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Unlike many aspects of poker tournament strategy, there are fewer agreed upon “standard” plays when it comes to a battle of the blinds, especially when the stacks are deep. When stacks are short — around 20 blinds or less — most blind versus blind strategy involves going all-in pre-flop, but there’s more nuance once the stacks are above that threshold.

Clearly, the small blind is the harder of the two positions to play, as you’re out of position throughout the hand and already have half of a bet in the middle. If you’re sat with a stack of around 20 blinds or less, you’ll often be open shoving to in an attempt to win the blinds and antes. Exactly which hands and how many blinds to shove has been summarised in the many “push/fold charts” available online and in various poker literature.

Once the stacks are deeper, you need to make a decision between folding, completing, and raising. What approach you should take is very player dependent; if the player in the big blind is weak-tight, you can raise almost every hand profitably. But if the big blind is one of the few capable professionals on the table, you might even adopt a strategy of limping 100% of your playable hands in the small blind, thereby controlling the size of the pot and limiting your risk against an aggressive player. The simplest strategy is to fold your weakest hands, raise your strongest ones, and complete the ones that flop well, but if the big blind is paying attention, he’ll pick up on this and use this information to exploit you.

Check out this video on how to play in a battle of the blinds

Playing a a battle of the blinds from the big is a much more comfortable scenario. Again, if the small blind is short stacked, the decision comes down to maths, and which hands you should call a potential all-in bet with will be found on an aforementioned ‘push/fold-chart’. Your strategy beyond that will be very player dependent; if the small blind is loose and sticky (doesn’t like to fold after the flop), you should raise your best hands and check your weakest ones, but if your opponent is weak-tight, you should raise your garbage hands and usually follow through with a continuation bet. Against that type of opponent, you may even want to check in the big blind if you have a strong hand and allow your tight opponent a chance to connect before you try to get value.

In the event the small blind opens the pot with a raise, you can call from the big blind with a much wider range of hands then in most scenarios. Not only will you have position, but the small-blind is likely raising far weaker hands then you’d encounter from most positions, making it profitable to defend the blinds with more hands yourself. And besides, nobody wants to fold their big blind anyway.

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