Protecting Blinds in Poker Tournaments

An issue you will have to address when playing in a no limit texas hold em poker tournament is how often you should protect your blinds. If you are lucky, most of the time when you are in one of the blind positions, you will win the pot without a fight, or opponents will limp and you will get to see a flop for free.

However, many players know that it is a good idea to try to steal the blinds from a late position, so you will have to know how to deal with this. Of course you have to consider your holding before the flop. Some players overdefend their blinds. They feel it is a personal insult that someone would attack their blinds, and call or re-raise as a matter of ego. This is usually a recipe for disaster.

It may work a few times, but an observant opponent will take notice and trap you when they happen to get a strong hand in late position. On the other hand, if you let opponents steal your blinds consistently, it will happen every round, and become costly.

In general it’s okay to call a reasonably sized raise from a late position player with a good hand that is not a premium one. You may in fact want to re-raise to discourage stealing. You may want to lead out with a moderate bet on the flop even if you miss since it is very likely the player attempting to steal will bet if you don’t, no matter what comes on the flop.

You should observe your opponents to gain some idea of whether it is a loose player raising in late position who is likely to be on a steal, or one who has only been coming in with premium hands and is likely raising you with a real hand. As the tournament bubble approaches, the big stacks will likely be attacking the blinds more aggressively, using the threat of eliminating opponents short of the money to their advantage.

You will have to decide whether you are trying to win or simply survive, and whether you can achieve this goal if you allow continued assault on your blinds. If not, you will have to take a stand at some point. Having your blinds stolen occasionally will not ruin your tournament, especially early in the tournament, and especially if you are doing some stealing yourself when the situation is right.

However, you need to show some aggression in defending your blinds if they are being attacked too much, otherwise, like the bully in the schoolyard, your opponents will keep coming back for more.