Of all the No Limit Hold’em positions, the small blind might be the toughest to figure out. You have to put up half a big blind before you have even seen your cards, and postflop you have a disadvantage in terms of position. However, there are some steps you can take to boost your win rate from this position.
Take advantage of folding action
If the table folds all the way around to you, there is only one competitor left that you have to beat to rake in the dead money from the pot. Players with less experience are more likely to fold unnecessarily when they’re at the big blind when the small blind tries to steal, so try an open raise to see if you can’t make that pay off.
Open raise about half the time of hands when you are on the small blind – and when the action folds around to you. There is a blind and a half of dead money, and you only have to beat one player, so a wide range makes sense.
This is not the same thing as a big blind
You’ve already invested a half a big blind, so your pot odds are somewhat better in the small version, but you still shouldn’t call raises when you have a marginal hand. There are a few reasons for this. If you’re in a four-way pot (or other multi-way pot), you’re not likely to make it to the river, and if you flat from the small blind instead of 3-betting, your range has a cap and might not be large enough for the strongest hands – leaving you vulnerable to a big blind squeeze.
Use your whole continue range to 3-bet
When you 3-bet from this position, you can win the pot without even getting to the flop, and you cut down the average number of players still in the hand – and you take the option away from the big blind. You’ll want to keep a tight range here, because you only make the situation easier if you have a strong hand. You’ll want to mix in occasional bluffs, but make sure they are strong.
When you’re playing in a tournament or cash game, your calling range from this position will change a bit. Let’s say you’re in a cash game with nine hands. The usual open raise runs about three blinds. You’ll need about 36 percent equity, at minimum, to make a profitable call. If you are in a tournament, the usual open raise will be 2 ½ blinds or less. Your minimum equity for a profitable call from this position is about 28.5 percent.
Watch the big blind player
When the big blind keeps 3-betting and 4-betting to defend, that means that your ranges need to tighten up so that you’re not dropping chips all over the place. However, if the big blind is a tight player, then it’s time for you to open up your ranges and collect pots.
Try it out for yourself at National League of Poker