Is fear eating your blinds?

Fear is a powerful thing but at poker table the emotion is unwanted.

Unless you were born as a poker maniac you have probably experienced the feeling in the beginning of your poker journey. That fearful noob who is too afraid to play anything less than premium hands, who surrenders his blinds to anyone who makes a raise.

If you are already past that point - congratulations! But if you are just dipping your toes in the world of poker, or somehow got stuck in that phase, hear me out.

If you haven’t already, the best thing you can do for yourself as a new poker player is to go through a basic poker course. It doesn’t really matter which one you choose there are decent free options available. This will broaden your thinking and give you the foundation to build on. Having a solid grasp even on the basics is much better that gathering pieces of information from here and there, and not knowing how they fit together.

This kind of course might help you to understand what your opponents are thinking in some situations, and also to learn when and how to defend your blinds.

A tight player plays about 10, 15 or 20 percent of his hands.

If you play AA-88, AKs-AJs, KQs, QJs, AKo-AQo, KQo,
what percentage would you give to that range? Would you be shocked if I told you that is only about 7 percent of hands?

How about now?

AA-66,AKs-A4s,KQs-K9s,QJs-Q9s,JTs-J9s,T9s,AKo-A9o,KQo-KTo,QJo-QTo

This represent around 19% percent of hands.
It’s a bit wider but any opponent with a HUD will soon notice that they can easily steal your blinds four out of five times.

How we handle blinds in general could make or break our game, and knowledge is the best antidote for fear.

For example, did you know that if you won the blinds in a tournament at least once in a table round (if there are no antes) you could sail your way to the money quite easily?

Another factor of fear lies also in tournaments. We fear that we lose our investment, and I’m not talking about the buy-in. We invest hours and hours of our valuable time, and it is only natural that we don’t want to see it go to waste. But before we even open the tournament lobby we should make it crystal clear to ourselves why we play.

Are we going for the win and nothing else, or do we settle for a min cash? If we are unsure we might as well save our money until we know for sure. Not knowing what we want will affect our whole tournament.

Playing it safe might carry you to ITM but it will also make you a prey in many situations.

Make clear to yourself what you want from poker and learn what you’ll need to do to achieve it.
The more knowledgeable and determined you are the less room you are giving to fear.

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I agree that you can’t let fear tighten you up so you don’t defend your blinds if you notice that someone is trying to take advantage of you.

You can start out tight as a default strategy but you have to loosen up and play back if someone is trying to take advantage of you.

As you also mention: the importance of attacking the blinds yourself.

Since you have position when raising first in from the button this is a place to start loosening up even if you are naturally a tight player.

You often get more respect until they notice that you have a much wider range than they first expect.

Both great posts. Thank you. Playing from a blind is always an opportunity.

Online poker is a fast game. Don’t forget the frequent table rebalancing, which I feel limits your opportunity to work the table. But sometimes, you can be on the same table for a long time. This is when you can use these strategies, once you build a rep on a table.

Defending blinds can be rather difficult - you are always OUT of position, similarly to check raising.

Many players are unaware of these things. I like slow playing a big pocket from the blind and trapping the would-be blind stealers. But crushing a hand with 28o from BB is quite rewarding.

From the BB, you can represent any hand. If your villains recognize this, you can exploit the position as much as them.

I think defending blinds is situational and reminds me of showing weakness on small hands early to bait big traps later. It is risky.

It’s an aggressive game. It’s the balancing act that makes poker so fun.

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I love this post. Great thoughts. 100% agree!

Good points! Two caveats:

  1. you do NOT have to “loosen up and start playing back at them” to avoid being exploited. You simply have to call down lighter. Over-aggressive villains will have nothing, or at least less than their bet size is representing, a LOT of the time. Try to plan ahead—what does their opening range seem to be? What runouts favor their range, and which board textures favor yours? Be prepared to call down with just 1 pair, and not even necessarily top pair. Be prepared to call down with A high on some runouts when draws miss!

If you start playing back at agg opponents, often you just end up in this place where you’re basically guessing whether they “have it” or not, while bloating the pot with a marginal hand. This isn’t optimal. Just recognize the advantage that your tighter range gives you, and act accordingly.

  1. Slowplaying a big pair from the blinds is not generally a good strategy. Under the right conditions, where you have a good read on your opponents and know they are overly aggressive, it can be a winning play. But usually it’s still at best just AS GOOD as simply raising preflop—it’s rarely a BETTER strategy.

First, you win smaller pots because you didn’t raise preflop. You want to maximize your winnings with strong hands.

Second, you haven’t defined your opponent’s range. So it’s hard to know which boards are good for you and which aren’t, other than the obvious “I have QQ and the flop is KKA” situations. It feels great when we slowplay JJ and get a stack from QT on a ten high flop. It feels less great when we lose to T8 when it flops two pair, and we proceed as if we have the nuts.

I profit with big pairs against overly aggressive opponents by winning a lot of pots preflop without showdown. Pure profit, no risk. Then when we do go to a flop, the pot is inflated and I have a big range advantage. These are great conditions for building a stack.

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Remember that in poker we profit when our opponents make mistakes. If you do not raise a big pair preflop, then T8 suited is not making a mistake by continuing to a flop. We want to play in such a way that getting outdrawn by these marginal hands constitutes a major error on our opponent’s part. If they want to chase against the odds, we are happy to see them do so, even if we lose sometimes in a frustrating manner.

But don’t give them good odds to crack your big pair with some middling holding that needs a specific board texture to be worth much. That just justifies their loose play.

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Nervousness at the beginning of the game is really a problem for any player. It’s about overcoming fear and equipping yourself with knowledge. We need to understand our opponents’ strategies to be able to turn the game in our favor.

This is what I needed to read right now.

I have Poker heavily on the brain ever since I found out about the “Card Club” in my hometown. It’s a private venue, real cash, membership only, nightly poker club. I’m going to join. I’m mostly Video Poker, BJ, and Slots.

I’ve dabbled with some online tournaments; I’m new to in person gaming, not new to playing the game, but I am new to a lot of the theories and strategies and maths. The first statement you made on blinds has me thinking, “I don’t know what in the hell he’s talking about.” I did a quick review on blinds, and realized, I am definitely new.

The blinds are they’re own martial art it would appear, and I thought they were just financial obligations imposed by the house. I’ve never used that much critical thinking. But I’m looking forward to building that up. Sorry for starting to rant.

I wanted to say one more thing regarding getting those feelings out and neutralized——get on and play with bonus money that you know you can potentially cash out. The playthrough requirements are outrageous. They want $5500 just for a bonus winning of $2.99.

The psychological investment increases as the playthrough decreases. Especially if you only let yourself deposit money if you manage to win house money first….something like that. You’ll trigger all those insecurities and fears as if it’s your real money on the line without using their real money. I do it daily, depositing per protocol, and training a slew of psychological makeups and game strategies.

I also wanted to say, you reminded me of a statement I read in Millionaire Mindset. That we don’t sell our time, but we profit from our results. This industry for those of us looking to make a buck is about getting results that we mostly can’t make happen at will, so what results we can/do achieve have got to be worth it.

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I’m happy that I was able to give you something to think about.
Learning in poker includes small, persistent steps in a long journey :+1:

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This phrase here is very interesting, it is worth trying to maintain and keep the blinds.
It really is an interesting topic, I think we should always seek knowledge.

Mainly the final stretch of the tournament, where the blinds are high.

Thanks for the contribution

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I think the blinds are meant to be played and are always a target for the shove. Your chips are there already and somebody will try to bring more out from you. Myself I usually will call any 2BB if my hope cards are in my low to mid range . If I have too cards I ll go 5+BB depending on stack size not mine but the bettor’s because that’s the chips that are being offered.If I am short stacked I may go all in. I want to be able to call the bluff or back a strong hand. At the same time don’t want to fall into the bettor’s trap. You have ones that only strategy is to shove a and rely on no showdown . Then you have the poker player that bets enough to achieve their goal. But either way your purpose is to gather chips until you have all of them . Chips just sitting in front of you are not doing their job unless they go into the pot. It’s easy for the blinds and ante to devour a stack of chips sitting still .

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I am satisfied with the way I play nowadays , not a scared game like before , not scared money , and neither crazy fearless game . I spend blinds , I invest them nicely . If I had luck it would be good . I play enough hands , a greater range of cards in comparison to the past . But I dot get paid when I hit my hand , and no luck most of the times . That s sth I cannot control with my decisions or strategy changes .

I have had many such situations. that fear eats up my blinds .The blinds are high and I really want to get to the final table and bring more points to my team when I played in the league…
Then my captain advised that with such a tragedy you will never get into the top three. Now my tactics have changed and I’m not afraid of the big blinds

Another nice topic by naforole! Great Job :wink:
Everybody knows that situation when you feel it´s not gonna your day @table and the blinds are eaten up round by round because you wanna risk tournament life with silly cards or marginal hole cards against a preflop raise by chipleader who dominates the small stack players like you.
There is always a chance to fight back and steal also some blinds from other villains, sometimes you have only to watch the action and be patience for the right moment.

greets fellas

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the best advise i read about this subject is chips unused in front of you are so much useless rubble they have to be used to be of any use