Should you defend your blinds differently at different stages of a tournament?

Meaning in the early stages should you defend a lot tighter and then get a bit looser as the tournament goes on. The further you go in a tournament the more important it becomes to steal blinds so people will raise/shove a lot lighter. Should you tighten up against this or should you call light as well?

For example early in a 6 seater sit and go blinds are 100/200 and stack sizes are 10000 each. You are in the BB with A10 and the button raises to 600. Should you flat call and see a flop or should you 3-bet knowing that they are probably trying to steal? Or is this a hand you can safely lay down at this stage?

The same situation late on in a tournament the button shoves and you just have him covered are you calling or folding? At this stage they could quite possibly be playing any two cards and just attempting to steal.


3 Answers 3


Basically it depends on some factors:

  • the available statistics and notes to the opponents.
  • tournament stage
  • your stack
  • opponent's stack

General Big Blind behaviour:

  • we tend to defend blinds against the "stealer", who is more loose/agressive than average
  • we tend to defend blinds in the late tournament stage
  • we tend to defend the blind against the big stack (probably table chipleader) with premium hands to make sure that we are ahead of his range. Most likely he will call our raise and try to win on flop/post flop.
  • while defending the blind we reraise more to have high fold equity, and raise less if we expect to be payed more on flop
  • defend the blind against short stack stealer (M3-M5) at "almost any two". His push range is extremely wide.

In the early stages of a tournament, you want to survive the weeding out of the unfit. Hence, you tend not to defend, unless your hand is reasonably good.

In the later stages of a tournament, you are playing against survivors. Hence you need to play "reasonable" blind hands that offer any hope, and fold only your worst ones.

That said, you defend more against loose raisers than tight ones.


I'm saying player stats and history are random here.

In a 6-seater SNG with 50 BBs, the best plays subjectively are:

1) Call
2) 3-bet small
3) Fold
4) 3-bet large

If I was deep in an MTT holding AT on the BB and button shoved with a similar stack, well, with 50 BBs against a random opponent it's an automatic fold. Doubly so if the blinds are slow.

If the opponent is a maniac or even button raising > 20%, you can be reasonably confident your AT is "good". For a standard opponent:

1) If you have 10 BBs it's an insta-call
2) If you have 20 BBs it's a decision
3) If you have 30 or more BBs it's a fold with normal/slow blind speed

If you know your 50 BBs will turn into 20 BBs in a very short time due to blinds and antes, then calling is a possibility, even with 50 BBs

Get used to thinking of your stack in terms of BBs, never chip count

The optimum play changes depending on your stack in BBs, the blind structure, opponents and prize structure (not the chip count)

So yes absolutely you should defend your blinds differently at different stages

  • I believe your answer is really good, except for the best plays at the start. Esentially, feels like the only option you left out is ALL_IN, which is still a valid play.
    – ducks
    Feb 24, 2020 at 21:58

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