I was playing cards at my weekly poker get-together not long ago. We gather round, spin some tunes, drink aplenty and generally try to fit in three or four $20 buy-in no-limit hold em tournaments in an evening.
That night, the player seated to my right was a semi-regular attendee with a reasonably solid game.
As the night progressed, he warned someone across the table about stealing his blinds, preaching that he would defend them no matter what. I immediately made a mental note of that, watching the next couple rounds to see if this was true. It was. Every time someone raised into his blind somewhat minimally, he would make the call, regardless of his hand.
Those among us who play the game regularly know the importance of paying attention during the match, recognizing betting patterns and then exploiting them to your advantage.
At the poker table, unless I’m at my regular game, I won’t say much for fear that one of my opponents may pick up on aspects of my game. Let this be a lesson. When seated at the poker table, don’t tell someone that you’ll defend your blinds to the death!!! If they know what they’re doing, they’ll put statement that to the test. You may think such a bold announcement may intimidate your opponent. In fact, it will have the reverse effect.
As the night progressed, with the number of players narrowed down to just three, every time I was on the button, putting the player to my right on the big blind, I punished him. I’d raise three or four times the big blind, even with a mediocre hand to test his will.
I eventually wore him down, exploiting his stubbornness, making him lose concentration and taking him off his game. Once you take an opponent out of his element, he’ll lose confidence and may begin to play erratically. That’s when to go in for the kill.
Remember, defending your blinds is not that important in poker. Stealing others people’s blind is. Now that doesn’t mean you should be pushed around the poker table. But there’s no sense fighting over chips with a sub-par hand. Let it slide and pick your spots.
And more importantly, if someone tells you he always defends his blinds, when you get a monster hand, raise into him heavy and see if he’s willing to put his chips where his mouth is. More often than not, they’ll end up in your stack.
This post originally written Feb. 17, 2007