When to raise in the Blinds?

djrudeboy

djrudeboy

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Oct 21, 2007
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Most of the time one checks or calls in the blinds. What kinds of hands should you raise with pre-flop and why?
 
Cheetah

Cheetah

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That's a huge question!:)

In cash games, stealing blinds is not that important, so the BB should be happy to check behind with a lot of hands, and bet good hands to sweeten the pot and take initiative. The SB should complete with a lot of marginal hands. In both cases, the implied odds are very big. Raising cuts down those odds in most cases(unless the stacks are very deep). Also, the SB is OOP, so should be more careful.

In tournaments, in middle and late stages, this changes as blinds are now worth stealing.

The BB should raise a lot of good hands(pairs and high cards) to take the pot. If SB calls, BB still has positional advantage.

The SB, however, is in much worse shape. Raising even with hands like AQ are a problem when called. Most of the time the flop misses, and the SB has dillema: Do I bluff at the pot and risk a lot of my chips(because I raised pre-flop and the pot is now big), or do I check, and the BB bluffs me out? This is why I prefer raising with pairs from the SB, especially higher pairs, not drawing hands.

Another issue in tourneys is the stack sizes of both players. In another post I showed that if you bet say 3big blinds, and you are re-raised all-in, you have to call if your stack(or that of your opponent) is about 5 times that of your raise. In this example, if you have less than 15BB, and you raise 3BB (from either blind), and get re-raised, you have the odds to call and must call. So therefore, from the SB, it is best to raise all-in in the first place when this occurs. This maximizes FE and negates positional disadvantage.
(If anyone is interested in the details of this bet-sizing formula, let me know.)

From the BB, a smaller raise may be better since if you get called, you still have position and can act accordingly on the flop.

In both cases, raising with drawing hands like SC or small pairs is not a good idea since there are no implied odds for that. Small pairs, of course, are good all-in hands from the blinds when you are short-stacked.

Any larger pair is a good raising hand. And big cards are raising from the BB.

Another factor is how relatively tight the blind players are. If you have a huge stack, and the other blind has a tiny stack, you can raise all-in with most hands, even garbage like 34o. If called, you will be behind probably around 3 to 2 on average. But the steal attempt will succeed far more often than that, so it is a gold mine. When I am fortunate enough to have a huge stack against a tiny stack, especially near a major bubble, I raise their blinds EVERY TIME. I even feel sorry for them because I know how it feels when I am the tiny stack:( .

To summarize, I would say some of the factors involved are:
For SB:
  1. When blinds are small, tend to complete with decent hands like high cards, small pairs and big SCs.
  2. When blinds are big, complete with large unpaired hands(drawing hands) and raise with most bigger pairs. Don't raise with drawing hands and small pairs because you are making a big pot with a drawing hand OOP.
  3. If the smaller stack is less than 5 times your intended raise, then move all-in.
  4. If you have a very large stack and the BB has a tiny stack, abuse the BB by raising every time with any 2 cards
For BB:
  1. When blinds are small, raise good hands for value and check the rest. Good hands in this case would be high cards, bigger pairs and high SC.
  2. When blinds are big, raise with big cards, bigger pairs and big SCs. The intention is to win the pot, but if called, you have position and a hand that welcomes flops.
  3. If the smaller stack is less than 5 times your intended raise, then move all-in.
  4. If you have a very large stack and the BB has a tiny stack, abuse the SB by raising every time with any 2 cards
I am sure there are many other considerations. Some involve the Sklansky-Chubukov numbers (described in one of Sklansky's books, if interested, let me know and I will summarize what they mean). But in general, in tourneys, I would first look at the situation, including what player the other blind is, stack sizes, etc, and only after that at my cards.
 
Last edited:
Egon Towst

Egon Towst

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Jun 26, 2006
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Excellent reply, Cheetah. :congrats:
 
ratmantoo

ratmantoo

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Sep 9, 2007
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Very interesting Cheetah...good reply. Yeah also feel sorry for that small blind cos its normally me:D:D
 
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