In this article I will discuss strategies about playing in the small blind in texas hold’em. When you are playing with a small blind/big blind structure and your position is the small blind you generally will need a solid starting hand to complete the blind. Even though you are getting better pot odds since you involuntarily have to invest 1/2 a big blind, you should always be conservative minded in this spot because your relative position is so bad.
Let’s suppose you were just dealt AQ in the small blind, well what happens now? Hopefully you’ve been doing exactly this before checking your cards:
1. watching the action as it gets to you
2. sizing up the potential strengths your relevant opponents have this hand (what their cards might be, their position, their general skill as it applies to this hand etc).
So as the action gets close to you, you look down and see a hand that is worth playing, good, now what? You are probably wondering whether you should raise and why, right?
Well I’ll tell you this, if only 2-3 loose players limped, you should usually raise the AQ, but your intentions mostly have to do with knocking out the big blind here. If I knew the BB wouldn’t fold, I would be less likely to raise with this hand.
If the AQ was suited or I had an even stronger hand I would really have something and I wouldn’t as much mind building a pot, I would raise regardless of the BB’s style of play, but still I would always rather they fold in this spot, even if I had AA.
Often, in a bigger game, when only one player limps under the gun this becomes a raise or fold situation because of aforementioned reasons pertaining to the BB’s presence in the hand, they have position on you and they could have an array of weird hands and still be in there.
You are raising solely to get them out a majority of the time. Now, do you see why so many nits never raise many hands in the SB? They know that no one will fold in limped pots and this is the main purpose of preflop raising.
Finally, you should still raise to build a pot from the SB and the BB with a premium starting hand, just be conscious of the fact that with a lesser ‘raiseworthy’ hand you may be taking the worst of it if the BB calls with a bad hand and your other opponents turn out to have stronger hands then you gave them credit for.
Giving thought to all the hands you play will make you a better player. After a session of poker at your local poker room or online at Carbon poker (visit), be sure to think about your play. Replay some of the important hands and think about if you did the right thing every time. Be honest with yourself, it is ok to make mistakes. Finding then fixing mistakes is how you will get better at poker.
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