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Playing from the Small Blind

August 16, 2022
by Raise Your Edge

When it comes to playing first in from the Small Blind, most poker players are making big mistakes that have a drastic impact on their winrate. In fact, the Small Blind might actually be the most incorrectly played position at the table.

The Single Biggest Small Blind Mistake

The single biggest mistake players make from this position is simply being too hesitant to play when all other players fold. They’re afraid to play hands like T7o, J7s or 92s, because they think they’re supposed to “play it safe”. After all, what’s ½ a big blind lost in the grand scheme of things?

Now, normally the phrase “tight is right” is a mantra that you want to live by in poker, especially when starting out. However, even if you’re a beginner, the small blind is the exception to this rule.

Think about it, we’re already investing ½ of a big blind preflop, so when everyone else folds we only need to pay another ½ of a big blind to see a flop. Players in the big blind at low-mid stakes aren’t aggressive enough to punish you for doing this. In fact, over 70% of the time you’re likely to see a check-back. This means that even with hands like J7s and 93s you can limp in and try to see a flop.

(for important tips on how to play your big blind correctly – check out this article)

Facing a Raise in the Small Blind

Facing a raise, you’ll want to start defending a little more carefully, since the big blind is likely to have something decent. Players typically aren’t attacking the small blind enough, so a raise instead of a check back does indicate strength. Especially when your opponent raises to more than 3bb, it’s time to start folding your marginal and medium strength hands, and only continuing with something that can hit a big flop.

Folding too much from the Small Blind can drastically hurt your winrate over the long term. Every time you just fold preflop, you lose ½ a big blind. Over 100 small blind situations, that’s 50bb lost.

Limp in preflop, see a cheap flop, and take a stab at it with a c-bet. Often, especially at low stakes, your opponent will concede to your aggression and you’ll be able to rake in some small pots.

General Rule for Raising

Additionally, look to raise certain hands like A6o, or JTo that could fold to a big blind 3-bet, but often win the pot uncontested when your opponent folds. As a general rule for lowstakes, limp with your weakest hands, raise/fold your middling hands, and raise/call(or 4-bet) your best hands.

If you play pretty tight from the small blind currently, start small and work your way up. You don’t have to jump straight into playing 85% of your hands from this position. If you currently play 50%, start playing 55%, then 60% – slowly increasing your range as you adjust.

Just like with heads up play, blind vs blind is a situation where we have to be playing extremely wide ranges to maximize our profits. Take advantage of weaker players in the big blind and start playing more hands from this position.

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