playing hands from the small blind

Playing Hands from the Small Blind

New Online Poker Poker Strategy

In this post we are going to explore playing from the Small Blind, this is probably the hardest place on the Poker table to play from, we are out of position against everyone for the whole hand so let’s see how we combat this…

The Suited Connector Conundrum

We all love to play suited connectors, but playing them without having position is tough, so let’s look at a good way to get involved with these decent hands when in the Blinds

Blinds 100/200 Tournament with 10,000 starting stacks effective so 50BBs deep

MP1: Raises to 600
Hero, SB:
 J♠ 9♠ Raises to 1,900
MP1: Calls

Flop: K♣ T♠ 6♥

Hero: ?

Here is a great example of why we want to pick up the betting lead… we have a decent flop for our hand here, but without the betting lead we would likely have to just check fold in this spot, because we can’t just call and hope to hit our inside straight draw, that would be a losing play.

But by getting aggressive we can bet fairly small on this board, we would do this with good hands like Top pairs and better, so we are protected this time when we just have a straight draw and backdoor flush draw.

In general, we can play these holdings from the Small Blind, but it’s better to go on the aggressive and re-raise to enter the pot when we are going to play. So this might mean that we play less of these types of holdings and then with our higher value suited connectors we can afford to raise, because we will be putting in fewer calls with hands like 6♣ 58♦ 7♦

This is a much better way to play these spots, try it in your game and you will see what a difference this will make.

Back to the hand in progress and we lead out for 1,500 and our opponent mucks their hand. This is a bad board for a tonne of holdings, hands like 22-99 will fold unless they have exactly 66 for a set that is and suited Ace high hands that will often call 3-Bets pre-flop have completely missed.

So we will get a tonne of folds on this board as a large part of our opponent’s range misses and for the times our opponent continues our hand is easy to play, we can look to keep betting on turns where we pick up a flush draw or hit our straight. We can also look to bet some cards which improve our draw like any 8 that will give us a two-way straight draw with any Queen or 7 completing our hand.

Other than these scenarios we have a pretty easy check fold on the Turn as our opponent is going to be heavily weighted towards having at least top pair if they call the Flop.

Limping in when first to act

Blinds 200/400 Tournament with our opponent having 16,000 effective, so we are 40BBs deep

Hero, SB: K♠ 5♠ Calls 400
BB: Checks

Flop: K♥ 7♦ 8♦

So we are going to want to have a very balanced strategy from the small blind that will include some limp folds, limp calls and limp raises. We do this because it makes us hard to play against, if our opponent looks to raise us, we could still continue, we might fold sometimes but we could re-raise too!

This hand definitely goes into the Limp-Call section, it’s a decent suited hand that can make some strong top pairs and flushes.

With stronger hands from this position we could look to raise too, but we would want at least a hand like K9s, A7s, QJo too raise and call a 3-Bet and we would need to balance this with hands that we would raise fold with using A6o, 75s, 97o for example.

We previously went into this in a pretty big way in the post How to Play from the Small Blind But for those who missed that one, here’s a little recap on how to play a balanced range from the Small Blind:

small blind rangessmall blind chart key

These concepts might seem a little tricky to wrap your head around at first, but it’s not too tough once you start to implement these lines.

Hero, SB: Bets 1,000
BB: Calls

When we are taking this to the streets we definitely want to start betting with this hand and theres a couple of reasons for this, we have a good top pair hand in a limped pot where we are likely to have the best holding so we can build the pot for value.

We can also get called by loads of worse hands here, there are a tonne of draws with straight draws and flush draws on board.

When we look at how we would play our whole range here, we could put this hand in our value section that will be balanced with our semi bluffs, so whilst we might bet top pair here for value we would also bet combinations of diamonds and many of our straight draws in this manner to apply pressure.

Turn: A

Hero, SB: Bets 3,000
BB: Calls

Whilst it might look scary, this is a relatively blank card in my eyes, what Ace high hand is our opponent going to have here? AJ? Ace-high Diamond draws?

Most of our opponents Ace high holdings would raise pre-flop, and there aren’t many holdings that could just randomly continue on the flop that contains an Ace.

For those reasons I like just firing here, we can still get a tonne of value from all the draws we mentioned.

River: 7

Hero: ?

The Final board reads K♥ 7♦ 8♦ A♣ 7♣ which looks kind of scary on paper as we no longer have top pair and even any random 7 that our opponent has just made three of a kind on the River.

All of that information is pretty deceptive though because, for the same reasons we discussed that the Ace isn’t that much of a scare card for us, neither is the 7, it’s nearly impossible for any hand that contains a 7 to call both Flop and Turn bets. So this too is a blank.

We don’t need to bet this hand now though, we can’t really get called by anything other than a very stubborn pair of eights, so with all the draws missing our best way of getting value here is to use our hand as a bluff catcher and hope that our opponent bets with there missed straight or flush draws.

This can be a daunting River play because we are baiting our customer into making a huge move, so get ready to make a huge hero call if they push all-in here.

Hero: Checks
BB: Checks and shows Q♦ 9♦

In this case, our opponent didn’t manage to pull the trigger and I don’t blame them, there are a tonne of hands that miss and they probably didn’t want to risk their tournament on a huge bluff that looks a lot like a bluff.

Maybe they thought they had a little showdown value too, as they too actually beat worse flush draws and any open-ended straight draw like T9, 96, 65!

Sum Up

Try not to play too loose! It’s easy to see a pretty looking hand and want to play it and we can do this to some extent, but try and use these playable holdings like suited connectors as 3-Bets, this is really going to help balance the rest of your 3-Bets for when you have hands like JJ+ for instance.

Use the range guide when playing from the Small Blind when the action is folded to you, we are going to want to be unpredictable from this position and not just pick any old hand and think I’ll raise this. Look to limp to get value from weaker hands post-flop when we have playable hands and we and mix this strategy with limp folds and limp raises too.

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