding.

Bet big

If you’re going to attempt to steal the blinds, you need to raise a sufficient amount to throw players off their hands. Weak players like to call online, especially when they already have chips in the pot. 

You should raise about three to four times the big blind to make a successful steal. The deeper you go into the tournament, the less likely your opponents are to re-raise you.

Steal from position

The button is the best place for you to steal because you have position on them if they were to call. On the flip side, stealing from the button is a somewhat predictable move. Good players might sense your strategy and re-raise you to see if you really have a hand. The cutoff is a slightly less predictable place to steal, but also a riskier move. If you do not raise enough or you have a loose table image, now you risk getting called by three players instead of just two.

Hands

The object of stealing the blinds is to avoid seeing a flop, so your hole cards are irrelevant. If you have an inkling that you might be called, then drawing hands like suited connectors give you a chance to hit a flop.

Know thyself and thy opponents

Before you attempt to steal the blinds you should know how you are perceived. If you are a tight player, then certainly try to pull it off. But if you’re known as a gambler, then you run a higher risk of getting called or even re-raised.

You must also know the big blind. If the big blind is a good player who defends his blinds, you probably shouldn’t attempt a steal. If the big blind is a tighter player, then push him around.

Conclusion

Many factors have to be present to make a successful stealing. To recap, you should:


  • Be cognizant of the stage and type of players at your table in a MTT (multi-table tournament)
  • Be in late position at your table
  • Have a relatively tight or unknown reputation
  • Have enough chips to make a raise that’s three to four times the big blind
  • Have a read on the big blind and be cognizant of the blinds’ stacks

During heads up play, blind stealing becomes an integral part of maintaining your chip stack.

Can you recall a time you made a risky attempt to steal the blinds? How did it turn out?

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