How to Play Well From the Big Blind

Playing from the big blind is difficult as this is always the worse position.

poker babe Shana Hiatt The Big Blind is the only position at the poker table where you often need to make a decision if you want to stay in the hand or not, given that you already paid the big blind. If everyone limps, this is easy as you can check or raise. If a player raised, do you call?

Let us start with the blind versus blind case, also called the "battle of the blinds".

Battle of the Blinds

An important notion is that in a battle of the blind situation, both players will generally show little respect for the other player's hand, especially in tournaments. The players usually have a poorer hand than what they represent.

In tournaments or in ring games, an otherwise rather straightforward opponent will often limp or raise with a wide range of hands from the small blind, getting aggressive with mediocre hole cards, as he only has to push one opponent to fold to win the pot.

Note that the only situation where the big blind has positional advantage is in a battle of the blinds. So no matter what the pre flop action was, the big blind will be in position all along, and as most hands miss the flop, he can exert pressure on the small blind to force him to fold if he does not have a good hand.

In this scenario, the worse the player in the small blind, the more profit you can make. Determine his main weaknesses and chase after him. Often in this spot, the bad players will systematically put you on weak hands and this is the time to be aggressive with your big hands.

You should often bluff or semi-bluff after the flop, especially in the earlier streets. For example if you flop a back-door flush draw, it is good move to raise the flop. If called, you can check the turn and get the free card or to continue with the bluff by second-barreling, depending on the ability of the SB to fold a medium-strength hand and on your image against him at this point.

Big blind versus limpers

When no one raised pre flop and there are one or more limpers with you in the hand, you can either check or raise. The drawback for raising from the BB is that if called, you almost certainly must play the hand out of position.

This is a perilous situation, as the flop will have over-cards a good percentage of the time. If you check the flop, your opponents can either steal the pot if they only have a draw or get a free card to beat you.

Against only one limper, raising is recommended, but against several players who limped, it is preferred to just check. Of course it also depends on the strength of your opponents. The better they play, the more you should check. If there are a lot of players who limp and they play very loose, raise with your strong hands to build a big pot.

Big Blind in a raised pot

If the pot was raised before you, you can either call or reraise. If you have a non-pair premium hand such as AJo or AQo, it is suggested to 3-bet or fold. As the strength of such hands becomes rapidly clear by the flop, it is usually more profitable to semi-bluff with them.

On the contrary, if you have middle pairs, their strength is rather hidden. Even a strong opponent can lose a lot of chips if his pair of kings is beaten by a set of sevens. So calling is preferred to raising.

Calling a raise heads-up from the big blind is almost never profitable, unless you have a big pair or a very strong ace like AK or AQs. The positional disadvantage is simply too great to overcome.

If the small blind raises a late position player, it is often a good play to call. If that late player limped or min-bet with a weak hand given that he was first in the pot in late position and he folds to the small blind's raise, you will be heads-up with the positional advantage for the rest of the hand.

But if the small blind had raised an early player, this is a totally different situation requesting a fold.

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