Small Blind (SB)

A small blind is a position where a player must pay half the blinds. This article will explain the position and offer a guide in playing the SB.

In poker, the small blind is one of the typically misunderstood positions. However, many punters and players would have drastically improved their bottom line should they be more knowledgeable about the small blind.

This article will help you be an absolute small bind beast and dominate cash games or tournaments.

Small Blinds Meaning

Small blinds

Before any cards are dealt, players are mandated to invest chips called "small blinds." The Small Blind, commonly termed SB, is placed one seat to the right of the Big Blind (BB). Most often, SB costs half the cost of the poker blinds. The player in a small blind position is the first individual to act during the first betting round.

Blinds are covered in any poker variant, including the most popular one: Texas Holdem. All poker formats also require SB and BB positions such as poker tournaments and poker cash games.

It is also essential to know about the following positions and orders in poker to see how you can profit more:

  • Early position (EP) - these are the three seats to the dealer's left. EP is the worst poker position since these players must act first, while two must cover the blinds. These positions are the following:
    • Under The Gun (UTG) - is directly left of the big blind. This position is the first to take its turn, which is also out-of-position. UTG is a disadvantage since you do not have any information on any players yet.
    • Big Blind (BB) - is directly left of the small blind. Players are acting second in this position and are required to cover the full blinds while in this position.
    • Small Blind (SB) - is the 2nd player to the left of the button. The SB player covers only half of the blinds and is acting third. 
  • Middle Position (MP) - refers to the three players to the left of the last early position. 
  • Late Position (LP) - the position includes two seats directly to their right and the dealer. LP is the best position in a poker game since you will have information on other players. These are the following LP positions:
    • The Cutoff (CO) - is to the dealer's right. This seat is where you can be more adventurous. You can force the button to fold from this spot by raising aggressively - known as "buy the button."
    • The Hijack (HJ) - is next to the cutoff's right. This position got the "hijack" name since the position can give to grab the action of the two later seats by stealing the blinds before them.
    • The Button (BT) - Also known as in-position, is deemed as the best position in poker when it comes to advantage since it acts last. If you are in this situation, you have the chance to watch every player in the hand act before you make your decision. 

Online Poker Tournament Small Blinds Facts

In sit & go (SNG) and multi-table tournaments (MTT) online poker tournaments, blind bets initiate play and stimulate action. Players post the blinds before anyone can peek at their cards. These are part of the players' bet unless the situation or the game structure needs a portion of the entire specific blind to be "dead."

With two blinds, the big blind should be posted by the player in two positions clockwise from the bottom, while the small blind should be posted immediately by the player clockwise from the button. If there are more than two blinds, the SB is usually to the left of the button.

The first player to the left of the blinds will initiate the action on the first betting round. Then, on the succeeding betting rounds, the action starts to the left of the button.

Infographic on the small blinds in poker
Small Blind Infographics

How to Play the Small Blinds?

Avoid Limp Betting

In poker, limp betting is a term that means to bet the absolute minimum required to stay in hand. Often, limping is applied once the SB simply calls the BB rather than raising. This approach is called the blind, flat call, or limping.

Many new players tend to limp, particularly in live games, because they think this beginner poker strategy will let them discover more flops at a fraction of the cost and probably end up being lucky by winning the pot. But limping in poker is nearly a guaranteed way to lose in the long run.

Limp betting is not an ideal poker strategy since it does not help you measure and assess much information about your opponents' hands. Limping enables your opponents to observe flops for cheap, and it does not offer you a chance to be in control of the pot. Players who limp are opening themselves to an intimidating pot-sized bet. Hence, you must avoid it as much as possible.

Play Tightly

A solid, tight, and aggressive manner is still one of the best strategic plays for SB. Being tight is about folding plenty of hands while in SB during a tournament's first and middle periods.

Tight-aggressive poker is a combination of aggressive play and selective pre-flop calling ranges. Typically, TAGs will not play several hands but will be very selective with what they play. This player usually likes aggressive actions such as 3-betting and agitating passive play like calling or limping.

It also pays to switch up your strategy by playing tight-passive. This style is about folding most of your hands until you get strong holes such as king pairs or suited ace jacks. Note that being passive all the time is a bad idea since you may miss the action when you get a premium hand.

You can expect that you will have practically good hands every time you get to the flop and come into the pot if you master this strategy. That is because there is a restricted set of opening holes that you will be playing. If you play tight at a small blind, it will either give you the chance to win the dead pot or reward you with another opportunity to play at your advantageous position. 

If you are playing with a short stack, disregard playing tightly by loosening your ranges with small pairs and small-suited aces. A decent range helps you avoid being at a disadvantage while going all-in during a showdown when you can only make ace pairs or trips.

Steal the BB

Once the action folds about to you in the SB, you just need to beat the BB to earn the dead money in the pot.

Stealing the blinds is one of those great opportunities you should take advantage of as frequently as possible even while playing the SB. Also, with blind stealing, your equity can be maximized in most games, and particularly in most poker tournaments,

Many novice players tend to over-fold from the BB against steal tries. You can take advantage of that scenario by open-raising with a wide range from the SB.

Each time you steal the antes and blinds successfully, you have supplemented your stack without the need to show your cards. During tournaments, you must steal more than your relative share of them while the blinds keep rising.

However, be careful of what you want to do because there are a lot of poker bets - even made by excellent players - that do not have a distinct purpose. If this happens, you can get into trouble from stealing the BB often. Hence, be strategic and clear about your intentions when opening the pot.

Make 3-Bets

With the small blind position, the natural disadvantage that the player has is one of the facilitators for difficult post-flop spots. You can use a folding strategy or a 3-bet from the SB to mitigate such a disadvantage when you face a raise. Ignoring 3-bet opportunities is a common mistake during SNG and MTT.

3-betting gives the SB a possibility to win the pot without sighting a flop and minimizes the average number of present players. Moreover, it takes away the similar play from the BB player.

This fold strategy range from the SB should be tight because going on with only strong hands can considerably lessen the hardship of playing out of position. Remember that one of the recipes for losing games is attempting to play a wide range of hands with a positional disadvantage.

Despite the lousy positioning of a small blind, balancing the SB 3-betting range with bluffs is still essential. Remember that your opponents can take advantage of you by over-folding against your 3-bets while having firmly premium hands.

Do Not Defend the SB

Upon playing from the big blind, one way to fight over your disadvantage is to defend your BB against steal attempts through reraising or calling. Remember that putting in the small blind could make it appear as if you have a "discount" to do a particular call. But in other cases, it might be tempting to call for raises from SB when you believe you will get a good draw, such as top-suited connectors. However, consistently flat-calling from the SB can be very disadvantageous during your game since you could leak critical information. As a result, you could lose even more from the small blind than you would expect.

Small Blind: FAQ

What are the small blinds in poker?

The small blind is usually a compulsory investment of chips required from the players before dealing with any cards. This position is to the dealer's left.

Do you need to cover the ante and small blinds?

You need to cover both the ante and small blinds. These forced bets keep the players in action at the poker table. When these forced bets are on the table, there is always an incentive to play.

How much are the small blinds?

Based on the local regulations of the game, you will commonly ask the small blind to invest half of the BB. Sometimes, it is unfeasible to post precisely half the BB since the big blind has an odd denomination value. The SB is usually rounded to the nearest practical value if this happens.

Can I raise pre-flop while in the SB position?

Once the action folds around the pre-flop, the small blind has the option to either "call" or "raise" - which is often renowned as "completing" or "limping." The small blinds do not get the choice to check. To continue in hand, the SB can either raise or call.

Does the small blind costs increases?

During any poker tournament, blinds steadily increase to encourage all players to fully participate. SB and BB usually increase after every player fulfilled the blinds positions.

Small blind (SB) is one of the most challenging positions at poker tables. If you do not play well in this position, it can affect your total winnings. Hence, it is crucial to have basic knowledge of the SB and follow our tips to increase your chances making money while playing this position.