Holdem Live Blinds

To play your first two cards out of the blinds is very different from the other positions because you will have terrible position for the next three betting rounds. But this is fairly compensated for by the fact that you have to call only a partial bet. The overall result is that you play rather tight in some situations but play rather loose in other situations.

Many players tend to lose certain amount of money from the blind positions. This is because they often overestimate the value of their hand as compared to the partial bet that they are required to make to continue playing. Even though you can play looser in some situations, you should play reasonably tight if the pot has been raised and the raiser is not in a steal position. More will be discussed later in the text.

Let us consider the situation where you are in the (live) big blind and no one else has raised yet. In this case, you should raise only with extremely good hands. Keep in mind one of the reasons to raise in a late position is to help you to take control of the pot. However, it is difficult to do when you are first to act on the flop.
Suppose you have

and one or two aggressive players have called from an early position. You should (but not always) call and perhaps try for a check-raise later. You don't have to hit your hand to make the check-raising a correct play. You have to be sure that that the flop did not help anyone else. For example the flop can be

or

As these were early-position players, there is great chance that you have the best hand. You can check-raise if you think someone with a hand that is worse than your AK will bet in this position.
On the other hand, if you hold AK in the big blind and are called by only one or two players from late positions, then you should raise. Because of their positions - and implied weakness when they just call - you cannot rule out any flop from hitting them. Therefore, a raise is now a best play, as it is likely that your hand is great.

It is sometimes correct to raise in the big blind when many players have called and you hold a hand like JT's, A5s, or a small pair. Remember that this play is not as strong from the blind position as it is in late position because you will be improbable to get a free card if you check. However, if the flop comes same just the way you want, your raise may attract some players to stay with hands that they should fold if they knew what you held. (For more discussion on this topic refer to Poker Theory)

Suppose you are in the big blind, the pot has been called on your left and someone now raises on your right. You should call only with your better hands. This is because you can be re-raised on your left. If several players are in the pot, you should play more hand, especially hands that have the possibility to make the big hands such as straight and flush draws. This includes hands like

And

You can generally play these hands if the raiser were on your left.
We do not suggest that you to call raises in the big blind with a hand like:

If this hand was suited then the call would be correct. But for these calls to be profitable, you need at least two ways to win. When the above hand is suited you have two ways to win - first a straight and second a flush. But when it is not suited there are not enough ways to come out on top. If your cards were higher, generally nine-eight or better, then you can win if you flop a draw, miss it, but make a pair after the flop. Hence, a call would now be correct as it is much easier to win the pot with something like a pair of nines than a pair of fives. Calling with the small unsuited connecting hand you have to be against weak players who will not collect more from you when you flop a draw, but will often pay you off if you make something.

In an early position when the pot is raised and you are in the big blind, one hand that is very crucial in this case is KJ. The reason is that a hand such as

can comfortably make a second-best hand that you will have to play off all the way. This does not mean that you should not call a legitimate raise with KJ but it does mean that the tough player calls much too often with this hand. Again, there are situations where knowing your rival can be a significant factor in determining the correct decision. The same would apply for hands like AJ, AT and KT.
For calling small pair you need couple of player in. Hence,

is playable against an early position raiser and a caller. This should guarantee your implied odds that are necessary in case you flop the set. You can of course re-raise with AA or KK when you are in either blind. But, as stated earlier, do not re-raise automatically with AK (or with QQ).

One situation where big blind changes considerably occurs when you are against a possible steal-raise - that is, a raise from a late position by a player who you believe would try to pick up the big blinds with a weak hand. Keep in mind, against a legitimate raise, you still need a very good hand to call. A better guideline is to play significantly the same hands that you would generally cold call a raise or re-raise with if you are in a late position. But a steal-raise is a different case. Now you are encouraged to play more hands. How many more hands you can play largely depends on the skill of your rival. The worse he plays the more you play.

Against weak rivals who will not make good use of their positional advantage on the flop, you can call in the big blind with hands as weak as those in Group 8. On the other hand, it will be best to throw some of the smaller non-suited connectors away. You should re-raise about one-fourth of the time, especially with your best hands.

If someone calls between you and your rival or if your rival plays well, then you should tighten up your play. But you still can play many more hands, perhaps Groups 1-6.

The same strategy would apply to the little blind. However, when you call a raise from a little blind you will not only have to put larger fraction of a bet into the pot, but also a player remains to act behind you. One situation where the correct little blind play differs from a big blind play is against a possible steal-raise. Now if you are going to play (particularly with a hand in Groups 1-6) you should almost always re-raise. The main reason of this re-raise is to knock the big blind out of the pot. But if someone else has already called the raise, then this play is incorrect without the best hand because you know that at least one of your rivals is possibly to have a legitimate hand. Furthermore, you should also consider how well your rival plays. Keep in mind the better he plays the best possible hand you need to make such type of play.

There are two different situations where small blind play differs from the big blind play. First, it occurs when the pot is not raised and it will cost you only a fraction of a bet to play. If the fraction to enter the pot is half a bet then you (the player in the small blind) should still be fairly selective of the hands you play, though you should play loose. For example, hands like:

any two suited cards, or if the pot is short-handed, a hand that contains an ace, are all possibly correct to call with. But hands like

should be thrown away immediately. However, if it costs only one-third of the bet to enter the pot, every hand should be played. In this case, it is too cheap to throw away your hand, no matter how bad it is. One exception occurs when the big blind is a frequent raiser. Then why raise even one-third of the bet, as you have to fold if your rival raises.

If no one has raised, the pot is short-handed, you are in the small blind and the big blind is appropriate to call your raise, you should only raise with your best hands. This means Group 1 and 2 hands. However, if the big blind will fold a lot then you should raise with many more hands. This means Group 3 and 4 hands which are made up of high ranking cards. However to make this play with an average hand, remember to consider your rival's play. You should not be willing to make this play against the better players.

If no one has raised, the pot is multi-way and you are in the small blind, only raise with those hands which are stronger and also play well in multi-way pot.

Keep in mind when you make this raise you are putting large amount of money in the pot out of the position.

One other situation that is exceptional to the small blind is when everyone has thrown away their hands. Now the questions arises whether to fold, call the big blind, or raise the big blind. Further including the ideas of the above paragraph, remember that for all the four betting rounds, you will be at a positional disadvantage to the big blind.

If the big blind throws away his many hands, then in this case you should often raise against him. For example, in a $10-$20 hold'em game, it costs you $15 to raise when you have the small blind. There is $15 already in the pot. Therefore if the big blind folds more than 50 percent of the time, you would show an immediate profit with any two cards. In addition, you can sometimes win when you are called, and it becomes worthwhile to raise when your chance of stealing the ante is as little as 30 percent. Some players in the big blind will often discard their hand but when you find one who will, you should take the advantage him.

Let's take a simple example. If you have a hand like

You should just call. However, if the big blind folds a lot, or folds much on the flop, you should always raise. (Refer " Playing Short-Handed" for more discussion on this topic.)

Usually, if you are in the big blind, everyone passes to the small blind, and he raises, you need to make sure that you call enough so that the player in the small blind does not show an immediate profit. However, if you know that this player has high raising standards, you should fold your worse hands.

Continue : First Two Cards: Late-Position Blinds