Poker Tournament Strategy: Advanced Blind Stealing

Tournament Poker: Advanced Blind Stealing
By Loki Luchs of

When a player is in a tournament, there are several winning strategies that they might choose to use. Some players might try to accumulate a large number of chips by playing very loose early on. Others will attempt to play a very tight conservative game while the field is filled with undisciplined weak players. Most great players have the ability to change their gears so that they dont become predictable to their opponents.

One of the things that occurs frequently in tournaments is that the early stages are a field mowing of bad players. The fish are rounded up and slaughtered, leaving a plethora of solid players for the middle stages. The vast number of these that have maintained a disciplined game through the early stages are playing tight games and using selective aggression. This is the very reason that they havent been knocked out! However, as the blinds and antes get larger, the value of your chip stack diminishes and it is imperative that TAG players steal blinds to stay alive. When youre at a table filled with smart, tight players there is an unusual opportunity for a play: Blind stealing under the gun.

When you feel that youre getting too much respect on your raises and your opponents are all tight, stealing a set of blinds by raising in early position is a tremendous way to increase your stack. Players that know youve been playing tight will recognize that you are only raising UTG with very few hands. (This is, in fact, the reason youre raising in the first place.) They are likely to fold any small pair.


A few indicators that this play might be an option to you are:

1. As you look behind, several players are holding their cards getting ready to muck them. By losing several players early, youre much less likely to find that big-hand-busters, like suited connectors, are going to find that they have pot odds to call.

2. Be sure that youre at least at an ante stage of the tournament, so that there is a large enough dead pot to justify the play.

3. Have at least 20 BB behind so that you arent pot committed if youre raised from behind.

4. Bet about 4BB. This will kill most action behind you from anyone who is looking to limp in behind.

5. Having a middle suited-connector or a small-pair is helpful as a way of actually connecting with a flop if you have one. I feel that a continuation bet is appropriate if you havent been raised on almost any board.

This move is extremely lucrative in tournaments because it keeps you from getting short-stacked during the middle stages. The longer you can stave off your low chip count, the deeper you will make it into tournaments. At the middle stages, most of the middle stacks are going to be weary of getting short stacked before they have to, so they will not call your blind steal without a real hand. You, in turn, should be careful about using this play too often. If its effective, I feel every third or fourth round you might be able to steal a round of blinds, but be sure that youre keeping a tight table image! Without your opponents fear of UTG raises, youre going to end up losing more than you make.