Do Not Touch My Blinds

“Do not touch my blinds! I’m going to go all in every hand if you keep touching my blinds.”– Tony G.

You constantly hear players, experts even, talk about defending the blinds. “Defend your blinds!

From what? The notion is that you’ve put a chip from your stack into the middle, and the cutoff, button, or small blind is attempting to steal it by raising before the flop. Somehow, you’re supposed to fight back and not let them run over “your” blinds.

This is a load of crap.

The first thing you need to do is disabuse yourself of the notion that the blinds belong to anybody. They don’t. They belong to the pot.

Once you put your chip in the pot, it is no longer yours. Novice players often overlook this concept when they call a flop and/or turn bet, then “throw away good money chasing the bad” on future streets. They see that there is a lot of “their” money in the pot, so they want it back. More accomplished players understand that this money no longer belongs to them. It’s just money in the pot, the same as the money your opponent put in there.

Why should things be any different before the flop? They’re not.

In Texas Holdem, the player to the dealer’s immediate left posts a small blind, and the next player posts a big blind. Then the cards are dealt. That blind money still sits in front of the players who put it in the pot, but it’s no longer their money. It’s really just an ante that provides those two players a discount to play the hand. The money belongs to the pot.

Everyone at the table “owns” a share of that blind money. So when the button open-raises, he’s not trying to steal your blind. He’s just fighting for his rightful share.

This comes down to the nature of theft.

Think of the pot as a bag of Twinkies in a corpse’s house after an apocalyptic disaster has eliminated all government. A group of survivors enters the house. Someone sees the Twinkies first, someone else is closest, and a third person might have a gun. It doesn’t matter how the indestructible cream-filled pastries got there or who they belonged to. Someone’s going to get the Twinkies. It’s usually the person in the best position, unless someone else has a gun. The money in the pot belongs to the button and cutoff just as much as it belongs to you.

Where does this leave us?

We’re right back to square one. Our only consideration when looking down at two cards in the blinds is “will I make or lose money by playing this hand?” Should I fight for this bag of Twinkies? When you’re out of position, the answer is usually “only if you have a gun.” Let’s focus on the hands that will make money, and toss the losers.

There are certain hands that will be playable against almost any opponent opening from any position. These include all pocket pairs, ace-king and ace-queen, and all suited Broadway cards. These hands will be playable almost regardless of the opener’s range, since they can all flop strong hands and strong draws. If your opponent holds a wide range, you will have good equity. If he’s opening from early position with a narrower range, your implied odds increase. You need an excellent reason to fold any of these hands before the flop for a single raise.

As the opener’s range becomes wider, you can profitably play more hands. Your implied odds will be lower, but you’ll have more semi-bluffing opportunities and have better equity against your opponent’s range. Chart No. 3 shows good default minimums for calling and re-raising from the big blind against a competent opponent opening from a particular position.

As with all of the charts in this book, these defaults are on the tight side. In fact, if you follow these guidelines and never make any adjustments, you will be playing too tight. These are the hands you should play against another reasonably skilled player. Remember to open it up and call with more hands against weaker opponents, or when other factors play in your favor.

Also remember that these guidelines are for a typical 100-blind online game. As stacks get deeper, you can play more weak suited aces, suited connectors and gappers, offsuit connectors and Broadway hands. These cards can often be played out of position in a super deep stacked game. Most of these hands either lose small pots or win big ones. Stack size doesn’t matter much when you try to play a small pot, since you’ll never be putting all of the money in anyway. When you want to play a big pot, however, having more money behind will give you a chance to get more value from your monster hands and apply more pressure with your semi-bluffs. So, with hands that can make big draws and big hands, the deeper, the better.

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