Small blind v big blind

Small blind v big blind

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Dear Dr. Tom,

I always seem to get myself in a fix during tournaments in small blind/big blind confrontations. I never believe my opponent has anything, even when he’s re-raising me.

I have never found any decent small blind / big blind tournament strategy in any of the books. What kind of hand ranges and situational aspects should I be thinking about? Advice please!!!


Dear SB,

Poker gets a bit freeform when the blinds go to battle. Most players have some sorts of standards raising UTG because, with the whole field behind them, the cold, hard reality is that a premium hand is quite likely to be sitting out there. But with one player behind him, the SB knows that opponent holding a pair or an ace is unlikely, so he raises, and the BB is having none of it because he knows the SB is at it and it all descends into a case of I know that he knows that I know that he knows…

If you’re in the SB my tip against an aggressive BB is simply don’t raise without a hand – it sucks, of course, to be so predictable, but you just can’t make money in this situation. Having folded five hands in a row, you’re at liberty to complete with something a tad speculative since BB may fear a check-raise – but that’s the limit of the moves available to you.

Against less demanding opposition you can open a bit more often, but the value of a pre-flop raise is heavily dependent on the likelihood of a continuation bet getting through. If opponent doesn’t respect these then you’d better fall back on waiting for a hand and suckering him when you connect with the flop.

The SB is a loser for everyone. If you want to get jiggy there, it’s only with a view to trying to claw some of the money back, but don’t be greedy.

In the BB things are an awful lot simpler – just assess opponent’s raising and completing ranges pre-flop, and their continuation bet frequency post flop, and go from there. You won’t get it right all the time, of course, but A-B-C poker should be enough.

Dr Tom

Tags: Tom Sambrook, Strategy,