Most players these days are aware of stealing the blinds in no-limit Texas Holdem play. But yet I do feel that there is an awful lot of misunderstanding with regards this part of the game. I think that some of the reason for this is based on general misunderstanding with regards to the form of poker being played. In fact I have seen many articles written that simply referred to hold’em without any mention of whether the game that was being played was limit, pot-limit or no-limit.
Stealing the blinds in limit poker is a very important part of the game simply because the blinds represent a very large percentage of the amount of money being risked. Let us say that the game is $2-$4 limit holdem and the blinds are $1-$2. A pre-flop raise would be to $4 and this $4 wins $3 if immediately successful. That $3 represents 75% of the amount that is being wagered. But in no-limit play then the situation is somewhat different and also in pot-limit too.
In this form of poker then making a double the big blind limit type raise would not get most players to fold and your bet could even get re-raised by many players. So most players when raising to steal the blinds tend to raise to either 3x the big blind or 3.5x the big blind which is a pot sized raise. So if the game were $1-$2 no-limit Texas Holdem then the stealer would be risking $6-$7 to win $3 which is only between 43-50% of the amount being wagered. This is vastly different to the 75% in limit hold’em.
Of course the obvious flip side to this is that your opponents need to risk more money to call or raise you but that is also offset by you risking more as well so it is a chicken and egg type situation. But the deciding factor is that as the most skilled player then you ideally want to be getting your opponents to put more money into action and raising achieves this objective.
Good no-limit players do not raise from position just to steal the blinds. They raise from position for a multitude of reasons of which stealing the blinds just happens to be one of them. Usually good players see it as being in their interests to escalate the stakes while being in position and they do this with great skill. Mediocre and poor players just “steal blinds” and then make blind continuation bets and try to blast the opponent away. This often works but it is very risky and also very expensive when it goes wrong.
It can also serve to tilt a player as well when they lose a big chunk of money through being overly aggressive. So simply raising from position to steal the blinds in no-limit Texas Holdem is not as appealing from an expressed odds sense and so other plays have merit if you have an edge over your opponents post flop. Limping is an often underrated play in no-limit but if you can out play your opponents post flop then it certainly has merit.