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Most Common Leak New Students Have: Losing Too Much In The Blinds


Sky Matsuhashi

on May 12, 2022

Losing too much in the blinds is a leak many new students of mine have.  Let me help you plug this all-too-common poker leak.

Listen to this podcast episode as you follow along below:

The Leak of Losing Too Much In The Blinds

Let’s start this off with a sobering reality: You’re going to lose money in the blinds in the long run. 

You’re OOP when you choose to play, and you often give up your blinds with junky preflop hands.  Those two things combined make for auto-losing in the blinds in the long-run.

Your job is to lose as little as possible.

Losing too much in the blinds normally happens when a player defends too often with wide and weak ranges.

They view the blind as “my money” and it's something worth fighting for, even with J4s versus a raise from a tight player.

Also, some player can get into the habit of 3bet bluffing too much and giving up too easily post-flop due to their poor position.  Also, when defending they often don’t consider their opponent’s post-flop tendencies.

Plus, being the 5th caller in the BB makes it difficult to win these multi-way pots, and you're forced to strike gold on the flop to have a shot at the pot.


How to Spot This Leak

There are three ways that I spot this leak in  my students:

1. Looking At Your BB/100 Hands Win Rate

Within every poker tracking software there’s a statistic for the # of BB’s won or lost per 100 hands.  You can view this by position and see what you’re losing in the SB and the BB.

Critical win rates to compare yours to:

  • By folding every BB, your win rate for every 100 hands in the BB would be -100BB/100 hands. If your win rate is worse than this, you would've been better off folding every BB (even that time that you 3bet with AA and stacked your opponent).
  • By folding every SB, your win rate would be -50BB/100 hands (or -40 like in .02/.05 games).
  • The closer you are to 0, and the further away from these two numbers you are (positively), the better your blind play is.

Make sure you’re looking at this over a large sample, though.  Anybody’s BB win rate could be + in the short term.

There’s not some perfect BB/100 win rate number.  Just find what yours is and work on improving it.

I’d love to see your SB win rate at -20BB/100 hands and your BB win rate at -40BB/100 hands.  If you get to these #'s, it's like you don't pay your blinds 60% of the time.

2. Viewing the Hands You Choose to Defend With

By looking at the hands you’ve chosen to play and the way in which you chose to play them, you’ll get a sense of whether you’re making mistakes or not.

Hopefully, you’ve got a range you play from the blinds and you’re sticking to it (download my KISS Cash Game Ranges below).

But if not, look at the last few sessions you played and filter hands played (VPIP’ed) by position.  Review the hand strength of all hands you voluntarily played in the SB and the BB. Do you spot any questionable hands?  Are you calling w/T6s and Q3s?  Are you just flatting instead of 3betting hands like 99-JJ or AQ versus loose pre-flop raisers?

3. Reviewing Big Losing Pots in the Blinds

While you’ve filtered for hands played in the blinds, sort this by the amount won/lost in the blinds.

Check out the biggest pots lost from -20bb's or worse. Are there any common characteristics to these hands?  Was it specific opponents you were fighting back against, or not giving up post-flop with draws, or paying off TPWK on every street?

Look for patterns to figure out where you’re paying off your opponents so you can begin to save yourself some valuable bb’s and get closer to 0.


Take These Steps to Plug This Leak

Step 1: Know Your Current BB/100 Hands Win Rate

This is your benchmark, and now your goal is to simply improve on this number, getting closer to 0.  Just being more aware of this number and tracking its decline will give you incentive to improve it.

Visit my YouTube channel for loads more free poker strategy videos.


Step 2: View the Blinds as Dead Money

Don’t get all “revengy” and feel that you’ve got to defend the blinds against all who would try to steal them.  If the situation isn’t good to defend, don’t do it.


Step 3: Actively Choose Your Opponent When in the Blinds

When you’re first to act, you can’t choose who plays against you.  But when there’s an open-raise and you decide to call or 3bet, you’re doing so out of position and purposefully against this player.

Know who you’re up against and what their post-flop tendencies are.  What can you expect from him on the flop? If his cbet is 80%, you know he’s firing on the flop almost every time you check.

  • When you flop a value hand, you can check-call then donk the turn.
  • If you’ve got a draw just check-call if the price is right, or check-raise as a semi-bluff.
  • If he’s super flop honest, great! Just check and if he checks-behind, fire every turn.

There are lots of ways to exploit your opponent’s post-flop tendencies from the blinds, you just have to know their tendencies.


Step 4: Use the KISS Cash Game Ranges

Get the KISS Cash Game Ranges:

These ranges originally came from my book, Preflop Online Poker.

These ranges will keep you nice and tight through all the positions, which will improve your profits in the micro and low stakes.

And, critically to help you plug your blind losses leak, they'll restrict your blind play ranges, especially when it comes to calling. And they include 3betting hands and 3bet bluffing hands.

Download the ranges with the form above, then use them for the next 5,000 hands. See how they work for you and how they help improve your blind play and results.


Step 5: Study Huge Losing Hands in the Blinds Each Day This Week

Look for the hand strength you chose, the opponents you chose to play against, how likely you were to make money in each situation, and any mistakes made.

One hour per day focus will make you a much better blind player.


Step 6: Play Blind Improvement FOCUS Sessions

Learn about FOCUS Sessions here.

Experiment with your calling and 3betting, 3bet resteals, post-flop play when heads-up and multi-way, and record game tape to review later.

There are so many different plays you can experiment with when defending your blinds. Here's a quick list:

  • Light Three-Bet
  • Donk Betting and barrel bluffing
  • Semi-Bluff w/equity
  • The Stop and Go
  • The Squeeze Play
  • The Check-Raise


How to Exploit This Leak In Others

There are some players that are just too tight in the blinds.  Target them with lots of raises pre with hands that have some potential like suited cards and connectors.  Don’t go overboard and steal with the good old 92o.

The perfect players to target in the blinds are those that call wide and fold to most flop and turn cbets.  Look for those who call from the blinds 30% of the time or more, and fold to flop cbets like 60%+.  These guys play weak ranges which can’t stand up to a lot of pressure post-flop.  Target them with cbets and if they fight back you can easily ditch the hand.  Folding is a way to exploit their uncharacteristic aggression.  If a player folds a lot, but is suddenly calling and raising then you know he’s strong and you can fold now and not pay him off any more $$$.

If you’re up against an aggressive check-raiser in the blinds, you need to put them on a range and assess whether the flop hit them.  When they’re defending your steal with say 150 different hands, and only 20 of those hands have a good reason to check-raise, that’s only ~13% of hands.  If he’s check-raising 25% of the time, then it’s likely he’s just trying to push you off.  You can call or re-raise as you see fit to fight his aggression.  Plus, against this player you can cbet for value, call his raise, and because you’re IP, you won’t let a street go by without a big bet going in.


Take Action!

Here’s my challenge to you for this episode:

Figure out your BB/100 hands win rate in both blind positions and work on improving this for one week by hitting each of the 6 steps above.

Choose your cards, opponents and situations carefully when you defend, and test out the different plays I mentioned.


Sky Matsuhashi

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