Alright, so I’ve been making this mistake playing online lately. Sure, it may seem like a decent idea to go ahead and raise to 4x the big blind in a no limit ring game from the button. It especially seems right when you’re the first one in on the action. How good a hand could the blinds have, anyway? And so what if you’re one off the button… no one else has shown any strength yet. Deep down in my poker heart I know that this is the wrong mindset, but I’ve needed to once again come to the conclusion that this is the wrong attitude for playing against the blinds in online poker.
One of the above situations usual happens at tighter online sites or tables, where not too many players will usually see the flop. You’ll often find yourself in late position with a hand like 8c-7c and decide to take a stab at the blinds. The problem is that tighter tables are also usually more aggressive. An observant player from the small of big blind will probably put you to the test, and you’ll have to release your hand unless you improve on the flop. Even worse is if he just doubles your raise and traps you into the strong hand. You’ll have to call because of the great pot odds, but you really don’t want to have to with a hand like 8-7.
On the other hand looser sites, of course, have looser opponents. Stealing pots from calling stations or maniacs just isn’t logical. They make their table presence out of playing too many hands for too much money, so they’ll gladly call your raise and come at you aggressively on the flop. In the case of a calling station, you don’t want to give him the chance to make a better hand when he’s going to call you down anyway. While the situation is rare when you’ll find yourself first into the action from late position at a wild site, it does happen and you should be aware of the consequences.
Most of all, I’ve just come to the conclusion that I have bad luck with trying to steal pots. While this defies all sensible logic, this reasoning may also apply to you if you find yourself always getting called in the wrong spot. It seems that every time I’m raising just to try to pick up the blinds, I’m called in 2 or 3 places! No one has even called for the minimum up until me sitting one off the button, but apparently that obligates the button and both blinds to have pocket Aces, Kings, and Queens respectably when I raise the pot with my Q-10 offsuit. However, you should also note that when you have the Aces or Kings, everyone seems to know what you have and gets out of the way.
On a less self-pitying note, you’ll usually wind up in a tough position if you raise the blinds from late position with a mediocre hand just hoping to pick up a small pot preflop.
If you aren’t holding a premium hand, you’ll often sort of hit the flop in the form of bottom pair or a draw. You’ll then be faced with a tough decision on whether or not to follow-up on your semi-bluff with another bet. If you get called and don’t improve on the turn you’ve put yourself out of a lot of cash just trying to win a couple of bets. The fact is that you’ll be called much more than you’d like on steal attempts in ring games. The follow-up semi-bluffs and continuation bets that you will be tempted to make on the flop can cost you a lot and you’ll probably end up in the hand for way more than you bargained for. Save your bets (and your pride) for when you’re holding some semblance of a hand. Of course, you should also note that this advice is strictly for ring games, and you’ll probably need to steal the blinds much more often in tournaments to stay afloat when the blinds begin to rise.