Stealing Blinds in Poker Tournaments

Stealing Blinds and AntesAs you get deeper and deeper into poker tournaments, the increasing blinds and antes place more and more pressure on your stack. Because of this, you are forced to make aggressive plays to maintain your stack and survive until the later stages. One of the simplest ways to survive is by occasionally stealing the blinds/antes.

Each pot has quite a few chips in it just from the blinds and antes, and most of the time no one has a premium hand. Because of that, aggressive players are able to steal the blinds and antes in the right spots, which helps them pad their stack and survive.

The most important part about successfully stealing blinds is knowing when to do it. This article will explain the best times for stealing blinds, and exactly how to do it:

When to Steal Blinds/Antes

Stealing blinds early on is not essential because the blinds are not significant enough to matter; however, as the game advances, so do the blinds. Stealing blinds in the mid to late stages of a tournament is very crucial. In the early leg of the tournament, you can't go for the blinds aggressively because it is nothing for your opponents to call you. If you are going to steal a blind, you don't want your opponents to call you. You need to win the blind and move on.

When the blinds grow larger in comparison to your chip stack, you should steal the blinds at least once per round. This will pad your stack and allow you to maintain an average stack and not fall behind in the tournament. Winning means increasing your chip stack and preparing your bank roll for the final table. Therefore, your goal from the beginning should be to win, not just to make the final table. You should be in an aggressive frame of mind; poker tournaments are not won by passive players.

This aggressiveness should pick up during the mid stage of the tournament because this is the time when players begin to tighten up their play, not defending their blinds as much. Players are less likely to gamble at this point because they want to sustain their chips. This fact is particularly true in no-limit.

In Limit Texas Hold'em, stealing blinds is achievable with any decent hand when playing from late position, including hands such as 8-7 suited, 10-8 suited, Q-8, A-X, any pair, etc. The structured betting in Limit suggests you only attempt to steal blinds if all other players ahead of you have folded, leaving only the blinds and you.

How to Steal in No Limit Hold'em

For No-Limit Texas Hold'em tournaments, you can be more aggressive. Your raise should be typically 3-4 times the amount of the big blind, rather than 2 times the big blind, as in Limit Hold'em. When you do this, it is a good idea to attack middle sized stacks as opposed to big stacks or small stacks. The reason is because big stacks have chips to blow, so they might call your raise just to look you up. Alternatively, small stacks have little to lose, so they might re-raise all in with a mediocre hand just to make a play.

Don't forget your opponents might be utilizing the same strategies to steal the blinds from you with any hand from late position. By being aware of this, you can re-steal their steals. Don't give credit to other players at all for a decent hand if they raise from late position in late stages of the tournament (keywords being late position and late stage in the tournament).

This is especially true if one player is pounding your big blind over and over when the rest of the table folds to him. In this case you have to make a stand, because you're losing a lot of chips to him. Make a re-raise of 3-4x his raise the next time he does it, and he'll reconsider raising your blind in the future.

The exception to this would be when a tight player only raises with good hands in any position. You should avoid this player unless of course you have a great hand which you believe will beat his, but even in this situation, you should exercise caution.

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