PRACTICAL BLIND PLAY Ed Mi l ler
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WHAT’S THE GOAL OF BLIND PLAY?
Always focus first on the big picture
Play from outside the bl inds is focused on identifying
exploitable oppor tunities
Play from the bl inds has a dual focus
Identifying exploitable opportunities
Many ye ar s ag o I u s e d to t h i nk of “ b l ind d e fens e” as a f al l ac y.
The blind money is a sunk cost.
Is the hand +EV?
Don’t “defend” a -EV hand.
Old logic not wrong, but I embrace the idea of defense more
IS DEFENDING REAL?
The most ef fective way to defend a bl ind is to 3-bet it.
Strong, mathematically -rooted preflop strategies 3-bet a lot
against potential steal -raises.
So, yes, defend your bl inds. By 3-betting a lot. (And cal l ing
DEFENSE ENCOURAGES PROPER
WHAT EXPLOITABLE OPPORTUNITIES
People of ten try to steal with wide ranges.
Pe o p le s u c k a t p l ay ing wi d e ra ng es wh e re t h ey d o n’ t h i t t h e
flop hard very of ten.
Al lows you to overdefend your bl inds (both 3-bets and cal ls)
beyond the mathematical ranges.
ED, YOU’RE TELLING ME TO PLAY OOP?
Yes I am.
But this is a special situation.
In most cases where people are playing OOP, they are up
against relatively strong ranges.
They limp and get raised behind.
They raise and get 3-bet behind.
With many $2-$5 opponents, these actions rep strong preflop ranges.
Steal raise ranges are completely dif ferent.
As always, the postflop concepts are more impor tant than
specific preflop range construction.
Errors we are trying to exploit
Too narrow two- and three-barreling ranges (I.e., too much “giving
Too much fit-or-fold against a 3-bet
Not enough 4-betting preflop
HOW TO EXPLOIT THESE ERRORS?
Not enough 4-betting preflop
Too much fit -or-fold against a 3-bet
C-bet and bet turn a lot
Check, defend against a bet (call or check-raise), and bet at least
HOW TO EXPLOIT THESE ERRORS? (CONT.)
Too narrow two- and three-barreling ranges
Call more preflop.
Don’t fold to the first bet often.
Give few free showdowns
THREE SIMPLE RULES
Don’ t b e af rai d to fol d you r b l i nd s i n c as h g ame s. Wi t hout
antes, and with big (e.g. , 4x or more) preflop ra i s es , i t ’ s ra re ly
a big mistake to fold. (Tournaments are very dif ferent. )
Against non-steal raises, adopt a defensive outlook.
Against steal raises, when you decide to play, be an enormous
pain in the ass.
BEING A PAIN IN THE ASS – PART 1
Make them show you twice.
One l imp. Aggro button makes it $25. You cal l with QsJs.
Possible flops: Kd7d7s. 7d3s2c. Td8s2c. AhTh4c. Ts7h2d.
On al l these flops, you are going to be a pain in the ass.
Check-call flop. Check turn and respond. To a big bet size,
consider folding. To a check, auto-bet river. To a smal l bet,
consider a check-raise.
I f t h ey b et t u rn b i g , t h ey h ave “ s h own yo u twi c e . ” Ot h e r wis e,
i t ’ s a g re e n l i g ht to s te a l.
BEING A PAIN IN THE ASS – PART 1 (CONT.)
Why does this work?
Stealing ranges are very wide, which means on any flop type, the
range will be weak.
Most people at the level play too passively and fold too much in these
steal vs. blind situations.
Therefore, most opponents will assume that your range is strong
when you play back.
This assumption, plus their wide range to begin with, will give them
folding ranges that are large enough to attack in most board runouts.
WHEN NOT TO BE A PAIN IN THE ASS
Some flops wi l l be par ticularly terrible for your hand. Th9h on
AsKs3c. QsJs on 8h7h5h.
Feel free to give up on these flops. Assuming your cal ling
range preflop i s g o o d , yo u wo n’ t g et to o ma ny o f t h e s e
You want at least some equity if cal led. An overcard, a
gutshot , b a c kdo o r d raws… s omet h ing. Hav i ng 10% ex t ra
equity is huge.
BEING A PAIN IN THE ASS – PART 2
You cal l preflop and check the flop. Against one or two
opponents, it gets checked back/around.
Bet turn, bet river.
I bel ieve—at least in Vegas $2-$5 games—this is automatic
profit on most boards. I f someone steal -raises and then
checks back the flop, they simply wi l l not cal l down turn and
river bets of ten enough to prevent an auto-profit.
BEING A PAIN IN THE ASS – PART 3
You can check-raise the flop.
I like to have a hand that can turn into a big hand >10% of the time
to do this. A gutshot. Bottom pair and a backdoor flush draw.
Generally not naked overcards or an unimproved pocket pair.
You can donk bet.
WARNING: Donk betting is tricky. It’s hard to get your ranges right,
and many people attack donk bets.
BEING A PAIN IN THE ASS – PART 4
I tend to do this with premiums, weak suited hands, a few
of fsuit hands with card removal value, and some smal l pocket
Examples of hands I of ten 3-bet against steal raises: 99, AQo,
K5s, Q8s, 54s, A9o, 44
BEING A PAIN IN THE ASS – PART 4 (CONT.)
Af ter your 3-bet gets cal led, you can either bet or check flop. I
do both a lot.
Against fit -or-fold types, I just bet flop and usually turn.
Lots of people wi l l cal l the 3-bet wide, but then fit -or-fold
real ly tight by the turn bet.
I f they are steal ing wide, cal ling the 3-bet wide, and fit -or-folding
by the turn, you can just 3- b et , b et , b et a nd i t ’ s
BEING A PAIN IN THE ASS – PART 5
Against players who fold more to the 3-bet, or who are
smar ter postflop, you need to check the flop a lot.
Check good hands (overpairs), bad hands (that you plan to
fold) , and some of the hand types you check-called in the first
Same options checking af ter a 3-bet you have as checking
af ter cal l ing preflop.
Al l $2-$5 with $1,000 stacks. Button opens for $20.
Smal l bl ind with 8h6h. 3-bet to $70. Button cal ls.
Flop Qh7d3s. Against fit -or-fold button, bet $80 on flop. I f
c a l l ed, yo u ’ re p ro b a bl y u p a g a i nst a qu e e n o r u nimp roved
Bet $200 on turn into any overcard, hear t, or T-thru-8s and 6-
thru-4s. Possibly bet other cards except for a queen.
8h6h on Qh7d3s board.
Check flop. I f checked back, bet turn ($80) and river ($200).
I f button bets, cal l . Check turn. I f button bets big, fold (except
if you have legit draw). I f button checks back, bet river BIG
($300+). I f button bets smal l, consider check-raising
overcards, hear ts, T-thru-8s and 6-thru-4s.
I f button is very tight against 3-bets ( i .e. , you are surprised he
cal led), then consider check-folding flop.
KdJs in the big bl ind. Button opens $20. You cal l .
Flop AhTh5d. Check flop.
I f checked through, bet turn ($30) and river ($100, possibly
$150+ if you can get him of f an ace with that bet) .
I f button bets, cal l . Check turn. I f checked through, bet river.
Fold to a big bet, consider check-raising a smal l bet.
Might get you into trouble if your opponent assumes you have a flush
draw b/c few value hands that didn’t 3 -bet preflop want to check-raise.
Works fine against fit-or-fold types.
Danger. This is exactly the strength of hand many people will expect
to see if you donk bet.
Ks5s in the big bl ind. Button opens $20. You 3-bet to $65. He
Against fit -or-fold type, you can consider bet flop, bet turn.
( Bu t d o n’ t eve r b et fl o p a nd c h e c k t u rn. T h a t’ s b u rni ng mo ney
on this flop. )
Against everyone else, check-fold.
Don’ t b ank on imp li ed od d s ag ains t a s te al rai s e. I t ’ s h ard to
get steal raisers to real ly pay you of f because they so of ten
brick of f.
Fold most of your bl inds. In cash games with no antes and big
preflop raises, playing the bl inds is not very attractive. Fold
most of the of fsuit hands and the total junk suited stuf f l ike
Be very careful against non-steal raises. Now you are out of
position against a legit range. Bad spot.
STICK TO THE PLAN
Like with everything in poker, find the weakness, devise a
plan, and stick to it.
I tend to try to exploit players steal ing with weak ranges who
d o n’ t k now h ow to p l ay t h o s e ra ng e s postflop.
This leads me to try to get folds —par ticularly on the turn. My
plan from the bl inds is to gather information and then steal as
much as possible.
SCRATCHING THE SURFACE
T h i s v i d eo I h op e i s food for t h ou gh t, b u t obv i ou s ly i t ’ s j u s t the
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