Stealing Blinds

If you read my previous article, you already know how important it is to adjust to the position in poker. The later position, the more hands you can play profitably. You can notice, especially in late stages of tournaments and tight cash games, that poker there is basically all about stealing blinds.

Stealing blinds

Stealing blinds involves raising from a late position or the small blind with a wide range of hands, when it has been folded to you preflop, with the sole intention of making the remaining players fold and collecting the blinds they posted.

This can be a very effective preflop play both in tournaments and cash games but only when certain conditions are met.

Stealing blinds in tournaments

Stealing blinds is ineffective during early stages of tournaments. The blind-to-stack-size ratio is too low for this move to be worth risking your chips for and you are more likely to get called.

There is the opposite situation in later tournament stages. Most players are short-stacked – they have less than 20 big blinds in their stack. Stealing blinds is one of the most important ways to accumulate chips during those stages. When your stack is 10 big blinds, each successful steal attempt adds 15% to your stack (1.5 big blind). With such a small stack, you will be mostly raising all-in so your opponents will think twice before making a call.

Stealing blinds in cash games

Unless you play using a short-stack strategy, your stack will be usually big in relation to the blinds so each successful steal attempt will not win you a significant amount of money. However, if you steal blinds consistently against right opponents, all those small wins will make a nice bonus to your overall win rate.

Before deciding on stealing blinds, it is very important to know your opponents’ playing styles. Tight passive players are the best targets to steal blinds from as they very rarely defend and even when they do, they rather call than re-raise, giving you a chance to see the flop and hit a good hand. Whenever you are about to seat at a table with a tight passive opponent, always take a seat directly to their right so you will be able to steal blinds from them relentlessly.

Loose passive players can also be good to raise against with a wider range of cards preflop than normally. You will get called much more often but when you hit, those players will pay you. Generally it is better to seat to their left, though.

Against tight aggressive players, stealing blinds should be used with caution. They are usually thinking players that can notice when you raise too often and may fight back more frequently. You can still make a couple of successful attempts but do not overuse this play against such players.

You should not try to steal blinds from loose aggressive players at all. It may end up as a financial disaster for you. They are going to defend their blinds by re-raising you too often for stealing blinds to be profitable. Instead, you should rather stick to good starting hands and trap those maniacs or just never seat to their right. Against LAGs, having position is exceptionally important.

Conclusion on stealing blinds

Stealing blinds can be a good way to increase your win rate, if you use this play in the right circumstances. The importance of stealing blinds increases with stakes. If you play at microstakes, you do not have to steal blinds to be a winning player. You can just stick to good starting hands and make profit from the countless terrible players there.

More articles on specific poker plays:

 Check raise
 Continuation bet
 Double barreling
 Squeeze play

Go back to the Online Poker Strategy.