Stealing the Blinds



God, I love these articles by Daniel Negreanu. Another great one I read about stealing the blinds. The article explains that stealing the blinds is a great strategy if used correctly. It what determines a great tournament player from an average one. Great tournament players steal blinds effectively.

Blinds and/or antes go up as a tournament goes on so you can't constantly wait for the good hands to come. You need to steal the blinds and antes to keep your stack from being eaten by the blinds and antes.

The article points out a few things to keep in mind when stealing the blinds.

Usually raising if you're the big blind when only a few players limp. However, you must also determine what kind of players you're dealing with when you do this. If the player is loose and aggressive, it may not be a good idea. If the player is tight, raising in the big blind should work very well. The tight players are the ones you need to look for while you attempt to steal the blinds from the Big Blind.

Speaking of Big Blind, your position is very important. The Big Blind is the best position at the table. Late position should work just as well. The less players behind you, the better. So attempting to steal the blinds while in early position is not a good idea due to bad position.

Your table image is also important. If your table image is very aggressive, it would be difficult to steal the blinds. If this is the case, wait for a strong hand. If your image is tight-aggressive, it should be easier to steal the blinds. Don't overdo it though because you may lose that image isf someone calls you.

Your stack size also comes into play. If you're shortstacked deep into a tournament, you shouldn't attempt to steal the blinds becuase you're not a threat to the bigger stackes who will call you with a marginal hand hoping to knock you out. So, it's not recommended that you blind steal. Wait for a good hand and go all in. If you're one of the big stacks, attempt to steal the blinds as often as you can and bully the shortstacks out of the pot and their blinds in your chipstack.

Overall, you need to pay attention to everything that is going on at the table so focus on these factors: whose blinds should you steal, what seat you're in, do opponents see you as a thief, and how much ammunition you have.

What do you think?


I've been finding myself more and more in the later stages of tournaments, where blind stealing is crucial. It's something i've been practicing alot lately.
I agree with everything you said, Tim.
Big factors (like you said) are your stack size, and the blinds' stack sizes, both your table images, and of course your position.
Another key factor is the time into the tourney. You will definitely find it harder to steal blinds in the early stages of a tourney, rather than the later stages, like around the bubble (which is hands down the best time to steal blinds)
When you're the big stack, i like to absolutely POUND on the smaller stacks. You wouldn't believe the kinds of hands smaller and medium stacks will fold because of your aggression. Some get scared of raising a K9 type hand, but when you've stolen say 10 raises worth in blinds, that one more raise is's well worth the risk to keep stealing those blinds and antes.
BUT you always have to remember who you're stealing from. Observant or tricky players will play back if they have a big enough stack, so don't overdo it.
Nice post tim.


Remember their is a big difference in the tournaments he's playin and the ones your are playing online. Most of those tournaments aren't the semi-turbo ones we've become accustom to online. Stealing blinds is necessary obviously, but it is totally dependent on the players your against. The easiest defend is the big reraise to the stealers or my other favorite for the donks that raise crap from the bb is to punish them. Push all in on them, reraise them again. Most of the time the amount your going to have to bet to actually steal the blind other then from the very tightest will put you in a world of hurt if they reraise you a few times and you have to fold. Stealing really is an art form. You could be like some players I know that look like they are playing nut tight but then as the tournament gets tight towards the end they get much more aggressive and your not going to pick up on it right away and can't be sure that they actually don't have someting. It is something that you do need to practice.


Rock Star
I'm currently reading Harrington's Vol. 2 book and this exact point is brought up. You're pretty much right on the money with everything you posted. Harrington goes a step further and suggests you target players in the middle of the pack chipwise. His theory is that a big stack will call you just because they can, a low stack is desperate and can call with anything, while a mid range stack is trying to grow and weary of becoming short stacked.


Rising Star
In the latter stages of a tourney you have to be able to steal to survive. I like to attempt a steal only when I've been on table long enough to be able to pick up weakness from other players still involved in hand.


Last night in a SNG actually was able to practice this.

I was the chip leader due to taking two people out on a straight. Had about 8K next biggest 3.5k in chips. Blinds at 200/400 level.

Five people left, I started taking the blinds. At least two a round. One guy asked me how I able to call to raise on every hand. I said not every hand. He then called me on the one hand I had which was AQ and I put him out. After that I took my stack up to 13k just by stealing the blinds. Only about 1 out of 5 times did I get called.


Rock Star
Stealing the blinds is a big partr of my sit and go startegy. I play really tight throught the sng and then when i get a good hand i raise and usually end up with the blinds. If you do this it gives you enought chips to stay alive comfotably and usually finish in the money.


I had read from an unamed author that stealing the blinds is important just like anyother pro will tell you. He has come up with the formula that you should be stealing the blinds 1.3 times every rotation of the button. This allows you to continuously grow your chipstack to necessitate the blind increases. By stealing the blinds 1.3 times every rotation your stack will grow by stealing instead of breaking even with the blinds. 1.3 really calculates to 4 times every 3 rotations. So just say you are at 50/100 blinds and are playing approx. 50 hands an hour and the blinds increase every every 90 min. Now by stealing 1.3 times every rotation you are gaining 45 chips every rotation during this round. If you were to play approx. 75 hands during that level you have gained roughly 340 chips for the next round. with the next level being 75/150 you have gained roughly 2.5 big blinds for the next level. I have tried this and it is good for me to stay with the avg. chip count if I am not getting too many hands or keep myself gaining something rather than losing.