By: Paul Hewson
No matter what level of poker you're at, whether you're playing Hold'em, Omaha, or Omaha Hi/Lo, chances are you've got a serious leak in your game: folding too much from the big blind. Database analysis proves that most players do this to some degree. You can exploit others with this problem by opening more hands, especially from late position, but it's more important to get your own leaks sorted out first.
It's easy to see why the big blind is so problematic. It's the second-worst position at the table, next to the small blind; you'll be out of position to everyone else postflop. Being forced to post the big blind isn't fun, either. Most of your losses in poker will come from the blinds, no matter how good you are. But playing from the big blind isn't nearly as tough as people make it out to be.
There's a trick to this aspect of poker that not everyone understands: If you lose less than the one big blind you have to cough up in that seat, you're ahead of the game. Imagine you're at the checkout buying groceries, and the cashier tells you everything is 10% off today. That should make you pretty happy, especially if your groceries cost $100, or $1,000. You were going to have to buy them anyway.
Unfortunately, they don't give out discounts at the poker table – you have to earn them yourself. But playing from the big blind gives you one important advantage: You get to act last preflop. That means you can start guessing what your opponents might have before you make your decision. If you're playing 6-max Hold'em, and someone opens from under the gun, you can narrow their range down to roughly the top 15% of hands. If they're on the button, it'll be more like 50%.
It's pretty much a math question from there. Because you already posted the big blind, you don't have to invest as much to call as the person who open-raised. That means you get to call with a very wide range of hands. If your opponent is under the gun, you can consider calling with hands like Five-Deuce suited and Ten-Nine offsuit. If you're defending against a button open, hands as weak as Five-Three offsuit should do the trick. You'll probably lose that hand post-flop, but if you play it right, you'll lose less than your big blind in the long run. And you know what they say: A poker chip saved is a poker chip earned.