Stealing blinds in sit’n goes and tournaments

Winning sit ‘n goes is supposed to be much easier than prevailing in tournaments, as fewer players participate and a conclusion is reached relatively quickly. The two forms of poker have one thing in common, as players are supposed to double up several times, until they are the only ones left standing. The obvious way to advance and inch closer to the final table is by going all in with the best hand, but poker professionals agree that committing your entire stack frequently is a big mistake.

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The reason for why going all in often is not the right way of playing sit and goes and tournaments alike is that you are no longer in control of what happens. The only way of doubling up is by being called by someone who has a strong hand that is still inferior to yours. Organic growth is more durable and poses fewer risks and when it comes to poker, winning small pots without taking chances is better than waiting for opportunities to go all in.

Stealing blinds in sit ‘n goes and tournaments is different from performing the same action at cash game tables, due to their special format. When you buy in for a cash game, you know exactly how high the blinds will stay throughout the session and there is little pressure to double up soon. At these tables the blinds have the same worth regardless of how much time passes, whereas in a sit and go and tournament they keep growing.

Having said this, stealing blinds in the early stage of a tournament doesn’t matter and the risks greatly surpass the benefits. During the middle stage of the tournament though, the blinds represent a bigger percentage of your stack and stealing them makes more sense. By winning hands pre-flop you take down decently high pots that will enable you to play more cards, especially speculative ones.

You won’t win a tournament by stealing blinds alone, but you will be able to afford more pre-flop raises and calls. As a result, your chances of hitting something on the flop and turn improve and you only need to get lucky once to double up. At the final table, the blinds sometimes represent more than a 10th of the short stacker’s chip, which makes it far more difficult to steal blinds. The problem resides in the fact that players will be willing to protect their blinds at any cost and you will be pit against a difficult decision.

Unless the victim of your aggression is simply waiting for other players to be eliminated ahead of him, so that he can improve his finish position, it is better not to push the envelope. When you steal blinds at this stage you need to accept the possibility of calling an all in pre-flop or when the first 3 board cards appear.


March 27, 2014 - Offer valid as of date published. T&Cs apply