Stealing The Blinds

If you're like most card players, when you sit down at a no limit cash game you plan on staying awhile. When I play, I usually figure being at the card table around eight hours. sometimes more. And man does that time fly.

At the end of the night (or early in the morning), a good chunk of my chips is usually from stealing the blinds and occasional pot. You'd be amazed at how quickly these pots will add up over the course of a night.

Let's say you're playing a $1-2 no limit game and you ONLY steal the small and big blind three times per hour for an eight hour shift.

That comes out to $72 in your pocket at the end of the night. And more often than not, you'll be stealing more than just the small and big blinds. and I'm guessing you may be playing in higher stakes games (if not, don't worry. you'll get there soon).

The point is, you can see how easily these small pots add up. and their presence can make your night successful.

These numbers are similar for tournament play too. In fact, it's MORE important in tournaments to steal blinds because they're constantly being raised. That's why blind stealing becomes a fundamental part of the game.

It's something you HAVE to do. just to stay in the game.

But here's the thing: You can't just steal the blinds whenever you feel like it. You have to pick and choose your spots to attack. And you do this based on two main criteria:

  1. When you sense weakness in your opponents.
  2. When you have good table positioning. Here's an example of what I mean.

Let's say you're playing a $1-2 no limit cash game and you get dealt:

You're on the button.

John, Aaron, and Shelly all limp-in by calling the $2 big blind. And they ONLY limp-in, which catches your attention. You know that these players are normally fairly aggressive and will usually raise pre-flop with a variety of hands. So you're confident that this is an occasion where you can steal the blinds.

"$20 to play," you say as you splash the pot with some chips.

You make this bet because you feel like all three of your opponents will fold. and you'll get the $5 in blinds. It's not a lot of money. and your odds are terrible considering you're risking $20, but trust me. once you get to know your opponents this is something that you REALLY need to do to make more money playing poker. Stealing $5 an hour for 8 hours at this game would equal $40. and for a $1-2 no limit cash game, that's a sizeable amount.

You're pretty sure none of your opponents have a $20 hand. If they DID, they would have made a pre-flop raise. The only person you're really worried about is John because he limped-in while under the gun. A smart player knows better than to limp-in under the gun at an 8-man table.

But then again. John isn't a very smart player.

Even if you DO get a caller or two, you're in OK shape. You've got good positioning. you've got control of the betting. and J-9 suited it the type of hand that can bust opponents because if you hit they DEFINITELY won't put you on it.

So a caller wouldn't be THAT bad. and if everyone folds (what you're hoping for) you get the ever-important $5 in blinds.

Just as you expect. all three of your opponents fold and you rake in the $5. You muck your two down cards and don't show them. I'll usually say something silly like, "C'mon guys. I had Big Slick."

So the night goes on like this. and from time to time you steal the blinds when you're in good position and sense weakness. You get a total of ten pots for $50 in your pocket at the end of the game. That's $50 you wouldn't have seen had you not been such a thief.

Remember. good positioning and sensing weakness are the keys. If you don't know if your opponents are weak, work on getting a better read on them and tracking their betting patterns more closely.

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