Blind Structures

In the game of hold’em the players located just after the button are typically the blinds. The blinds are forced bets required to be put in before the cards are dealt. The reason for the blinds is to create action. The size and number of the blinds will vary depending on the game.

In live games the blinds are generally set up with the big blind being the minimum bet size and the small blind being half of the big blind. This is however not a hard and fast rule. There are small games such as $3-6 Limit Hold’em where the blinds are often $3 for the big blind and $1 for the small blind. Some no limit games use a $1 and $3 blind structure. Another common no limit blind structure is $3 small blind and $5 blind and there are a few games that use $2 and $5. I used to play in a $4-8 structured limit game that used blinds of $1 and $2; the game worked just fine and there was plenty of action in the game.

I know that it seems obvious to most people but the smaller the blinds the less it costs to sit there and wait for a premium hand. Smaller blinds beget tighter play. The larger the blinds the more aggressive the game becomes and the more fluctuations in bankroll.

In tournaments the blinds are continuously escalated at predetermined time increments usually called rounds. The primary purpose of raising the blinds is also to stimulate action. A second benefit of the predetermined raising of the blinds is being able to predict how long a tournament will last. Tournaments will also add antes to the structure to increase the pressure to play late in a tournament.

The shorter the rounds the more pressure to play and the greater the luck involved in a tournament. The faster the blinds escalate the more luck involved. Some tournaments actually double the blinds every round. This type of structure forces action and increases the luck factor. Conversely, the slower the blinds are raised and the deeper the stacks are compared to the blinds the more skill factors into the outcome of the tournament.

I am a fairly tight player and play fewer hands than most players. My pre-flop starting hand selection is the strongest part of my game. I choose to play in games with relatively small blinds so that I can wait for premium hands. When choosing a $15-30 limit hold’em game I would prefer one with blinds of $5 and $15 versus a game with $10 and $15 blinds. The game with the $10 small blind plays much bigger and more aggressive than the other game.

When looking at a game be aware of the blind structure and know how it affects the game. In smaller games the blinds have little effect other than the cost of sitting at the table waiting for a hand. In the smaller games players are there to play and will enter many pots regardless of the amount of money in the blinds.

If you get a chance to watch high stakes poker you will notice that they use a blind structure of $300 and $600 with a $100 ante. This means it costs $1800 a round to sit there or $200 per hand. The reason this is done is to stimulate action. Very good players do not play very many hands and they do not make very many mistakes so the blinds and antes have to be large to encourage the action. Otherwise, everybody would just sit there and there would rarely be a flop and almost never a showdown. That would not make for good television.

I hope this helps you understand the structure of the blinds and I will go into more detail about how to play in different scenarios in future articles.


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