It’s a common scenario in low limit poker: you’re in one of the blinds, and everyone folds until a player in late position raises. Sometimes the raiser has a good hand, but often they’re just trying to steal the blinds by having the small and big blind fold and win the pot right there. It can happen a lot, especially at a tight table, and if you fold to blind steals with all but your monster hands you’ll be losing more money than you should.
When you defend your blinds against this type of steal, you’re giving your opponents a free opportunity to take down the pot with a raise. Your key to taking down the blinds over the long term is to always have a smaller stack in relation to the blinds than your opponents. If you have $100 at a $5/10 table, you should have a minimum of $300. Having a larger stack makes you more dangerous, because you’ll be able to take the blinds more often.
The way to avoid becoming a gambler (or a calling station) is to determine what type of player you’re up against. This is usually a easy task, since most people don’t like counting cards, calculating pot odds, or taking time to look at a situation. Instead they’d rather start up a fast game and have something to do while they wait for the big hand. Here’s an example of how to play a situation. You’re on the button at a .50/1 table. Everyone folds to you in the small blind, and you have As-Jd. What should you do?
Unless you have a monster, I wouldn’t hold out for a small pair. You have two possibilities: fold, or call a bet equal to your small blind. If you call, the small blind only has to call $15, giving you $90. If you fold, the small blind will only have to pay $30, giving you a little over $100.50 to play. $150 in three hands! It’s a good spot to call the raise, but if you try to trap your opponent into thinking you have a monster, you’re playing straight poker. He’s taking a chance at a better hand, and you’re making a move to steal the blinds.
In no-limit poker, a player can go all-in whenever he wants. Obviously, this adds an extra dimension to the game, since normally the game would end after one showdown or one all-in.
It doesn’t matter if you have 7-2 offsuit, if you’re heads up with a player known for his extreme looseness, or even against an opponent standard enough to call a raise. In no-limit poker, a player can play recklessly and still finish in a fundraiser.
When you’re in the blind, you have to be ready to call the big all-in raise with hands like pocket sevens and sometimes a hand like queens. Even with seven-two offsuit, you’re rarely drawing dead. Against a loose, aggressive player, you might even have a chance of making your hand. Even if you’re against a tight passive player, you’ll still be making money if you’re in the blind and the raiser has pocket aces or kings.
The main problem with playing in low limit games is that you can lose a lot of chips without ever being out of position. When you’re in the blind, you should be looking to hit a monster and take the blinds. You won’t hit anything often, but with Q-7 or 8-8 you should be able to take down a blind regardless of how many callers there are.