Playing from the Blinds
The big and small blinds are some of the hardest positions to play well. It’s a known-fact that players lose the most chips when they play hands from the blinds. Why?
First off, too many players consider a pre-flop discount to be a license to play whatever they want. Since they’ve already got some chips in the pot, people want to defend them too wide and make excuses to play junky cards. The problem is that when you play bad cards, even if you do hit the flop, you still don’t usually end up with a very good hand.
The second main reason that the blinds are harder than the rest is because you’re always going to be out of position after the flop. Since poker is a game of incomplete information, the person who acts later in the hand is always going to have an advantage, simply by having more information. The blinds are more difficult to play because you’re almost always going to act first.
First, think about your opponent’s opening position and range advantage. A tight player making an open raise from under the gun, for instance, is going to have a much stronger range than a loose player on the button who’s probably just trying to steal the blinds. Adjust your range accordingly.
Second, consider the playability of your hand. If you don’t have high cards, suited cards, or connectors, throw it into the muck.
Third, look at the stack sizes, which will determine the post-flop stack-to-pot ratio (SPR). In general, larger stack sizes have more leeway for bluffing and playing later streets.
Finally, think about your opponents’ post-flop strategy. If they’re passive you can get more aggressive or call with a wider range, but against someone who’s going to put up a lot of pressure, you might end up putting yourself in a bad situation.
Blind vs Blind
A special case of this is when everyone folds around to the blinds. How do you play then?
A lot of people employ a fold or raise strategy from the small blind. This helps polarize their range to more often steal the big blind and to make it harder for the big blind to punish the small blind after the flop for being out of position.
The big blind, however, can call wider because they close the action and get a better price, having already put one blind into the pot. Plus, the big blind is always going to be in position vs the small blind. This makes calling a small raise easy and will set you up to win the pot.