Playing Blind Poker

Let’s discuss the art and science of playing blind poker. When we talk about playing blind poker, we’re not referring to playing poker from the blinds. We mean quite literally, playing poker without once looking at your cards. Playing blind poker is a great way to learn how there are aspects beyond your cards that are critical to the game — position, betting patterns, etc.

The best way to play blind poker is in an online tournament, where other players can’t see what you’re doing. Just buy into an inexpensive (but not too cheap) tournament, so your losses are fixed. Apply a Post-It Note to where your card information is displayed on the screen to ensure that you can’t see your cards.

Early On
When you’re in the early stages of a tournament, you want to avoid playing big pots. The stacks are so deep that most people aren’t going to be playing speculative hands or putting chips in the pot unless they know they stand a chance of winning. You’ll know where the bad players are because those are the ones limping into every pot instead of betting. Try to isolate and cut down these callers if you have position.

The Middle Stretch
Once the blinds start getting bigger, you want to start trying to add more to your stack if you’ve got enough chips on your side. Let’s say you have fifteen big blinds and the cutoff opens for three big blinds. This is a great place to try very aggressive blind betting, such as shoving all-in. If your opponent isn’t holding a stunner, they’re most likely going to fold. Once you start getting more chips, you can start re-raising without going all-in.

This is a great place to learn about how your stack size changes the other players’ perception of you, and here’s where you can find out how position is critical to playing a winning hand. Position is the most important tool that you have when you’re playing blind poker. After all, you can’t be betting under the gun with six or nine other players waiting to act behind you; at least one of those players is going to have a playable hand.

Final Hands
Let’s say you’ve made it to the endgame while playing blind poker. First of all, congratulations are in order, because you obviously know enough about poker to get this far without looking at your cards. Secondly, you are about to have a tough time with that strategy going forward. Your opponent is going to be very aggressive and you can’t just go all-in and hope that puts them in their place. This is where luck really plays into it.

Frankly, if you get into the heads-up stage of an online poker tournament without looking at your cards, then I daresay it’s okay to look at what you’ve got. Remember that you are doing this as a learning exercise, not necessarily to win, so make sure you limit your buy-in amount to something you can afford to lose. Playing blind poker isn’t an everyday sort of activity, but it’s a great way to sharpen the skills you have and help develop those you don’t.