The Blinds â€“ When to Defend and When to Let Go
Becoming a winning poker player is a complex journey, especially in today’s highly competitive online poker environment. There aren't any shortcuts, those who got there can attest to that. The policy of small steps seems to work well on this journey though, so understanding and learning to properly execute a few relatively simple strategy concepts will only get one closer to that ultimate goal, one step at a time.
The problem of the blinds is one that plagues many a poker beginner. One is forced to shove money into the pot twice per orbit, whether he/she likes it or not. Most players instinctively know that in an evenly-matched game the blinds can and will make the difference, and they know that whether or not they lose money on the blinds and how much they lose is quite descriptive of their overall ability to become long-term winners.
Most players learn to attack the blinds much faster than they learn to defend them. That’s probably because attacking them is a relatively simple move which pretty much only hinges on position and a few reads. The defense is a much more complex affair and the fact that most players can hardly wait to take a swipe at someone’s blinds won’t really help either. Why would one want to defend his/her blinds? Because one would ideally not want to lose more on the blinds than he/she would by folding.
The reason why blinds-defense is such a sensitive issue is a simple one: the SB and the BB are the two worst positions at the table, in a game which is an overwhelmingly positional one. The reason why most people lose a lot more money in the blinds than they would have to, is that they always feel their blinds represent an investment in the hand, one which carries an automatic sentence of being pot committed. The first step in the successful defense of the blinds is to let go of this concept.
The second step is about developing a feel for position – for one’s opponents’ position that is. When a raise comes, one has to know what position that raise came from. The later position it comes from, the more relaxed one’s defense range can be. Raises from early positions call for some tight defense obviously.
The third factor to consider is the type of player one is up against. A raise from a normally tight player obviously means a much tighter defense range, while one from a maniac – even if it comes from one of the early positions – should be easier to defend with weaker cards.
In order to make things simpler for beginners, the most useful piece of advice we can provide is to only attempt defense with a very tight range of hands (usually upwards of pocket 7s) when in the small blind, and to only expand that range a little when in the BB. Because one’s position will be an extremely tough one on the flop, adopting the hit or fold approach is recommended. To make a long story short: when in one of the blinds, one will need more than a pair to make a stand.