The art of stealing in poker

It is common knowledge that you will play the majority of your playing hands around the blinds. Whether it is in the blinds or on the button or the two seats to the right of the button! Stealing and re-stealing play a very important part of your poker strategy. Let us begin by looking at a couple of hands taken from a no-limit Texas hold’em full ring game played at the $1-$2 level.

Your opponent makes it $7 to go in the cut-off seat after the table folds around to them. You hold the 7d-6d and decide to fold your hand. On the very next orbit, you are also on the button with the 10d-8d and the same opponent makes it $7 to go after the table folds to them. Now it is perfectly possible that your opponent may have been dealt good hands on two successive occasions but two raises from a known steal seat are more likely to be with a much wider range.

At this time then there are $10 in the pot with three potential opponents in the hand if you enter the fray. However, if you call then several scenarios can happen. Firstly you can get three-bet by one of the blinds which essentially forces you to fold. Secondly, you can three-bet yourself and thus put the blinds and the original raiser to a decision. The blinds hold random holdings and so the likelihood is that your opponents will all fold and you will pocket $10 in profit.

Against observant opponents then you will need to try very hard to balance your ranges. Every time that you call a raise in position in online no-limit Texas hold’em or three bet then you are taking action against a single opponent. This will not go unnoticed by observant players and so you need to be careful how often you decide to play back at them and with what holdings. More aggressive players will not stand for being pushed around.

The dynamics of the situation dictate that you must fight your corner and your opponents will also know that you know that. The strategy is clear, you will attempt and your opponents will attempt to steal whatever you and they can get away with. Both you and your opponents will also look to steal from other players who you strongly suspect of stealing. The biggest winners however at the lower level or the lower middle limits of online poker are the players who take this to another level and re-steal from the re-stealers.

I often refer to that as level 3 game strategy and this is a factor that I mentioned or have mentioned in other articles. In full ring online cash games then the early seats tend to be played routinely and so this makes them easier to read. However it is when you get to the final three seats to the right of the blinds that you then need to be a little creative. Unfortunately this means that variance will increase because playing hands against raises in raised pots with less than premium holdings will increase your losses when you lose some of those hands.

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