Stealing [Cash Games]
I posted this in the Micros Stakes thread already and got some very good feed back, in the interest of this not getting lost though I am reposting it on its own, hopefully this will generate some additional good discussion.
All right, here are my thoughts on stealing. If there is anything I left out got wrong etc let me know or start debating it.
Stealing is open raising from late position with the intention of taking “Stealing” the blinds uncontested. For our purposes I am only proposing stealing the blinds from the Button, the Cutoff and the Hijack seat. For people who have been playing awhile, blind stealing is a very common and necessary strategy for tournaments. Blind stealing does have its place in cash games as well just not exactly the same as for tournament.
The first thing to realize about stealing blinds in cash games is that the blinds usually represent a minuscule portion of a players chip stack. That is to say when playing 5nl, with the blinds of .02/.05 the big blind is only equal to 1/100th of a full stack. This is in stark contrast to Tournaments where the blinds can represent a much larger percentage of the average players stacks depending on the stage of the tournament.
Then why do it you might ask? For a couple of reasons, the first of which is free money. If the blinds are weak tight players they will often surrender them without a fight even if they know you are stealing. Good players know that the blinds are just the cost of playing and won’t go crazy defending their blinds as they will be OOP (out of Position) the entire hand. Bad players will look at their cards and decide well J2o is too weak so I will fold. That is the first reason. Not very lucrative for sure but some players are so weak tight they will NEVER play back at a blind stealer with out a monster hand so if you find these players steal away.
The second reason why a player is going to want to engage in blind stealing is image manipulation. If the blinds know you are a blind stealer and are a somewhat thinking players they know you can’t always have a hand good enough to call a re-raise (3bet) so they will start 3-betting you light. Admittedly at the micro levels there aren’t a lot of thinking players but we all start somewhere and if you are going to be stealing blinds you need to understand how to counter it. Now we have a situation where the blinds think you are just a brazen thief and will steal with ATC, now is the time where with a little luck you can trap them into playing a big pot OOP.
Now you have been stealing the blinds are playing back at you, now is when you need to tighten back up. If you are lucky enough to pick up a big hand AA-JJ etc, and raise, the blinds could very well think you are just stealing again and will be 3betting you with a much wider range than they would typically have, now you can drop the hammer and 4-bet shove on them or smooth call and see a flop. Now because of you earlier thievery you have created a very favorable situation for yourself, playing a big pot in position.
It is important to note that just because the blinds might be playing back as you that don’t think they don’t have a big hand, there is no rule against the blinds being dealt wired Aces. As always with poker it depends is usually the correct answer will need to be paying attention to the your opponents play.
Above are a couple of reasons to steal, there are also reason/situations that you don’t want to steal. Don’t steal as often when the blinds call a lot if you aren’t a great post flop player. Don’t steal if you can make more money off of your opponents because you can outplay them post flop
I don't play or know much about 6-max so I not sure how much or if any of this applies there.