Using a blocker in Poker: Why Is It Important?

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One of the first things you learn about poker when you are a beginner, is that it is not just about the cards. What is in your hand matters, but that is only a part of the route to winning a hand. Of all the complex strategies and ideas written about poker, one of the most important concepts, and one of the first you should grasp, is the idea of blockers.

But what are poker blockers and why are they so important?

Understanding Blockers in Poker

To understand poker blockers, we have to begin with the reason they exist. Blocking. Poker is so fascinating because unlike something like chess, poker is a game where there is always an element of the game you don’t know. That is, what cards are in your opponent’s hand. It’s impossible to know what other players have, but blockers are tools to help you have a good idea.

It is important to pay attention to what you do know. That is your cards, but they are more than just the cards to make a hand. If you have them, then your opponents don’t, and in poker terms, that means you are blocking them from other players. That is why blockers matter, letting you understand the opponent’s range oif possible hands, and how they relate to your own.

Blockers: Why Should they be part of your Poker Strategy?

But if they are called blockers, they must be blocking something more than just having that card, right? The answer is yes, and a blocker is exactly what it sounds like, it is blocking another player from creating specific hands.

As an example, if there are three club cards on the table and you have the Ace of Clubs in your hand, it doesn’t make a flush for you, but you also know that none of the other players have an ace-high flush either. By looking at your cards not just in what they give you in terms of overall hand, but in what they mean in terms of what your opponents cannot have as hands, it allows you to better understand what it is you are playing against. You can also have a good idea of the relative strength of your own hand compared to everyone else at the table.

Whether you are playing Omaha or Texas Hold’em, if you know the value range of other player’s hands, you can gain an advantage, That is why they matter as a concept in poker, and why a professional poker player will always consider poker blockers in their play.

How poker players use blockers to bluff

The opportunity for using the knowledge blockers give you to bluff can be incredibly powerful. In our original scenario, you have the Ace of Clubs, but don’t have another suitable card to create the flush. But, as other players certainly don’t have that ace, you can bluff the hand knowing they cannot be certain of what you have one way or the other.

By using bluffs in combination with poker blockers, you increase the doubt in other players, and with it the likelihood of them folding and gifting you the pot.

Incorporating Blockers In Your Cash Game Value Betting Strategy

There are a number of ways you can use blockers in your betting strategy, each can be extremely effective when applied correctly, and give you the edge you need to come out ahead. The insight blockers provide is especially useful when you get to the River, as it allows you to bet lower hands as if they were higher value propositions when you are certain that other players do not have the big hands themselves.

More than that, if the cards tell you that one player likely has a stronger hand, you can draw them out to raise, increasing the pot, then bluff them to win. The combination can be extremely powerful. The concept of blockers can be used in many ways though, and can help you create new strategies at ever y stage of the hand.

The significance of blockers Preflop

Decisions you make preflop have a huge impact on how a hand plays out for you, and by leveraging blockers and adjusting your strategy, you can push opponents into playing defensively from the start.

If you are holding high cards, your opponent will be less likely to have value hands, and you can use that knowledge to push from 3-bet to 4-bet strategies that add pressure from the beginning, but there are other approaches too. By observing how other players approach preflop, and the understanding of likely hand ranges from your blocker cards, you can have a better understanding of how the game will go, giving you a key advantage from the start.

Many players become predictable in preflop play, but by pushing outside of 3-betting strategies you can create a bluffing range for later in the game. This is especially important in tournament play like WPT Global, where you will see blockers used frequently in pro play. 

Unblocking and Bluffing

If blocking is knowing that your opponents can’t make certain hands, unblocking is the idea that they probably can make those hands. Unblocking turns the idea on its head and forces you to think about the possible hands that could be on the table based on what cards you have.

Going back to our example of three clubs on the table, if you have no clubs in your hand, then the possibility is higher that an opponent has a flush of some kind. By understanding what might be out there on the table, as well as what definitely isn’t, you can develop an idea of the kind of hand range you are playing against, and build your bluffing strategy around that.

In this way, you can improve the selection of hands where bluffing can be used.

Unblocking And Value Betting

With a good idea of the range of hands on the table, you can take a different approach and avoid putting pressure on early in the hand, allowing bluffs to raise the pot before making your move at the river. This allows players to follow their value betting strategies that keep adding to the pot, rather than scaring them with overconfident raises, and using a check here can be ideal.

You can bet for value with more confidence when you have a good idea of what any opponent’s calling range is likely to be, even without the best hand. That is the effect of blockers, helping you to assess risk and build strategy more effectively.

Blocking and Unblocking: Conclusions

Two sides of the same coin, blocking and unblocking are useful tools, helping you to get a clearer picture of what hands your opponents are looking at in any game. Used as a signal to bluff, to help you with bluff-catching, bet size and to dictate both pre and post flop betting, poker blockers and unblockers can provide valuable insight that gives you an edge over players who ignore them.

FAQ

Are blockers that important in poker?

As a tool that can help you better understand what cards your opponents are holding, they are extremely important. By accounting for blockers and unblockers, you can shape your entire strategy for a game in real time and gain the outcomes you are looking for.

What does blocking mean in poker?

Blocking is simply holding a card that prevents other players from creating a specific strong hand. You can never really know what cards other players have, but through the cards you have yourself, you can know what hands they cannot create. Those cards are said to be blocking that hand.

How do you play poker blockers?

You can use blockers to get a better picture of what hands may be out on the table, and as a result the relative strength of your own cards. By flipping it on its head, you can also gain an idea of what hands are more likely to be on the table based on the cards you don’t have, and again, who may or may not be bluffing, and how strong their position is.

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