Cash Game Blinds

by snoopy
Submitted by: snoopy on Fri, 28/12/2007 - 1:05am

In the world of tournament poker, the blinds are of the utmost importance. When it comes to the latter stages of comps, knowing how to adjust to the increasing blinds is a vital skill that if mastered could be the difference between hitting the bubble and taking home thousands. Get it wrong though, and you could find yourself back on that motorway in a jiffy.

In ring games, however, the blinds hold less significance due to (1) the increased stack sizes compared to the blinds and (2) the lack of any clock or blind levels. But incredibly, even with this information at hand, I still witness people treating the blinds as highly desirable commodities.

First and foremost, if you sit with the maximum amount (which is predominantly 100 times the big blind), the value of your blind is next to nothing. Therefore, defending it becomes an almost worthless practice. If someone’s that desperate to take your blind, then let them. Calling a pre-flop bet out of position with a weak holding will only cause you problems and create difficult decisions.

On the flipside, attacking the blinds is similarly pointless. Unless you can spot various traits in which, say, you know the blind is likely to call a pre-flop raise and then fold to a bet on the flop, constantly trying to steal them becomes a fruitless exercise that is likely to lose you money in the long run.

People seem to be convinced that because they have a couple of bucks in the pot already, then they are virtually committed to playing any two cards. In ring games, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Once your money is in the pot, it is no longer yours, and whilst in tournaments it may be worth trying to win them back due to their considerable size, in cash games you should be prepared to let them go more often than not. Their value is just too insignificant to worry about, and playing hands just because you already have some shrapnel in the pot is a bad habit that you really should avoid pursuing.

Sometimes, however, if you are on the big blind and you have the option to check, you will be obliged to see a Flop and play the hand in some form or another. If it’s a multiway pot and you have a vulnerable holding, then play with caution. A big leak I witness is when people hit top pair with a weak kicker and refuse to let it go. Too often someone further along the table has you out-kicked, and if they don’t, then you’re probably not going to win a big pot anyhow.

If, say, you hold Q-5 in a 5 handed pot and the Flop brings Q-7-6, then my advice would be to simply check. If someone bets than feel free to re-raise to find out where you stand, but make sure it is a big enough re-raise to push them off a draw. Otherwise, if they call, you won’t be sure if they have the draw or the top pair with a bigger kicker. What I would avoid doing too frequently is betting out. Although many may scoff at this suggestion, I simply feel that whilst you may pick up the pot there and then, too often you’ll either run into top pair with a bigger kicker or be called by another hand and subsequently presented with a tricky decision come the Turn, especially if you have top pair on a raggy flop. For me, cash games are about winning big pots, not small ones, and whilst you may pick up the odd pot by betting out, you run the risk of losing a big one if you are beat and find yourself calling down the streets.

If, however, it were just you and the blind, then I’d use the advice that was once related to me by a certain ‘name’ player. If I remember correctly, he advised me to bet any pair or draw in a heads up confrontation and then bet out again if called. From my experience, this has reaped its rewards. With just two of you involved, the likelihood is that your opponent doesn’t have a monster, so take the initiative and bet any sort of hand. You can do it with absolutely nothing if you feel he will fold, but my preference is to have some sort of holding so that if he does call, I can still hit.

In cash game poker, blinds aren’t a crucial part of the game, but it is worth knowing how to play them effectively so you can pick up the odd pot whilst avoiding losing any major ones unnecessarily. Be sure that when you make the transition over from tournaments to cash that you understand the ineffectualness of the blinds and realise that most of those tournament plays that you made due to the existence of the blinds goes straight out of the window.

The key thing to note is that most of the time you will be out of position with a poor hand, so be sure not to invest too much into the pot from the blinds. It may seem like only a few dollars here and there, but it could cost you a lot of money in the long run.