|Posté le: Mer 14 Oct - 21:06 (2009) Sujet du message: Defend Your Big Blind . . . When You Know How
|Defend Your Big Blind . . . When You Know How
Playing hands when seated in the big blind, the second position to the left of the dealer button, can be tricky. On the one hand, you’re in bad position because you’ll have to act early in all future betting rounds. On the other, you’ve already invested money in the pot.
Let's look at a $10-$20 Limit Texas Hold'em game scenario.
In the big blind, you hold 7-8 offsuit. A player in middle position raises the pot and now it’s just you and he left in the hand. Sure, 7-8 isn't a very strong hand, and you wouldn't play it from an early position outside the blinds, but should you call with this hand if you've already invested a bet?
Take a look at the math.
Your opponent has thrown $20 in the pot. In addition, there’s also $5 from the small blind, plus the $10 you've already put in. That adds up to $35. It only costs you $10 to call. You’re getting odds of 3.5:1, and you only have one player to beat.
It’s clear that 7-8 offsuit isn't going to be a favorite over most of the hands your opponent will raise with, but since you’re getting such favorable odds, it doesn't have to be. Consider that if your opponent raised with A-K, your 7-8 still has a thirty-eight percent chance to win the pot, so making the call is a reasonable play.
In a No Limit Hold'em tournament, it really gets interesting, especially when antes are added to the mix. Once again, you’re in the big blind. This time your hand is 6-4 offsuit. There are nine players at the table who have anted 100 each, and the blinds are 400-800. Right off the bat, there’s 2,100 in the pot.
A tight player, representing a strong hand, raises the minimum under the gun (the position that must act first). Everyone folds to you, and you’re faced with the prospect of putting 800 in to call. With his 1,600 raise, the pot now totals 3,700. You only have to call 800 more to win 3,700, giving you close to 5:1 odds. Even if your opponent shows you that he has pocket aces you'd still want to call this bet; pocket rockets are only slightly better than a 4:1 favorite against 6-4 offsuit.
There are some drawbacks, however, to defending your blind with trash hands.
When you start with garbage out of position, you might find yourself forced to make very difficult decisions. For example, if the flop comes 9-6-2, should you bet with your 6-4? Should you check and then fold to a bet? What about a check-raise?
Playing optimal poker isn't easy. The very best players in the world, those that consistently make correct decisions in sticky situations, are generally known as tough blind defenders. Without doubt, they do the math, but they’re also very confident in their ability to read opponents and to strategically bluff them out. Ideally, that should be your goal as well.
You need to learn to defend your big blind, but it's not a strategy a beginner can master immediately. As a novice, you'd be better off folding some of your big blind garbage so you won't make costly mistakes later in the hand. Even the best professionals won't defend a big blind with 7-2 offsuit,(with the exception of Gus Hansen who's known to be an extremely loose player.)
By defending your big blind more often, and contesting more pots, you'll send a message to the rest of the table that your big blind "is not for sale". That's a table presence that really works. Incidentally, if you know that a certain player in the big blind will only call a raise with a very strong hand, never give him a break. Apply maximum pressure on him. However, if a big blind player sometimes re-raises, or calls most of the time, give him a little respect. Instead of raising his big blind at will, be more selective against him, and go after easier targets.