Know Your Blinds:  How a Blind Bet Changes the Game

Limit and No Limit Betting Structures

Limit Hold’em

There’s a common mistake that players make in the blind position, namely not knowing when to fold.  People look at it in terms that they’ve already got money in the pot so they need to play.  However, in many instances this isn’t true and will just cost you more money than a half or full bet.  It all depends on if and how many people raise, who is doing the raising and what cards you have in your hand.  There are also different consideration to make based on whether you’re the big blind or the small blind.

In the case of the small blind any kind of raising needs to be done with caution.  Because you are limited to a maximum you can bet the scare tactic of a big raise isn’t there.  In fact, if you raise thinking you’re going to pressure players to fold it could have the adverse affect.  The limited raise could be well worth it to others to still see the flop, and the pot’s just gotten bigger giving them more incentive to go for it.  So really you’re just better off calling.   

Another reason raising on the small blind, or big for that matter, is not a great idea is that other players will know you most likely have a good hand.  This can scare some players off, but not all then you’re stuck in the early position for the next betting rounds and everyone else will get a chance to read into your moves.  You could also very well have bad cards on the flop which would also be detrimental to your hand.

When the betting round makes it to the small blind they have several choices; put in the second half of the bet to call, fold or raise.  To make the most logical decision a player in the small blind position should just act like they don’t have any money in the game so it won’t affect rational.  If everyone calls then it could be very well worth it to put in the second half of the bet and see the flop.  However, if your hand is bad you might want to save the half bet for your next small blind and just fold.  If someone raises it’s a whole new ball game that will cost you more than a bet, and a fold is the wisest decision unless you have strong hole cards.

The best bet in this position is to simply call.  This will help you to keep opponents guessing as to what you have in your hand which will help in later betting rounds.  You’ll also squelch in strategy a player in a late position was using to bluff or scare players off with a raise.  If you have a good hand call the raise and throw off the game.  Whether they are bluffing or do have a decent hand they’ll be thinking twice about how they are going to approach the next round of betting.

For the big blind the same for approaching the first round of betting applies to everything above.  It is still in your best interest to simply call because people will read your hand as good if you raise limiting the mystery surrounding them, and you will then be in an disadvantageous early position the following betting rounds. 

However, for the big blind who has a full bet in the pot already you definitely never want to fold if there hasn’t been a raise.  Even if you have nothing in your hand you’ve already paid full admission for seeing the flop so you should, it could turn a bad hand around for you.  But if someone raises then you do have to decide whether to forfeit the money you’ve already put in or put more of it in that can potentially be lost as well. 

This is why for big blinds even more so than small blinds paying attention to who did the raising will help you come to a decision.  If it is a conservative player who raised or one in an early position these can be read as most likely good hands that have a good chance of beating your hand if it isn’t strong.  However, if it’s an aggressive player or one in a later position they could very well be bluffing and it could very well be worth it to call the raise.

If numerous players raise and the pot begins to swell this is the toughest choice.  You have to weigh the pot odds against what you have in your hand.  If it’s something strong like a pair of A’s then call, if not it could be too expensive to see the flop.


No-Limit Hold’em

Many of the same rules apply for no-limit as they do for limit hold’em.  However the one key difference worth noting is the all in or high bet.  Unlike limit Hold’em a blind can use the all-in bet or high bet to scare off other players before the flop if no one, or maybe only one or two others, have raised.  After all it’s always preferred to get the pot before the flop. 

However, if another player is going at it aggressively or if there are a number of players checking and raising you better have a good hand to back up your stack.

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