Defending the Big Blind
Many players make this play by default. When facing a raise from the big blind, they instinctively call because they’ve got it in their head that they need to ‘defend the blind.’
You might think, “well, I’ve already got some chips in the pot. This means I’m getting better pot-odds on a call than I otherwise would, so I should go for it.” Or maybe you’re afraid of getting pushed around, thinking that if you fold then people will always raise you to try to “steal the blinds.”
This is flawed logic. In actuality, we want to fold the big blind way more often than we “defend” it.
It’s All About Position
Let’s take an extreme example: everyone folds around to the button, who then raises 100% of hands. The small blind folds, and you’re in the big blind. What do you call with?
If we do the math, we find that K5 is 50/50 against a random hand. So, does that mean we should call with K6? How about A5? Or T9s? Where do we draw the line?
The problem, however, is that this calculation doesn’t factor in position, which is actually one of the most important elements of poker. Acting last in a hand gives you a huge advantage since poker is an information game. Even if you’re hand is 60% to win the pot, you’re probably not going to realize that 60% equity if you’re out of position.
Remember, there’s no shame in folding. Don’t feel like you’re being pushed around or showing weakness. In truth, you’re being strong by making disciplined decisions.
The other mental switch we need to make is releasing ownership of the big blind. Those chips are no longer ours. They’re dead chips in the pot. Once we stop thinking to ourselves, “well, I’ve already put 50 chips into the pot, so I’m already in the hand,” we’ve come a long way towards playing better poker.
If you’re a competitive player, winning is all that matters. It doesn’t matter how a play looks or if we’re ‘giving up’ too often. Make the right play and the chips will follow.