In poker, the big blind is the most important position at the table. You will most frequently see flops from this place throughout your poker career.
At the same time, it is also the most challenging spot to be at a poker table. If you want to know the rules, strategies, plays, and frequently asked questions about big blinds in poker, keep reading this article.
Big Blinds Meaning
In Texas Holdem Poker, blinds are a forced bet placed by the poker player positioned two seats to the dealer button or the dealer's left.
Typically, the blind bet is double the amount of the small blind in poker games. Usually, you must put this bet into the pot before a game begins. In this poker position, you will see flops most of the time.
Apart from the fact that this spot is crucial to be in, it can be one of the most profitable positions when it comes to gaining an advantage over your competitors. Of course, the BB is not the ideal position to bet or make raises since it is one of the earliest.
In Texas Holdem, big blinds compel players to wager money on the game, encouraging player participation and betting. Otherwise, players will not have the financial motivation to gather more chips or compete.
The blinds periodically increase in value throughout a game or tournament to compensate for the growing size of chip stacks. You can control the stakes and length of a poker game by manipulating the amount of time between increases and the size of the big blind.
Big Blind Poker Strategies
Be Mindful of Stack Size
Your chip stack plays a vital role in how you play the BB. Stack sizes pressure your opponents, whereas larger ones can intimidate them.
If a player has a big or medium stack, they can play tight or utilize the TAG (Tight Aggressive) style, where they play a small percentage of the total hands. With a big stack, players can afford to check most hands just to see how their opponents play and make 3-bets against them.
Though big blinds will play aggressively when short-stacked, that does not mean they cannot see several flops. Remember that you have limited decision points when you get short-stacked. So, it can help weaker hands to determine their equity more because they can call more often and simply commit to the flop once they hit a piece. Also, when players are short-stacked, they should resort to playing a more significant percentage and a LAG (Loose Aggressive) style. Other players might think that playing loose is terrible. However, it's important to note that a good beginner LAG strategy concentrates on looking for ranges where every extra hand added into their range is +EV, provided by their opponents' errors.
Be Tight or Loose Base on the Opponents
Remember that this game's idea is not to follow set ranges strictly. Instead, the key is adjusting to the different types of opponents you will encounter while playing at the table, particularly in poker MTTs. Players should master molding their play to what their specific situation needs to get the best results. For instance, you can defend even more liberally at lower stakes because players will make several post-flop mistakes that big blinds can take advantage of. As a result, you get to realize more equity. Simply put, you can take exploitative action or be tight or loose while you play poker based on your opponents and maximize the game situation you are in to win the pot.
It is important to note that playing too loose while in BB is never a good idea. Having an incredibly wide range when defending your BB is one of the significant mistakes among MTT players. Do not hesitate to fold any trash cards while in BB during pre-flop, such as small pairs and off-suited holes.
Play Aggressively with the Antes and Short Stack
It is difficult to overstate how antes affect your pre-flop calling ranges, mainly as you do big blind defense. You need to loosen your range at a point in a tournament when the antes are in place.
Players usually overlook the importance of antes because they seem to be a small amount when being paid individually. Most players fail to realize that antes can significantly impact your pot odds and can change the dynamic of pre-flop drastically once pooled together.
In addition, if you are sitting on the big blind with a short stack, get ready to 3-bet shove with hands that carry out well as shoves. Usually, this play will give you a much-needed boost to your short stack. Apart from that, you can get the maximum value if you have a strong hand. Make sure to follow with a C-Bet post-flop when you get a good texture.
One of the major misconceptions about 6-15 big blinds play is that you can only fold or shove versus a raise. This old-fashioned recommendation is not genuine if you factor in how well you realize equity and the odds of getting to call with a short stack. Ultimately, never be scared of calling with a short-stack.
If you hold a hand that is too weak to show while you face a small raise but too strong to fold, considering the price, do not think twice about tossing in the call. This aggressive play strategy is very effective, proven, and tested by many poker players.
Tournament & Cash Game Difference
Now, we will discuss the different factors between a poker tournament and cash game big blinds, their rules, and how they can affect the pot value and the ideal ranges of big blind defense.
In poker tournaments, big blind defense and small raise sizes combined with antes lead to better pot odds. The antes juice the pot by almost one big blind at a full-ring table. If this combines with the comparatively small raise sizes utilized by players in the tournament, it becomes apparent why the big blind can defend successfully with a wide range. On the other hand, the lack of antes while using the standard raise size usually results in worse pot odds in cash game blinds. Since there is 1.5BB in the pot in this case, it will force you to play a lot tighter in all poker positions. Apart from that, pre-flop raises usually get more extensive in cash games, which worsens your pot odds more.
Different Stack Depth
Creating a strategy based on chip stacks mainly occurs in tournaments instead of cash games. Stacks are dynamic in tournaments where they grow or diminish. You will likely see deep stacks against short stacks in the middle or end of an SNG or MTT. Cash games have varying stacks coming into a round. In the first game, you can be up against two short stacks in one game and then play against three opponents with deep stacks in the next. Because of this, going all-in during a cash game is not advisable unless you have the nuts or at least a top pair.
The rake is paid per hand once you reach the flop during cash games. With this, you need to slightly tighten your calling range to credit the decreased pot odds because you will be playing for a minor total pot position. Tournaments only require you to pay the rake as part of your buy-in to the tournament. Anyone looking to make money by playing poker should take note of the rake for any table when computing their earnings per hand.
Big Blind (BB): FAQ
What are the big blinds in poker?
Big blinds in poker variations are a mandatory bet paid by the player who sits in the prominent blind position. It is typically the size of the table's minimum bet and double that of the small blind in poker games. If you are in a prominent blind position, you will often see flops during the game.
What is the turn order of those in the position of the big blinds?
The big blind is one of the three positions in the Early Position (EP) -- the three seats to the dealer's left. This position is placed directly left of the small blind.
Can you re-raise while in the big blinds?
You cannot raise by any smaller amount than any amount raised in the current hand, or the previous player is impossible. It is possible to double a raise after the big blind. Note that the actual raise can only happen when it is that player's turn.
Should I always defend the big blinds?
Defending your blinds at the right time is essential to minimize the effectiveness of the raises made by other players. Even the most outstanding poker players in the world agree on how vital it is to defend your blinds with the proper card range.
How do I play big blinds short stack?
If you want a profitable short-stack strategy, the key is to play an aggressive and tight game and determine where your strength truly lies. Even if you are short-stacked, some players refuse to gamble and lay it down unless they have a strong hand. So, it would help if you took advantage of this and constantly held this threat of the all-in over their heads.
If you are in a significant blind position, you can improve your win rate if you implement the right strategy. Overall, it's crucial to know when to defend the big blinds, consider various factors in the game, and play hands that will make money based on equity realization and pot odds.