How to Steal Blinds in a Poker Tournament

The value of blinds and antes in Multi-Table tournament rise throughout the game – making ‘stealing’ them an attractive prospect for those wishing to grow their stacks. Yet many players make basic errors when attempting to steal blinds which actually end up costing them money. This article looks at the subject of blind stealing in multi-table tournaments and suggests ways in which this can improve your results.

We start by looking at why you need to steal blinds. Next we look at the ways in which you might go about doing this. Finally we cover some of the important factors involved in blind stealing and discuss common errors in doing this.

Why Steal Blinds?

As you enter the middle and late stages of a poker tournament the blinds will increase rapidly in proportion to your stack. Players will be trying to maintain the size of their stacks to ensure that they have the maximum flexibility in their poker play. This will involve raising to ‘steal’ the blinds on many occasions. This is a cheap (in terms of chips committed) and effective way of adding to your stack with minimal risk. The players in the blinds are often reluctant to call bets - as they are out of position for the rest of the hand.

What is Stealing Blinds?

Stealing blinds involves making a raise from one of the later positions at the table in the hope of seeing the remaining players fold. Raising from early or mid position increases the likelihood of someone having a hand they will call you with since there are more players to act. The math of blind stealing is simple, you raise a marginal hand since statistically speaking the chances of 1, 2 or even 3 players having a hand they are willing to call with are small.

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Bet Size

Apart from position an important factor in blind stealing is the size of your raise. A raise of 2.5 to 3 times the big blind from late position needs to succeed sometimes to show a profit (especially when there are antes). If you raise more then you need to succeed more often to profit from your raise - assuming you plan on folding to a big re-raise.

Mixing Up Your Play

If you steal the blinds from the same position every time you are folded to observant players will soon catch on to what you are doing. In this case they may start re-raising with marginal hands to steal your chips. Avoid this error by both varying your bet size and position from which you steal.

Stack Sizes

Your opponents stack size makes a big difference to the chances of a successful blind steal. A common error is to raise the blind of a short-stacked player. This may mean that you are forced to call their re-raise (due to irresistible pot-odds). The rest of the table will then see your marginal hand – making your steals less effective in the future.

Big stacks are also more likely to call on the basis that losing a pot will not damage their chances too much. Medium stacks are the ideal targets for blind steals, they have enough chips that they can comfortably fold but not enough to fight for a small pot before the flop.

Opponent Tendencies

Finally, blind steal success often depends on your opponent’s tendencies. A tight player will give up blinds far more easily than a loose and aggressive one. Beware of stealing too often from an inexperienced opponent, they may decide to ‘take a stand’ with some truly marginal holdings.

To summarize, blind stealing is a cheap and effective way of building your chips during the mid to late stages of a multi-table tournament. A reasonable raise from late position will often take the pot pre-flop. Beware of always stealing from the same position (from the same opponents), stealing from the wrong stacks and stealing from aggressive or inexperienced players.

Stealing blinds is very important once you reach the final table.  Read this article to learn how to play at the final table.

Another important aspect of stealing blinds is that you always have to consider your pot odds.  Click here to learn what are pot odds.

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