Defending your big blind isn’t easy. You’ll be out of position for the entire hand unless the raise comes from the player in the small blind. It’s important to respect that positional disadvantage and not try to outplay your opponent with fancy moves.
Many players in the big blind get in trouble by calling pre-flop raises; they try to do too much. They don’t want to get bullied so they attempt a tricky check-raise bluff or overplay their hands in an ill-advised effort to push back.
Folks, that’s like trying to swim upstream.
What makes you think you can overcome positional disadvantage by plowing your way through? Trust me, no matter how much better than your opponent you think you are, if he has position, it will be almost impossible for you to outplay him.
But there is a method to neutralize your opponent’s advantage in this situation — playing possum.
You see, it is possible to exploit an opponent who has position by letting him think he can run you over. But don’t do this with aggressive betting. Rather, if you think you’re in the lead, just check and let your opponent do all the betting
In more marginal situations, though, focus on minimizing the damage when you might be beat and maximizing your profit when you’re ahead by letting a bluffing player continues to bet.
Like professional player Layne Flack once said, “Why do the pushing when the donkey will do the pulling?” In other words, when you’re out of position, respect that disadvantage. Your options are limited so think about conserving your chips, not betting aggressively.
Let’s look at an example.
In a No Limit hold’em game with blinds at 50-100, a player in late position raises to 300. You look down at K-d-10-d and call the bet with just the two of you in the pot.
The flop comes K-s-8-s-2-c. The standard play is to check and see what your opponent does. So you check and he bets out 500.
You only have two legitimate options: check-raise the flop or call. Folding is out of the question because your opponent would probably bet that kind of flop whether or not he had a good hand.
The best option is to call his raise. Here’s why.
By just calling, your opponent won’t be able to read your hand. Perhaps you’re on a flush draw or even have a hand like pocket nines. Your opponent may decide to continue betting as a bluff.
Also, you’ll lose less when you’re beat. If he does have a hand like A-K, he’ll want to get maximum value and will likely bet an amount that is easy for you to call. If you had check-raised the flop instead, you would have made the pot even bigger meaning your opponent’s future bets would have been bigger still.
Finally, if you check-raise, you’ll have to guess about what your opponent has in the event he calls, or even worse, reraises. Had you decided to check-call the flop and turn, you’d only have to make a guess on the river. By that time, though, you’d have collected a lot more information with which you can make an informed decision.
There’s no doubt that it’s important to defend the big blind. If you don’t, your opponents will pick on you relentlessly. But having said that, when you do decide to defend your big blind, don’t get the idea that you’ll be able to consistently outplay your opponent.
Instead, play possum and challenge your opponent to outplay you.
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