Thursday, January 27, 2005

Posted by Junelli 4:00 PM
Stealing the Blinds
by Dave Rogers
from Two Plus Two Internet Magazine

There are players, very good ones, who make many final tables using a very simple approach. They accumulate a decent amount of chips and then use them like a club to keep hammering the blinds once the blinds get meaningful. You'll see them steal blind after blind, then sooner or later someone will call or raise. The blind stealer may fire out a shot on the flop or just look to see as many free cards as possible. They might fold if raised before the flop or bet out into the flop if checked to. The cards don't really matter for them, because they're just playing their stacks and position. Yet they succeed even though you and most of the other players know what they are doing, because for every time they are thwarted, they steal enough to cover. And then, just as the table is collectively trying to get the nerve together to put a stop to them, they get a legitimate hand, someone plays back at them and gets knocked out. That will usually be enough to put the table back in line.

That is the trick to the blind stealer's game. Sometimes they have the cards and are essentially playing them just like the standard ABC player. Sometimes they have rags but then hit the flop. Sometimes they've got nothing but pick up the blinds because of their aggression. Then at times they have nothing and have to lay down to a resteal or missed flop. Unlike the typical opponent, it is much more difficult to put the blind stealer on a range of hands. No one wants to be the one to look them up and find that they picked the wrong time to defend. So the blind stealer's aggression wins many uncontested small pots.

What lets them get away with this is the steady stream of chips they pick up. When they get played back at, they can either get away from their hands if they need to or see the flop as a significant dog because the pot is still laying them odds. Even as a 4-to-1 dog, a skilled blind stealer knows when he has either the odds or the implied odds to try to suck out. If he doesn't, he just folds.

Most players who study the game in order to improve know all of this, but aren't able to put it into practice successfully because it goes against the very first thing they learned once they decided to stop playing their "lucky hands" and actually think about their game. It is counter-intuitive to the starting hand requirements they've learned. It seemingly risks chips without the goods. Yet it works.

Here's why: Lets assume blinds of T200/T400 with a T50 ante 9 handed. Each pot starts out with T1050 in it. Obviously, you can't steal every blind. That becomes too obvious and you will get defended too often. What if you try to steal 3 blinds in a round and get caught once? Two times you make it T1,200 to go and take down the pot. So you're up T2,100. The third time your opponent pushes and you have to fold. You're still up T900. It's costing you T1,050 a round yourself, so even if you have both your blinds stolen, each round is now only costing you T150. Some times though, you'll actually get a hand or see a flop when you get called or raised. This is where you'll earn chips. You're essentially free rolling for the times that you hit your hand. The other players are simply waiting for good cards, so most rounds cost them the full T1,050. Sometimes they'll catch their hands, earn some chips and continue on. Other times they'll bust out because they haven't padded their stacks with other player's blinds.

Online, you can take it further. If you play a lot of tournaments at a particular level, you'll notice the same people playing the same way. You can create notes on those players who will play back at you, what they defend with and also who you can just push over. Armed with just this information you'll find yourself going much further into the money in the tournaments you play.

For many ABC type players, players who are probably earning money in tournaments, but not making it deep into the money often enough, this can be a tough transition. There is risk involved and there will be tournaments were everyone seems to call your steal attempts, or you finally hit a ragged flop only to lose all your chips to a better hand. If you keep at it, though, you'll find it works very well in the long run, especially when you've had more practice at it. This may be a very drastic transition from your normal game. You might want to try dropping down to lower buy in tournaments until you feel comfortable with moving back up to your normal level and beyond. You'll also start to see others using this style and understand what they are doing. You'll notice that these people who used to prey on you, now leave you alone and that you'll start to see them at your final table often.

1 Comment(s):

Posted by Blogger Dr Fro, at 11:01 AM, January 28, 2005  

I've tried it - many times.

Inevitably, I try to steal and the BB holds AA or something else that knocks me out.

I am sure the strategy is sound, because in the weekly tournament I always played in Aberdeen, the same guys always won with this just doesn't seem to work for me.


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