How and when to defend your blinds

Playing from the blinds is one of the key areas that all weak players lose much more money than they should from.

No poker player alive can play profitably long term out of the blinds. The forced nature of the bet, the fact that you are out of position for the whole hand, and the simple point that the average hand dealt to you is pretty poor, combine to make a lethal cocktail in terms of profitability. However, money we don't lose is just as important as the money we win in poker, and minimising your losses from the blinds is crucial to long term profit in poker.

The first and most important point about blind defence is to make yourself observably and actively a highly dangerous opponent to attack. Good players tend to generally either re-raise or fold from the blinds, making you pay hard for attacking their blind with weak hands, or simple backing away as cheaply as possible. The betting initiative is crucial in all forms of poker, but especially so when playing out of position - you simply have to try and mitigate the huge downsides of being in the blinds with something, and aggression and the lead is by far the best technique.

The second key point - and one which ties in heavily to the first - about defending blinds is to not get too hung up on playing weak hands from them. Although you appear to be getting a good price on your hand when people raise, you have to remember that the price on offer is not actually the real price you are likely to pay.

Say you call a raise in limit Hold'em with pocket threes from the big blind and miss the flop. Although you were getting a great immediate price when raised, you actually face a much worse price to get to showdown, as you likely have to call bets on multiple streets out of position with a very weak hand to ever get to to showdown.

This illusion of price can fool weak players into habitually defending their blind with weak hands on the basis of: 'Oh well I was getting 2 to 1 and my hand is certainly not a 2 to 1 dog versus my opponent's range' as if they were comparing all in EV. Only you are not getting 2 to 1 like you do with all in EV where there is no future betting - as basically no player is ever going to let you get to showdown for free all the times you miss the flop. Do not fall victim to this price fallacy - it will cost you a fortune in the long run.

Playing from the blinds is one of the key areas that all weak players lose much more money than they should from. It's mix of a juicy looking price, acting in position pre flop, and psychological pull of appearing to already be involved in the hand all mix together to give a mirage of reasons to play. However, it is simply a mirage, and thinking about the cold reality of how bad playing from the blinds is in the long run is crucial to minimising the endless losses that all players experience from the blinds over time.

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