How to Play the Big Blind Position

A poker player with the big blind button checks his hole cards.

While some people may only think about whether they have to put money in for the pot, your position in a game of offline or online poker can dramatically change your approach to the game and whether you win or lose. Here we’re going to learn more about the big blind and how this position will affect the way you play.

What are blinds?

Whether you play poker online or in person, before we get into the strategy of playing the big blind position, it’s important that every player has a clear understanding of what blinds are. 

In every game of poker, there are two blinds: the small blind and the big blind. The small blind is the player positioned directly to the left of the dealer button. This player is expected to contribute a portion of the total blind amount (the minimum bet) towards the pot at the start of the game. The big blind is the player positioned directly to the left of the small blind and is expected to pay the total blind amount towards the pot at the start of the game. 

The purpose of blinds is to ensure that there is money in the pot that players can compete for. Without it, every player could check their hole cards and decide to fold, meaning that a player who would be willing to play their hand wouldn’t have anything to win. 

What overall strategy should you adopt when you are the big blind?

In order to succeed, every position in poker, including the big blind, requires a different strategy, whether you’re playing live poker online or enjoying a competitive game in person. While every position needs a plan of action, it’s especially important for the big blind position as this is where most players lose the most money in the long run. This is because players in this position must act with the least amount of information. So what type of strategy should you adopt if you are the big blind? 

That depends on which round you are playing, because when you act changes from pre-flop to post-flop. The big blind position starts off as a late position pre-flop that changes to an early position post-flop. While there are a few benefits to this, the reality is that you have no choice regarding whether you place a bet or not; the big blinds must always place the minimum wager before the flop. So while you may have the choice to fold, call or raise depending on how other players have acted before the flop, you cannot protect your bankroll as much as someone in a true late position simply because you have already committed your blind bet to the pot. 

Overall, the person with the greatest advantage throughout the entire game is the person with the dealer button, also referred to as the BTN, since they will always be the last to act in every street post-flop. 

If you are the big blind, here’s how you should approach the game:

  • Pre-flop: Use this round to gather as much information as possible on your opponents and the strength of their hands. If a player has raised, it’s a good idea to only call or raise them if you have a very strong hand. If no one raises pre-flop, you can call to see what community cards appear post-flop. If you have a very weak hand, it’s best to fold rather than risk additional money post-flop.
  • Post-flop: Post-flop, you need to adopt an early position strategy, as you will be the second player to act. As an early position player, it’s recommended you only play strong hands to increase your chances of success. This is because you won’t get to see how the other players act, so your decisions are made using less information. For example, a pair of tens or higher is something you should consider playing from an early position. 

How to defend the big blind

A poker player goes all in.

Even if you are the big blind, there are some tips that you can use to defend your position:

  • Try to identify the range of your opponent’s hand: While some players may be able to bluff convincingly, the majority of players will behave a certain way depending on the strength of their hand. A player with an early position who raises early likely has a strong hand. In this case, it may be better to play more defensively and only act if you have a really strong hand. On the other hand, a player in the late position who raises is less likely to have a strong hand, meaning you can play rounds out, even if you don’t have the nuts.
  • You need to defend more often if raises are small before the flop: In order to minimize your losses in the long term, you need to face down your opponents who are only raising by small amounts (assuming your bankroll allows for it.) These opponents won’t always be trying to trap you and may have a weaker hand than you expect. However, if you fold, any potential winnings are automatically lost.
  • Play the player, not the game: If you have a good understanding of how your opponent acts, you may spot opportunities to beat them post-flop, so make sure you stick with the game and don’t call it quits too early even if you don’t have an incredibly high-value hand. However, don’t get too cocky. Even if you correctly identify a weak player, luck can still shift the game in their favor.
  • Keep an eye on the size of your stack: Players often forget this, but how you defend your big blinds, or play the majority of your hands, is influenced by the size of your stack. If you are short-stacked, players who are deep-stacked are more likely to face you down as they can afford to lose more hands. On the other hand, if you are deep-stacked, players who are short-stacked are more likely to fold unless they have the nuts. Finally, if you are against a player with roughly the same stack size as you and it goes all the way, the game could end very quickly for either of you. 

Take advantage of these tips when you play real poker online

Whether you’re a casual poker player interested in a few fun games of poker, or a competitive individual looking for online poker tournaments so you can test your poker tournament tips, there’s no doubt that you can find what you’re looking for at Borgata Online. At Borgata Online we offer an incredible range of poker tables to suit the needs of all players, with different poker variants, such as Texas Hold’em and Pot-Limit Omaha, as well as different types of poker games such as cash games and online tournaments where you can practice your online poker tournament strategy. 

To join in all the poker action, register at Borgata Online.