In order to keep the game of poker moving and people betting, poker rooms invented blinds. It was rather genius, really. The blinds work as a sort of “rent” for the players, an ongoing cost that they pay that keeps them in the game. It also makes players have some stake in each hand so they don’t end in all folds which makes people play hands they normally wouldn’t and thus creates bigger pots that in turn create bigger rakes for the poker room to take in. There are two distinct blinds, the big blind and the small blind and this article will tell you a bit more about them.
Blinds are forced bets posted by players to the left of the dealer button before the start of the deal. Most flop and draw games use blinds instead of antes to seed the pot.The number of blinds is usually two or more.
The big blind is a designated amount that is placed by the player sitting in the second position, clockwise from the dealer, before any cards are dealt. The big blind is equivalent to a small bet. The small blind is placed by the person to the left of the dealer button. Most of the time, the SB is one-half the amount of the big blind bet, although there are times when the small blind bet will be a little less than half.
After the cards are dealt, the player to the left of the big blind is the first to act during the first betting round. If all players call the big blind, the big blind is then given an extra opportunity to raise. This is called a live blind. If the live blind checks, the betting round then ends.
In a tournament setting, everyone starts with the same amount of chips and the blinds are set at a small amount. As things go on, the blinds rise during the game to keep up with the flow of chips and work to get small stack out of the game. This forces players with small stacks to play aggressively which keeps the flow of play moving and players getting eliminated at a decent rate.
As the tournament goes on, the blinds raise at regular intervals. This is so that no players have a large stack relative to the blind level. If you have 50x blind level, that doesn’t give you a lot of motivation to play hands. However, when you only have 10 big blinds you need to play far more aggressively. The blind level will continue to rise as people are eliminated and their chips are dispersed. While you may start with 5,000 chips, after a few hours the blinds can be 10,000 or more. The poker rooms want the tournaments to end in a tidy fashion as they have typically already made their money off of the entry fee and have no skin in the game. Ending as soon as possible fits their interests as it gets people back on the tables.
Additional Big Blind/Small Blind Questions: