The Doc answers …
Blind Stealing and Defending in Poker
Blind Stealing and Defending Against It
The two most popular types of poker right now are no-limit hold’em and pot-limit Omaha. While these games are very different overall, they have some particular similarities. One of those similarities are how blind stealing and blind defense work. If it folds to someone in late position in today’s games, you can expect that they will be attacking your blinds regularly. However, doing it a lot doesn’t necessarily mean they are doing it right, and you can really get an advantage against people who steal blinds indiscriminately. Along similar lines, you can also get an easy advantage by stealing with the correct amount of moderation against players who don’t know how to defend properly.
Suppose it folds to you on the button with deep stacks in either of the games mentioned above. Generally speaking, you should almost always be raising to about three times the big blind, and you should almost always be raising between 25 and 45 percent of starting hands. There are no real circumstances except extremely rare exceptions where you should be raising with fewer than 25 percent of hands or more than 45 percent of hands. In fact, your only decision is whether you should raise about 25 percent, about 35 percent or about 45 percent, and you make this decision based on how likely the blinds are to try to play back at you.
To understand this better, consider it from the perspective of the big blind. The button raises to three times the big blind, the small blind folds, and you’re left in the big blind deciding what to do. If you 3-bet them as a bluff, then you only need them to fold about two-thirds of the time for your bet to be profitable. This means that they have to be playing at least one-third of their raising range without folding. If they raise 45 percent of starting hands, that means that they have to be continuing with at least 15 percent of all hands.
This is where you have them trapped. If they play with fewer hands than that, then you will destroy them with your bluffs. On the other hand, if they play with at least 15 percent of all hands, then your value bets are going to get paid off very frequently. You have them in a situation that they can’t win because you’re being aggressive and they are playing too many hands.
If you are the player on the button stealing blinds, you can see that you don’t want to have 45 percent of starting hands when the blinds are playing back at you. That’s why you drop down to 25 or 35 percent against players who do because that means that they are the ones making the mistake, and they become your personal ATM in the process.