In traditional poker, there is an ante, or minimum bet at the table. Each player begins by throwing in their minimum bet, and then players have the opportunity to raise the bet if they are confident with their hand or are trying to bluff others into folding.
Blinds are used in Texas Hold ‘Em instead of buying into the ante. Two players in a game of Texas Hold ‘Em put money in the pot without seeing their cards, which is why they are called blinds. There is a big blind and a small blind (half of a big blind). Other players can choose to match the big blind or fold. The player playing the small blind must pay the difference between the big blind and the other players’ bets, as long as there are no raises.
The amounts of the blinds are pre-determined and agreed upon by all players before the game begins, and may go up periodically during game play at pre-designated times in the game. For example, blinds may start at $50 and 100, then go up to $100 and 200 after a certain number of hands, and continue as such until the pot is won. Players take turns playing the blinds, hand for hand, going around the table so that eventually, everyone at the table plays each blind.
The big blind is generally the same amount as the minimum bet at the table with the small blind being half of that amount. It is possible to play poker without blinds and in that case the lowest domination chip would be considered the minimum bet. You will rarely see this though as it doesn’t really motivate players to play hands outside of the best ones and the casino doesn’t make any money off of the rake.
In a tournament setting, the blinds will raise after a set amount of time and continue to get higher and higher. This keeps the game moving fast and sees the pressure build so that eliminations happen more often. Otherwise, you might just have people sitting and playing tight for hours and hours with the tournaments going on for days. The blinds work as a way to get small stacks out of the game and increase the player’s desire to win more chips and thus play aggressively.
Many tournaments will also incorporate an ante into the game after things get down to the final few players. Each player will give an ante and then the small and big blind will also post. All of this is designed to eat into a player’s stack and get them to act instead of react. You’ll need to play aggressive poker as things get deeper into the tournament.
You can be “blinded out” of a tournament if you have a small stack and it is your turn at the big blind. If your stack doesn’t cover the blind or puts you all-in, that money as well as the matching bets are put in a pot. If the other players in the game continue to bet, that is put in a side pot. If you win the hand, you can only win the main pot.
Additional Texas Holdem Blind Questions: