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  • When to Protect Your Blinds in Tournament Poker

The decision of when to protect your blinds and when not to protect your blinds is one that goes beyond simply looking at your cards. You have to factor in quite a few things, ranging from your chip stack, your opponents’ playing style, where the player raised as far as their seating position, and a few other things. Today, we are going to take a look at a few tips and strategies to help make the choices of when to protect your blinds a bit easier. The first thing to remember is to always watch your chip stack, and count your big blinds to help make your decisions quite a bit easier. Also, always remember that you will be playing out of position for the rest of the hand, unless you are the big blind against only the small blind. Playing out of position is definitely something to avoid, simply because it’ll make your life harder against strong opponents.

Counting Blinds

How many blinds will you be left with if you call your hand? While it definitely is not the only thing to factor into your decision, if you are debating it at all, you should check your chips before making any final decision. In live tournament play, many people say that you should keep yourself above 18-20 big blinds, and if you have less than that then you shouldn’t really be calling from the blinds simply to protect.

Number of Raisers

If the pot is big because there were two or three callers after the original raiser, you’ll have very good pot odds, and it should factor into your decision to call. If you are fairly deep stacked, even if you have a hand like 6/7 suited, calling a raise that was 2.5 or 3 times the big blind that has quite a few callers is worth your time. For example, if the blinds are at 100/200 and someone makes it 600 total, with three callers after; that means that the total pot is up to 2700 before you make a decision. Calling the extra 400 chips in a pot of 2700 already is a snap decision.

Playing Out of Position

When you are up against a strong opponent with a deep stack and your chip stack is middle of the road, the factor of where you are sitting should come into play at least a bit as well. It is very tough to play mediocre hands out of position against other strong players. You’ll find that more often than not people will lay down some average to above average hands, and simply give up their big blinds because playing out of position can cause fits for people.

Playing Big Blind vs. Small Blind

While this doesn’t happen a lot, playing in this position can be very tough if everyone folds to you pre-flop. This can be a good spot to attempt a three-bet if your opponent raises you, or even to try a four bet if you have a deep enough chip stack to do so. Many times players in the small blind will attempt to steal the big blind with an incredibly wide range of hands, and if you three-bet at them it will create a tough situation for your opponent.

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