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5 Guidelines for Defending Your Big Blind

June 13, 2022
by Raise Your Edge

The big blind is probably the position you’ll play from the most at the poker table, because you’ve already got at least 1bb invested. When you have more money in the middle than the rest of the table, you’re incentivized to defend it.

The trick is – you have to do it properly.

Here, we’ll look at 5 guidelines for defending your big blind. You can easily apply these tips in your game immediately, so make sure that you follow them in your next poker session.

Consider The Price You’re Getting

One of the most important things to consider when defending your big blind is the price that you’re getting.

Let’s say someone raises to 2bb and it folds to you. You already have 1bb invested, the small blind has put in 0.5bb, there are 0.5-1bb in antes in the middle, and your opponent raised to 2bb. This means that you have to call just 1bb to potentially win 5-6bb, giving you great odds to call.


Amount in the Pot = 5bb (2bb Raise + 0.5bb SB + 0.5bb Antes + Your 1bb)

Amount To Call = 1bb

Formula: Amount To Call / Amount in the Pot + Amount To Call

Equity Needed: 1bb/6bb = 16.6%

However, you’ll have to adjust your range if they raise bigger. If your opponent raises to 4bb, you suddenly have to call 3bb to win around 9bb, much worse odds than 1bb to win 6bb. Never treat all raise sizes the same, as they make a massive difference when determining whether your hand is profitable to play or not.

Consider Your Opponent’s Position

If someone open raises from early position, their range should be significantly different than when they raise from the button. Because of this, you have to adjust your calling range based on what position your opponent is raising from.

In an extreme example, let’s say you know that your opponent is only ever raising QQ-AA from under the gun, but will raise a ton of hands like 98s, A8o and JTo from the button. Would you call the same number of hands in either situation? Of course not.

Pay attention to this tip as well as the next one, because they’re very similar.

Consider Your Opponent’s Playing Style

This is a very important concept in general – you always have to be aware of what tendencies your opponent has.

Some opponents play all kinds of hands and don’t even care what position they’re in. Against these players you can defend your big blind very wide, even when they’re under the gun. Other players might be shy, tight, or passive. Against these opponents, defend very carefully in the big blind.

Also, take into account your opponent’s postflop tendencies. Do they tend to shut down unless they make a big hand? If so, call wider. Do they tend to be very aggressive? If this is the case, call less.

You can really take advantage of your opponents just by paying attention to their actions at the table, so keep your eyes peeled and take note of any tendencies that you see.

Consider How Close the Bubble Is

In tournaments, the bubble refers to the finishing position where payouts will start to come. If we all know one thing in poker, it’s that you don’t want to be the last person to bust out of a tournament before everyone else gets paid!

Therefore, as the bubble approaches, you should typically look to defend less hands in the big blind, since the stakes are a lot higher and you can end up in some really marginal situations playing for your tournament life.

Chip leaders might try to push you around here, so if you notice that someone seems to be playing every hand you can defend a bit wider. Just be careful, since these aggressive “table bullies” will often try to bluff you off your hand postflop.

Typically, when you have a hand that you’re not sure whether to call or fold near the bubble, you should just let it go. It’ll never be too huge of a mistake to fold, but it’ll sometimes be a devastating mistake to call.

Defend Suited Hands More Often Than Offsuit Hands

While the big blind is a position where you have a lot of different circumstances at play, there are some general guidelines that you can follow. These will vary from situation to situation, but typically you should look to defend suited hands much more frequently than offsuited hands.

If you’re playing an offsuit hand from the big blind it should be a high card hand that’s ideally connected in some way like JTo or T9o. Be careful with offsuited Ax hands as they can get you into trouble postflop facing multiple bets, and avoid playing rag offsuit hands like 53o, 74o, etc, almost at all costs.

A hand like K2s will usually be a much better defend than a hand like K2o, since it can make flush draws more often. This additional equity not only makes your hand more likely to win, but also gives you more playability postflop – a vital element when out of position.

Hopefully these tips help you in your next session. If you’d like to learn more about big blind defense, check out five more tips for defending your big blind here. These tips go a little more in depth and give you some really actionable strategies, so make sure not to miss out on applying these to your game.

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