How (and When) to Steal the Blinds in Poker Tournaments
You're not always going to pick up solid starting hands and sometimes this will continue for an extended period of time.
To stay ahead of the constantly raising blinds, you have to steal a few. This gives you time to pick up a big hand or find the right spot to pick up some easy chips.
Below are a few tips to effective blind stealing.
1. Find the Best Target at the Table
First, you need to evaluate your opponents to determine who might be your prime target to steal from.
Do you have a player to your left that's playing tight and has an easily defined range?
If so, this is a prime target to steal from. They are players that refuse to gamble and when they do show a hand, it is almost always the nuts or close.
By the way, they don't have to be to your direct left. They just have to be a player at the table where you can steal from without incurring much risk.
2. Late-Position Stealing
The easiest position to steal the blinds in most games will be in late position. When you raise from late position, you're usually only going to be facing the blinds and they will have difficulty calling you without a reasonable hand.
If they call, they will be out of position for the rest of the hand and you can either put them to the test or get out of the way easily when they have a solid hand. Stealing from late position will be a high percentage play in most games.
3. Stealing Out of Position
You need to be careful stealing out of position. At a tight table, you'll be able to get away with more out-of-position steals.
However, if you steal out of position, you need to also steal in position in order to keep them guessing. Otherwise you become too predictable.
Also, don't steal too often out of position because eventually you will get played back at except for the tightest of tables.
4. Bubble Stealing
The money bubble in a tournament is a prime spot to steal blinds and you will often be able to do so with little risk. Players are trying to hold on to secure a payday and will not call you unless they absolutely have to or have a monster hand.
Note that you want to stay away from your larger stacks at the table or anyone that can reasonably hurt you if they play back. Pick on the stacks smaller than you or the uber rocks at the table.
Due to the nature of the bubble, you may be able to steal multiple times per round without contest. When done correctly, bubble stealing can add a large portion to your stack.
Blind Stealing Will Keep You in the Game
When you are not finding many playable hands, blind stealing will at least let you tread water until you can.
You have probably noticed that position and your reads on your opponents are the two key factors in effective stealing.
Stay away from stealing at random and without a plan. This will result in your running into spots where you will bleed chips.
Blind stealing will help you get deep in tournaments on a consistent basis and give you a chance to make more final tables.