What is In the Dark?
If a poker player is ‘in the dark’, they have opted to make a bet before seeing their cards.
The phrase applies to any player who makes a ‘blind bet‘. This could be optional, or part of the rules of that particular game. Most blind bets are mandatory, however some players may choose to enter the pot while they are ‘in the dark’ about the value of their cards.
In the Dark Explained
The common phrase ‘in the dark’ means to be unaware of something, or to not know about a particular thing. In poker, this term is applied whenever a player makes a blind bet – that is, when they bet before the cards have been seen.
Betting ‘in the dark’ might be done voluntarily, though often some or all players are forced to make a bet before they can see their cards. These forced blind bets are usually known as the large and small blinds, and they are made by the players to the left of the dealer. The large blind, or big blind, is twice the value of the small blind; the small blind is the value of the game’s minimum bet.
Most blind bets are made before the cards are dealt. However, a player can often bet while ‘in the dark’ after the cards are distributed, as long as they have not seen those cards yet. Any player who has glanced at their downcards and knows their value cannot make a blind bet. Making a bet while in the dark is a risky move, but it does give the player a positional advantage later in the game. As the player who opted to go in blind, they get to see the rest of the table’s turns before acting again – thus skipping the risk of betting early and being caught out for a greater loss.