Playing the Big Blind

Posted by David Cowell on October 19, 2010 at 11:36 GMT

Being in the Big Blind position when playing No Limit Texas Hold’em can often present a dilemma. In many cases, you may be happy situation where you can get a free card by checking through, or even picking up the small blind if all the players in front of you fold. However, when there is a raise during the pre-flop betting, you then have the decision of whether to call or fold. Whereas the conventional rules of position suggest that you should call with only the best of opening hands, there are a couple of reasons why you may want to still get involved with more marginal cards.

The first reason revolves around the size of the bets in front of you. If there is one player who has bet 2x the big blind, you will be getting pot odds of 7/2 should you call the bet – so even if you think you only have a 28% chance of winning the hand, there is value in calling the bet. Where one player has raised by 3x the big blind and one other player has seen his bet, you then have to call with the equivalent of 2 big blinds into a pot of already 7.5 big blinds – again about a 7/2 call and representing value for cards that could catch a set or have the potential for a straight or draw.

The only tough decision you are going to face after the flop is if the hand remains a marginal option, and it costs more to go the final community cards. When you have connected on the flop, you can bet out strongly or check through if the flop has offered you nothing and fold if a bet comes back at you.

Part of your decision on whether to take advantage of the odds in your favour will be based around the betting tendencies you have identified in the players making the actions. If the player is generally a strong post-flop player, you might want to avoid giving your chips away when you already know that he is going to bet large in the next round of betting, irrespective of what happens in the flop. If you feel that the bets coming into you are from fairly weak players, you may be happy taking some cheap cards in the knowledge that you yourself could open strongly post-flop and pick up the pot without seeing another card. Remember though that the higher the number of players in a hand, the more chance that somebody will connect on the flop, and if it happens to be a particularly aggressive poker player, you could be throwing your chips away needlessly.

Keeping alert to the way that other players play their big blinds will help you gauge whether they are monitoring the betting tendencies of other players and aware of their pot odds and give you more options to mix up your game when it is your turn to play the Big Blind.