In poker Texas Hold'em the small blind becomes a tricky position to play from. If you use some kind of software, like Poker Office for example, to monitor your performance in each position at the poker table, you'll see that overall the small is a losing position.
Not even the best poker players in the world find it easy to win money from the small blind, that is how it works.
Whenever you are playing in the small blind, your goal is to reduce the amount of money you will lose in order to increase your general wins from the other seats.
The problem caused by playing in the small blind
The main reason why it's difficult to play in the small blind position is because you'll be the first to act after the flop. Since you'll be out of position, your opponents will be able to see how you act before they do and this gives them and insight on your hand strength.
As a result, you'll be at a disadvantage in the hand. All experienced poker players know that position plays a really important role in poker, particularly in poker Texas Hold'em.
When you play from the small blind, you should be aware that you'll struggle throughout the hand. A simple small blind strategy you can follow is fold before the flop and avoid that struggle. If you want to play in the small blind anyway, you'll need a really strong starting hand as a way to compensate the fact that you won't be in position in every round after the flop.
The starting hand selection as a way to save money in the small blind
The starting hand selection will help you have more chances of winning your hand even when you are not in position. The fact that the small blind is a losing seat in general does not imply that you'll necessarily lose money in all the hands you play in that position. If you have a strong hand, don't be scared to enter the pot but don't forget to tighten the requirements of your starting hand if you are in the small blind.
A usual small blind strategy error
Many poker players think that it is worth seeing the flop for a little extra when they are playing in the small blind position because they already have half of their blind in the pot, but this is a common mistake. The fact that you have half of your blind in the pot does not improve your pot odds and you could even lose more money than you expect.
It may seem that the extra half bet you have to make in order to see the flop is pretty innocent, but in fact it can be a risky play, especially if you are not an experienced player. The cause of the big loss is not the extra half a bet we put in the flop but in the times in which you have half a hand and spend more money in the pot than advisable to discover if you may be on to something.
The fact that you have paid your blind shouldn't make you feel committed to the pot. Play the hands like you would play any other hand and forget about the money you put in the pot through blinds.
An example of playing in the small blind
Suppose you are in the small blind, there were a few limpers before you and you have K 7 . Apparently, it seems to be a half decent holding and you decide that you'll call because you only need half a blind more to get to the flop.
The flop turns out to be 9 T K and as a result you get top pair with a 7 kicker, which is a decent hand.
Since you have a top pair, you bet ¾ of the pot to find out how your opponents react. Some opponents fold but one of the players who is playing in the later positions decides to raise you three times your bet. You have to make the next move.
In a situation like this, the other poker hold'em player may have a wide range of hands, like a king with a worse kicker and also a king with a better kicker, two pair, a set or a straight or a flush draw. Since you are out of position you don't have too much information about what hand your opponent may have and the possibilities are many. As you have a half decent hand you decide to call.
The turn is 2 , which doesn't help your hand and possibly did not make any difference to the hand of the other player.
You decide to check because you are not sure about how strong your hand is and the other player makes a pot-size bet. Now you are not sure if the other player really has a strong hand or if he is just taking advantage of your weakness since you checked. A pot-size bet is quite big, however, and you decide to fold and cut the losses.
Evaluation of the small blind example
You probably feel familiar with the situation described in the example. It's a common situation: having a decent holding but facing the strength of another opponent and not being in position.
This is a difficult hand to play because you can never be sure if you have the best hand and you have poor information about your opponent's hand. In the example mentioned before, if you had folded pre-flop you would have saved money.
The small blind will always cause you a lot of trouble due to the poor position in which you'll be playing.
Even though K 7 may seem a decent hand, it certainly looks like the kind of holding that could cause you trouble after the flop. This means that if you decide to call from a small blind position and enter the pot, you need cards that have the potential to hit a strong hand.
If you stick to cards such as suited connectors or pocket pairs, you will hit a strong hand or not and this will save you the problem of having to decide what you should do after the flop. The worst that could happen to you when you are out of position is hitting a marginal hand. If this happens, let the hand go and forget about battling for the cards if you come against action.
Small blind strategy evaluation
Since the small blind position is a difficult position to play from, you should not enter many pots when you are in this position unless you have a really good hand. You'll get more problems than profits if you try to call from the small blind, so unless you have a hand that has a real potential, avoid doing so.
You'll always be at a disadvantage to your opponents when you are in the small blind position, because it is the worst position possible. Even though when half of your blind is already on the pot, you should not feel committed to the pot, in the long run you'll cut losses if you fold when you get a marginal hand instead of calling.