Stealing Blinds in SNGs

The name of the game is to build stacks. That’s how you win SNGs.

Without them you’ll have to worry about the blinds. You’ll have to resort to push/fold strategies. You’ll have to flip and risk your tournament life.

With that comes variance. With that comes giving up your edge. You rely less on yourself and more on the cards.

No thanks.

So a large part of your focus should be on finding opportunities to add to your stack, and preferably with as little risk as possible.

One such way to do that is to steal the blinds.

But it’s very easy to butcher this strategy, and in doing so, do more harm than good.

How to Build Your Stack Stealing Blinds… Without Having to Risk Your Stack

It is possible.

You don’t have to risk your stack – your tournament LIFE – trying to steal the blinds.

You can avoid most risks just being aware.

==> Aware of your opponents.

==> Aware of your table image.

==> Aware of the stack sizes and distribution.

==> Aware of the situation.

Let’s look at each point in more detail.

Being Aware of Your Opponents

The first thing you want to pay attention is to your opponent. Who are you stealing the blinds from? Are they tight? Are they loose? Are they sitting out?

The tighter your opponents are in the blinds, the more inclined you should be to try to pick them up. Often they know better to play out of position, and if you come across a nit they only play the nuts anyway.

Not only that – but the tighter the blinds the less your cards matter. If they’re going to fold – and you’re not going to have to showdown your hand – what difference does it make if you have AA or 72?


The opposite is true for loose and/or loose-aggressive players. You want to steal less from them overall, and less as a bluff. You want to widen your value range and steal knowing that your hand is often good at showdown.

Sticking to that should keep you out of trouble.

But there’s one more thing to point out.

You don’t want to just pay attention to the players in the blinds. You’re not always going to be stealing from the button.

You also want to pay attention to the players on your left if you’re stealing from the hijack or cutoff.

Are these guys going to let you steal? Are they going to 3-bet? Are they going to (re)shove?

You’ll have to adjust your strategy for these guys, too.

Being Aware of Your Table Image

Another thing that will affect your ability to steal – how others perceive you.

If you stole the last 3 orbits worth of blinds, it might not be in your best interest to do it again. Someone is bound to play back at you.

On the other hand, if you haven’t played a hand in the last 3 orbits, you can probably steal the blinds the next 3 hands and get away with it.

But those aren’t absolutes. In fact you can often use a table image to your advantage – even if it’s negative.

For example, say you’ve stolen the last 3 orbits. You look down and see a hand like 77 or A8s.

You can steal here – but more than that – you can often bait an opponent to play back at you light. They’ll 3-bet a hand like JT or 76s, thinking that you’ll often fold.

So… if you have the room to do it… 4-bet them with the intent to call (or shove all in with a 4-bet). You’ll often get them to fold because they’re 3-betting light, but even if you’re called you’ll be ahead of their range.

All because you adjusted your range for how they perceive you.

Being Aware of Stack Sizes & Distribution

Stack sizes and distribution will play a large role.

The thing is – if there’s average stacks to your left (or bigger) you can steal no problem. The only problem you might have to worry about is whether you’ll be 3-betted or not. The bigger the stack – and the more aggressive the opponent(s) – the more likely this will happen.

What you want to watch out for are the shorter stacks. The ones with 15 big blinds or less.

You want to watch out for these stacks because this is a prime opportunity for them to reshove over you – and catch you with your pants down.

So you either need to pass on these spots or adjust your range to stealing with hands you can make the call with. You’ll still have to assess if it’s worth the risk or not. That depends on the situation, your edge, your opponents, etc.

You can also try to raise less. If you’re not already min-raising I highly recommend it. That will help keep the reshoving to a minimum.

Being Aware of The Situation

Last – the situation.

Some situations are going to be better than others.

In my 18-man guide to building a stack I mentioned stealing when it’s 5-6 handed on the final table bubble. Lots of players here don’t adjust to short handed play. As such they don’t widen the hands they should steal or call steals with. The blinds also hit them more often – this makes many players clam up and fold more often.

All great reasons for you to steal their blinds.

Another situation is the bubble. If you have an average stack or larger, you can get away by attacking other stacks that don’t’ have the room or skill set to play a flop. You can get away with steals a majority of the time – and when you factor in the high blinds and antes, with average to below average stacks, you can quickly build a top stack within just a few tries.

Which should set you up nicely for a deep run – maybe even a win.