Defending blinds in tournaments seems to be a much talked about issue for players in MTTs. Some people take the macho approach and fire back at anyone that attempts to steal their blinds, whilst others just sit back and let their opponents pick them off at will. Both of these strategies have their pros and cons, but is there a happy medium that we should be aiming for? Should be looking to take the pros from the separate strategies and combining them to make one super blind-defending strategy? Firstly we should look at the pros and cons of each before deciding which route we should take when it comes to defending our blinds.
Defending your blinds at every opportunity can land you in quite a lot of trouble. Being in the blinds means that you are going to be one of the first, if not the first to act on every betting round apart from before the flop. So if we decide to defend our blinds by re-raising and calling the bets from our opponents, we our putting ourselves at a big disadvantage every time we see a flop because our opponents will always have position on us. This combined with the fact that the stakes have been raised because it is a raised pot, puts us in a very sticky situation if we do not hit the flop hard. However, if our opponents know that we have a tendency to defend our blinds on a regular basis, then we will find that our opponents will be less inclined to make bets and raises from late position to try and steal them. Therefore we can infer that our opponents will have a strong hand every time a bet is made from late position.
On the other hand, if we never make an active attempt to protect our blinds from steals, we open up the opportunity for our opponents to steal our blinds at will. This is not too bad of a strategy in comparison to trying to defend our blinds at every opportunity, because we are preventing ourselves from getting into any difficult raised pots out of position. By folding in the blinds every time with a weak hand to a raise, we will probably be saving ourselves more money in the long run than if we tried to fight back. However, problems arise when we enter the late stages of the tournament when the blinds become bigger. If our opponents are still under the notion that we give up our blinds easily, there is a good chance that we will be leaking a large amount of chips to players that know we are going to fold unless we have a big hand, which is not going to be a regular occurrence every time we are in the blinds at the later stages.
As you can see, both of the extremes when it comes to defending blinds have their good and bad points. However, the pros for not defending blinds will more often than not outweigh the pros for actively trying to defend your blinds from opponents that you think are trying to steal them. Poker is all about information, and the more information that you have on your opponents the better, because you can make more educated decisions. By trying to defend your blinds you will be putting yourself in a very sticky situation with very little information on your opponent because you are going to be first to act. Therefore it makes sense to try and avoid turnkey casino. The main problem that can arise is that our opponents become aware that we give up our blinds easily, which can be costly for us in the later stages of an MTT. Therefore we have to use methods to try and deter our opponents from stealing blinds when they start to become more important to us.
The best way to do this is by making a stand, and making a big re-raise with a strong hand from time to time. By calling with a strong hand we are showing our opponent that we are weak and that we are afraid to play back at them, when the chances are we have a better hand than they do. So if we are in the blinds with a hand like AK, AQ, AJ and KQ, or even AT and there is a raise from late position, make a stand and raise right back at them. Make the raise about 3 times the size of their raise to really make them consider whether or not they want to continue with the hand, and give them the opportunity to fold. So if the blinds are 50/100 and our opponent raises it to 300, make it 900 to go so that they will have a hard time calling if they don’t have a strong hand. This will make our opponent aware that we are not going to stand for blind stealing all the time, and should deter our opponents from doing so in the later stages of the tournament.
When it comes to defending blinds in a tournament, it is not about being macho and fighting back against anyone that attacks your blinds, it is about picking our spots carefully and getting into profitable situations. You should realise that when you have put your blinds into the middle, they not longer belong to you, as they now belong to the pot instead. By thinking of the blinds in the this way you can help yourself to get out of the habit of trying to protect what is yours, because the real fact is that the blinds no longer belong to you. Not defending blinds may appear to be the scared way to play poker, but it has more advantages than it does to try and be big and clever when it comes to defending blinds. So next time you sit down at the table, make sure to leave your ego at the door and play some tactical and profitable poker when in the blinds.