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Best of Fred Renzey

Gaming Guru

 

In Texas Hold'em, Being a "Blind" Is Tricky

12 September 2008

In Texas Hold'em poker, the first two players to act must put money in the pot before they're even dealt any cards. That's why they're called "blinds". Everybody else gets to see their two hole cards for free.

In a limit $5/$10 Hold'em game, for example, the first player must "blind-it-up" for $2, and the second bets $5 -- blind. These two players are called the "small" and "big" blinds. This is what creates the initial pot for everybody to fight over, because in Hold'em there is no ante. All the cards are then dealt, and the rest of the players must either call the $5 bet, raise it to $10, or fold.

Since no other players have to put any money into the pot if they don't want to, they can fold all their bad hands at no cost. But the blinds get stuck paying for lots of hands they never would've played, if they weren't already "part way" in, so-to-speak. This is why even very good Hold'em players lose money when it's their turn to be a "blind".

Lots has been written about what starting hands are worth paying money to see a flop with, but not much has been said about how to play when you're already in blind. So let's touch lightly on that subject right here.

Playing when you're the big blind ($5 in a $5/$10 game) is not all that tricky. If nobody raised it to $10 by the time the action gets back around to you, you're automatically in to see the flop –- nice and easy. If somebody did raise, it'll cost you another $5 (unless you want to re-raise it to $15), or you must fold. When it is raised, you need a good hand to pay that extra $5 and play. Otherwise, just donate your $5 blind to the pot and fold.

Being the small ($2) blind is much more delicate. When the betting comes back around to you, even if there was no raise, you're still going to owe $3 (because everybody else in the hand paid $5). Now, since you can get in at a "discount", you don't need that good a hand to pay $3 and take a look at the flop. Don't be a sucker, though, and call habitually just because you can get in cheap. For instance, suppose you have:

Qd/9h

Three or four players merely called the $5 blind and now it's up to you. Throw your hand away. Queen/9 doesn't have enough potency to call even a half bet when other players have already indicated they can call a full bet. Give up your lousy two bucks –- and fold.

So then, when can you pay the other $3 and see a flop in the small blind? That always depends upon how many players are in the pot. If just one or two players called, you should probably play with something like an A/10, a K/J or Q/J minimum.

But if several players are in, then your "drawing" hands like 8/9 unsuited or 6/5 suited will be getting good money odds to see a flop. If you can flop an open-ended straight draw or a four-flush for $3, there will be plenty enough bets in the pot to go all the way trying to complete your hand.

How about when you're the small blind and everybody folds around to the last player (known as the "button") -- then he raises it to $10? Seeing a flop in this spot will cost you $8. Realize that the raiser might just be trying to steal the blind money. If you have enough to call, like maybe a Q/J, the big blind might decide to call the extra $5 and see a flop with you. All that does is give you an extra player to beat and makes playing beyond the flop trickier for you. Better to re-raise it to $15, and probably get it down to you and the original raiser.

Fred Renzey
Fred Renzey is a high-stakes, expert poker player. On a daily basis he faces--and beats--some of the best players in the country in fierce poker room competition. Now for the first time, Renzey offers his perceptive insights on how to play winning poker. For Fred's 13-page blackjack booklet "Ace/10 Front Count", send $9 to Fred Renzey, P.O. Box 598, Elk Grove Village, IL, 60009

Books by Fred Renzey:

> More Books By Fred Renzey

Fred Renzey
Fred Renzey is a high-stakes, expert poker player. On a daily basis he faces--and beats--some of the best players in the country in fierce poker room competition. Now for the first time, Renzey offers his perceptive insights on how to play winning poker. For Fred's 13-page blackjack booklet "Ace/10 Front Count", send $9 to Fred Renzey, P.O. Box 598, Elk Grove Village, IL, 60009

Books by Fred Renzey:

Blackjack Bluebook II

> More Books By Fred Renzey